Contextualization is vital to Kingdom labors. A great deal of energy and effort is expended every year among missiologists and missionaries who discuss this topic.
And I do not believe we should ever cease talking about it.
No one is culturally neutral. All of our disciple making methods and strategies are encased in cultural preferences, passions, and priorities. We are all biased as we enter the field.
We all put stumbling blocks before unbelievers can get to the stumbling block of the cross. Some of these are beyond our control, but others are within our powers of adjustment. The way we appear, our communication styles, attitudes, actions, and histories affect what others “hear” long before they hear the gospel. The faster we recognize this truth, the better we can prepare for for effective proclamation.
Here is the question we must ask: What are we doing to minimize our stumbling blocks so people can get to THE stumbling block?
Even after years of evangelical discussions, I am troubled at the lack of cultural discernment found among many theologically sound folk. Sometimes what some theologians and pastors ascribe to the hardness of unbelievers’ hearts is actually their failure to become a servant to all (1 Cor 9:19). They erect a stumbling block the size of Everest that unbelievers must climb to get to the gospel. The cultural expression is so enormous many fail to make it to base camp.
As this Resurrection Sunday comes to a close, let us examine our gospel-sharing approaches. How are we doing when it comes to reducing the obstacles for unbelievers to cross to encounter the cross? If we are doing the work of the Kingdom, then we will always “preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block” (1 Cor 1:23, ESV). May we never compromise here.
However, may we always compromise our culturally sacred preferences if such desires are getting in the way of doing the work of evangelists.
This post written by J.D. Payne and originally posted at https://www.jdpayne.org/2019/04/reducing-the-stumbling-block-before-the-stumbling-block/ and used by permission of J.D. Payne. Photo by Pixabay, Nightowl.