Jesus instructed his followers – which includes us – to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to observe all that He had commanded.
It was the last instruction that he gave to his first disciples and as they obeyed, the gospel quickly spread out from Judea and into all of the surrounding regions and it kept going.
In the process of moving out, the disciples who carried the gospel, quickly began to cross linguistic and cultural barriers and they began to wrestle with how to communicate the gospel well. This has been an ongoing challenge for every generation of disciples as they strive to obey Jesus.
It is a challenge for our generation as well.
Doug Birdsall says that, “The Great Commission is for every church in every culture in every generation. There are no exclusions. But . . . every church in every culture in every generation must determine the way in which they respond to this responsibility — in a way that is appropriate to time and context.“
Here are seven books that I think you will find helpful for learning how you should respond as you have opportunities to cross cultural barriers with the gospel.
Culture Smart Series. The Culture Smart guidebook series are a instructional guide books for particular cultures. They unpack cultural norms, customs, etiquette and more. Getting the Culture Smart guidebook for the country you’ll be heading to or of the country your new friends have come from will do much to help you begin to understand a bit more about how to interact. Culture Smart Turkey was an invaluable resource as we went to Turkey. Order A Copy Today
Foreign to Familiar by Sarah Lanier. This short book is one of the most helpful introductions to understanding cultures and the worldviews that drive them that I’ve read. Sprinkled with stories to highlight the different topics she touches on this is the first book I’d encourage anyone to read as they begin to interact cross culturally. It is a great starting place too because it packs a lot into a small book at just 128 pages. Order A Copy Today
The 3D Gospel by Jayson Georges. This book too is packed with incredible insight to help you understand the underlying worldviews that permeate different cultures of our world. Next to Foreign to Familiar, this would be one of the first books I’d recommend to anyone beginning to build relationships and minister to non-Western people. It is also an short book at 82 pages but it is important. Order A Copy Today
Global Humility by Andy McCullough. This book is powerful, insightful and a must read for anyone interested in cross-cultural ministry. Broken into six different sections, Andy explores all facets of cross cultural work through the lens of what he believes is the most important aspect of this work: humility. Filled with first hand experience, personal stories, Biblical insight and sharp observation, Global Humility is a must read for anyone interested in learning from the global church and in moving cross-culturally as an ambassador of Christ. Order A Copy Today
A Geography of Time by Robert Levine. The tagline of this book – the temporal misadventures of a social psychologist – sums up the theme of this book. Levine is not writing from a Christian perspective but his observations, experiments and research are incredibly helpful if you’ve ever run into the reality that folks from other cultures have some different thoughts about time and how it should be handled. This is one of the most entertaining and engaging books that I have read and it’s also incredibly helpful. Order A Copy Today
Issues in Contextualization
by Charles H. Kraft. I first read Kraft’s tome Appropriate Christianity ten years ago and so was excited to see a somewhat trimmed down and more accessible volume. The focus of the book is the idea of contextualization, a topic that anyone who crosses into another culture with the hope of sharing the good news of Jesus needs to become familiar with. This should be a helpful book though is perhaps the most academic of the books on this list. Order A Copy Today
South Asian Bible Commentary.
A few years ago I began to wonder how it might be helpful to read Bible commentaries written by theological leaders who grew up in non-western contexts. I now will often check in with this commentary when wrestling with certain passages of scripture to see how South Asian Bible scholars deal with the texts. It’s been helpful. There are many such commentaries which could be helpful: Native American
, African American
. Here is a whole list of non-Western Bible commentaries
. Order A Copy Today