Sep 28, 2009

10 MISSIOLOGICAL CONCEPTS



1. New Testament Content of Evangelism
Out of John Stott’s five points on this, the one that stuck with me was the last one: THE GOSPEL DEMAND, which Stott described in two parts: Repent and Believe.

A good example of the Gospel Demand of Repent can be found in Acts 3:19: “Therefore, repent and return so that your sins may be wiped away”. A good example of the Believe component can be found in John 5:24: “…he who hears My word, and believes in Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life”.

2. Holistic evangelism
Holistic evangelism means our orientation towards the unbeliever is one of concern and love. We show this by endeavoring to meet all of their needs, from physical to spiritual and even emotional.

This means our proclamation of the gospel does not take place in a “vacuum” but rather they can see the truth of our message as it is displayed by our loving actions towards them as a person. This helps us to not view their spiritual need in strict isolation from the rest of their needs.

3. The Relational Model of Evangelism
The Relational Model of Evangelism does most certainly include ministering through personal relationships but it is not limited to that. Part of it does mean we strive to witness to others within the context of a relationship but it goes deeper.

It means we also attempt to relate the gospel to them where they are, in a way we know they will understand based upon our personal interactions with them. It means we show that the Lord desires to be in relationship with them and that they need that relationship. It may even mean we show how Jesus is the ultimate relation of God to humanity by His incarnation.

4. The Seven Neighborhoods
The Seven Neighborhoods concept is the idea that we all have different areas of our life in which we interact with different people in different circumstances for different reasons. Although they may not be physically close to us, we still would do well to think of them as neighbors.

This way we will not limit our relationships to other Christians and will make a conscious effort to see our dry cleaner or baby sitter, for example, as part of a certain neighborhood. Some of the neighborhoods listed were “Highways and Hedges” and “Geographical Neighborhood”. Others had to do with the workplace and common interests.

5. Communication is a Process
Part of evangelism in telling and explaining the gospel and this involves communication. However, effective communication is not usually an immediate thing – it may take a while. Often times, a person has to not only hear and understand what you are saying to them but also to see and experience what you have been saying.

This makes us understand that the verbal element of communication is only part of the enterprise. There is also the factor of dialogue and there should always be a good back-and-forth so you as the sender can also better understand the mindset of the receiver.

6. Meaning is Internal
This means that what we think we are saying is not always what the other person is hearing. A classic example is when we say “bat”, we may mean a Louisville Slugger but they may be thinking of a flying rodent. This means we intend one meaning but they have a different meaning in their mind; therefore, meaning is internal.

Once we realize this, we will do our best to use terms that we both hold in common or ones that we can easily define in a way that makes sense to the listener. We will also ask them if they comprehend our words and if so, could they give us a paraphrased version of the message. This helps ensure the meaning they have internalized in their mind is the same meaning we intended to send out.

7. David Henderson’s Relevant Communication (message and audience in dynamic tension)
How do we ensure we do not place concern for the audience above the purity of the message and vice versa? By balancing the two. If we mainly think of the audience, we may leave them where they are so they are comfortable or even digress into crowd-pleasing. This will cause us to compromise our message.

Inversely, if we only think of the message, we may “lose” the crowd and they may not “get” anything we are saying, making our communication pointless. If we hold both concerns up as valid, we will do our best to present a pure message but in a way in which the audience can readily grasp.

8. Henderson’s Consumers and a Christian Response from his book CULTURE SHIFT
Henderson spoke a great deal about consumerism. This is a self-centered mentality, one that says, “I will pick what works best for me, what I like the most”. It may even dip into being a spectator - the spiritual equivalent of a couch potato. None of these ideas are conducive towards the gospel.

To the hearers who are unsaved, they may be tempted to pick and choose which parts of the gospel “tickle their fancy”. To the saved who are supposed to be involved, they may only want to “watch” or they may only have a shallow commitment to a ministry and as soon as they see something they do not like, they are gone.

9. David Henderson’s Beyond God and a Christian Response
If God does not exist, we are only left with science for our answers and there is nothing spiritual; this is naturalism. If God does exist, He is not involved in the universe in any way; this is deism. This is where many post-modern Westerners find themselves – beyond God, relying upon technology and self for all the answers.

We as Christians, though, must lovingly point out the fallacies in these empty mentalities and give meaning to our existence on this planet by clarifying the implications of the gospel of Christ.

10. Hierarchy of Needs
It is true we must all eat and sleep. It is true we need to be loved. Our most basic need, though, is one that is often overlooked – to be right with God. Humanity’s greatest need is spiritual – not physical.

Believers in the 21st Century must make the lost aware of this need and demonstrate how God alone can fill it.

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