Tactician – field savvy (more lessons from the Platoon Leader’s Manual)
The church starter becomes a tactician in understanding the environment (culture) of his mission. In mission strategy, we learned there are three strategies for mission outreach.1
The standard-solution approach: this approach says, since the Gospel was given by Jesus and is the same “yesterday, today, and forever”, then reaching people for Jesus is the same wherever you are regardless of culture, language, or history. “This is the way our church works in the USA. We should use the same methods and means of communication in other cultures as well.”
The spiritual approach: this approach says, we’re just going to let God lead us every day. We don’t need a plan because a plan limits the Holy Spirit.
The context-indigenous approach: this approach says, the Gospel is given from God and so is unchangeable (Acts 20:21), but the way it is communicated in the focus culture is constantly being adjusted and renewed according to the strongholds in those cultures that hinder humans from a relationship with God. Pau l and subsequent missionaries learned this as they went into various cultural contexts using local beliefs as a platform for saying, in essence, “Jesus has not come to destroy yours traditions, but to fulfill them.”
In reality, a holistic approach includes some of the first 2 strategies and a healthy dose of the context-indigenous approach.
Standard-Solution: One of the lessons I appreciated learning in my first pastorate, a small congregation while I was in seminary, was that some things about church ARE the same anywhere in the world.
Spiritual: Even though we may have a plan, we don’t negate and remain open to the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Context-Indigenous: Since this is the incarnational model God chose (John 1:14), and the model God chose for us to do mission (John 20:21), this approach challenges me most to both appreciate and find where the Ho l y Spirit has already been preparing the local culture to receive the Gospel of Christ.
Now I need to apply these principles to my focus culture group by (1) spending time with them, (2) learn from them, and (3) find the redemptive analogies embedded in their culture.
And pray the hard work of sowing and cultivating reaps a harvest.
1Jonathan Lewis (ed.), World Mission, William Carey library, 1992.