Short Term / Equipping / Supporting Missions …
The most brilliant summary of the right approach and attitude of any missionary in the field is found in one of Grace Wiebe’s Music & Arts e-newsletter from Frontiers, Canada. We adapted it a little to be useful for our field personnel who have to face new cultural situations all the time. We want to share this with anyone who wants to be involved with church planting cross-culturally, because it is practical and beautiful.”
What approach should we have? How should we go about to start and make a long-lasting impact for the gospel in another culture?
It is important for anyone, whether a musician, artist, evangelist, teacher, pastor or anyone else, to:
- Go in with a servant heart, humbly.
- Not to be perfect but to desire to be growing into godly character and in interpersonal relationships.
- Go as a learner – learning from the rest of the workers in the field situation and from the local people (Proverbs 18:2).
- Go recognizing that your part of church planting is a PART of the whole. It is not the whole.
- Go with a willingness to work together as a team and NOT be independent – rather, operate interdependently. This is the best way to serve the body of Christ in another culture.
- Find out how you will work together as a whole – you will likely need to be involved in many more aspects than just what you are planning. Get the bigger picture and identify your role.
- Find out what the rest of workers’ expectations are and tell them yours before you join the rest of the “team”. Also make sure you identify the real needs of the local people. Sometimes we might think a particular group of people needs something, when the local (spiritual) leaders (if any) don’t think like that at all. DO NOT DO YOUR OWN THING, SHARE IT TO HAVE IT TESTED.
- Do a scouting trip (EXPOSURE) – arrange with the long termers already in the field or the local church to go and visit them before you continue after your goal, so you / and they can make a more informed decision and so you can get a better feel for the layout and the situation there. (Proverbs 19:2)
- Have a team spirit – have you had experience in working together with other teams in your church? If not, you might consider becoming a part of a local team in your church or city (also cross-cultural) beforehand so you can learn this very important skill and work through any potential interpersonal issues which might potentially arise before you go – interpersonal skills are of VITAL importance in the ministry situation.
- Learn how to deal with potential depression and culture shock, in a biblical way, etc. Consider how you would deal with other workers’ melancholy, personalities you might potentially work with. Learn to understand their personalities.
- Excellence and skill is very important as well, but without godly character, talent will not only not be successful in God’s eyes but also cause problems.
- Colossians 3:23: WHATEVER you do, work at it with all your heart, AS WORKING FOR THE LORD, not for men.
- Ask God to work with you to raise up a prayer support team before you go.
- Find some local or email coaches/mentors that can help you to move forward and grow in godly character and in excellence in your gifts, as well as in your ministry roles.
- Do research before you go, on the country, the people group you wish to focus on, their history, language, art, music, culture, etc.
- It would be helpful to have had some previous cross-cultural experience as a “follower”, before trying to play a “leading” role. In God’s kingdom you will always work under authority. Make sure of your ranking and identify / choose your authority.
- It would be helpful to have had some missions training – e.g. studying Perspectives on the World Christian Movement course, for example.
- Prepare to go – check out various web sites (such as re missions resources and candidate preparation, etc. and other related articles on the process, etc.)
- Work at developing your gifts before you’re on the field and while you’re there. (1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim.1:6) You always have to work harder on your own character than out there on the field. Otherwise the situation gets dangerously unbalanced. I know this sounds like a pie in the sky, but you should always have more to give than what you’re giving.
Contact us for more advice about different people groups, especially about the languages they speak.
Do you communicate the gospel effectively?
Everyone planning an evangelism outreach, first needs to determine where on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs the target group is: (Cope, Landa: Clearly Communicating Christ.)
The hierarchy looks like this:
Landa says further: “It is important that the immediate needs of the target group are met; if this does not happen, the group will keep struggling with the question whether the God that we proclaim, can meet their needs.
(Therefore it is important to get prior information about the group.)
The people who plan the outreach, should consider the 8 stages in which the unreached react to the Gospel (the Engel scale) and make sure that the listener is given the opportunity to go through all the stages in order to come to the stage of confession and faith in Christ. Dr Engel’s model of effectual Evangelisation (Cope, Landa. Clearly Communicating Christ, p. 156, YWAM.)
Text’s/programme’s/ missionary’s role
Reaction of the listener
|1) General revelation||Becoming conscious of an almighty divine Deity.|
|2) Conviction of the Gospel Message||Proclaim||Receiving an incomplete knowledge.|
|3)||Retain knowledge of the fundamental Gospel truths.|
|4)||Comprehend the personal implications of the Gospel in his/her life.|
|5)||Positive attitude towards the decision to become a Christian.|
|6)||Identifying problems and the need to make a decision to accept Jesus.|
|7)||Decision to commit him/herself|
|8)||Challenge to make a decision||Confession and faith in Christ (being born again).|
A FEW PROBLEMS SURFACING IN THE MISSION FIELD TODAY:
- Outreachers may limit proclamation to preaching.
- Outreachers may use the wrong “media” or “form” to proclaim – a wrong wine skin to carry the wine. If the target group spot the wine skin and don’t like it, they won’t be as interested in the content – the wine. They may make up their minds before they have the opportunity to taste the wine.
SO WHAT’S THE ANSWER TO THESE PROBLEMS?
- It is clear from the Engel model above that the biggest job of the outreacher is to proclaim. But what does it mean to proclaim? … to preach? Jesus also said: Proclaim the Gospel to all people. The purpose of the proclamation is that people hear the gospel, in other words taking note of what starts to make sense to them. It means to:
- to perceive or observe with the ear;
- to derive a meaning from what is communicated, gaining information/knowledge
- to come to a conclusion, which is followed by a reaction / decision. This is a process, not an event, not an incident, not an (one) opportunity. (Methods of Communication and Contextualisation by Rev. Graham Bain in World Evangelisation Magazine.) To therefore put up your pulpit and your loud speakers, preach a sermon and pack up and go is only a very small factor in the process of proclaiming the gospel. Good News Media can assist you in continuing the proclamation task after your initial and very important contact with the target group. Through using various approaches like drama, story telling, music etc, our material can be used as a tool to follow up what you started. This will ensure repetitive confirmation of what your team shared, as well as a continual impulse that will challenge the listener’s worldview in a non-offensive way.
- Rev Graham Bain writes in World Evangelization Magazine: “The form of proclaiming must be sensitive to the context in which the target group lives, or it will not be heard, in other words “receive with full understanding”. He says, “Christians still live in a fallen world. There can be no culturally neutral media. Everything is weighted with meaning developed in human cultures; this includes preaching and Scripture translation…” Thus conversion is very important. Willowbank says this conversion not only spells crisis, but opportunity. It is not something to be negative about.
Different methods and media fit more naturally with different cultures and at different stages of the process of proclaiming. According to Willowbank there should be no substantial cultural gap between the two cultures, other than a moral one.
One of these methods ensuring this conversion is to share the whole message of the Bible through audio-visual programs (pictures and accompanying story-telling commentary.) This approach has a “parable character” … and the parables Jesus told, provide a good biblical model of proclaiming the good news
- The style of telling stories was the most effective and well-known way of communication.
- The presentation divided those who were searching for the truth from the rest of the crowds.
- It deliberately attracted interest and the hearers began asking questions. (Jesus knew the minds of his followers had to be renewed; so He made them think.)
At Good News Media we concentrate to have our basic scripts translated from FRENCH, PORTUGUESE or ENGLISH in a contextual form with the help of mother tongue speakers, so that there are points of contact within the real world of the listener. Every script, before recording, is to be evaluated within its cultural context. So we do the homework you do not always have the time to do.
We all know now it is vitally important that the listener must have a basic understanding of the story line of the Bible apart from being challenged with an initial message and altar call. “We often see Paul telling the whole Bible story from beginning to end. Similarly, we should present a basic overview of the Gospel. People need to understand God’s history of mercy with his people.” (Willemse, B. Lecture at Global Careers.) So through GNM audio-visual material we try to bring across this story that contains biblical worldview by using the correct symbols and idioms to express and reinforce the story told. Our artists concentrate on using the most suitable sketching techniques and non-offensive / non-controversial colours and postures. We realise that it’s important to approach the proclaiming process with each culture in such a way that, our proclamation will result in:
- the target culture accepting the story,
- changing their world view, and changing their lifestyle accordingly (Graham Bain).
Please contact us for more info on how we can assist you in your enormous task of proclaiming the good news. We want to serve you as you serve others