Core Value #4 – Ministry and evangelism must be carried out in a relevant way (1 Cor. 9:22b).
by Brian Walters, Director of Adult Ministries @ MBC Loudoun
1 Cor. 9:22b – “I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
Several years back I was in a bar in a remote village in Kenya called “Eburru” witnessing to some of the locals. As I was sharing the Gospel, I quickly realized my approach was not making sense to the folks from this remote African village in the bush. I should have been sharing the Gospel from a “fear based” worldview as opposed to a “guilt based” worldview. There are three primary worldviews through which people relate to the Gospel message: guilt based, shame based and fear based. I was attempting to share the Gospel with them from a guilt based perspective, which is largely held by those living in Western culture; however in Eburru the typical religious traditions lean more toward a fear based or animistic world view. Because the men in this bar could not relate to a “guilt based” Western culture approach to sharing the Gospel, I should have adjusted my words and shared the Gospel using scriptures and language that would make sense in their culture, not mine.
I didn’t adapt my presentation of the Gospel according to the individual I was talking to as Paul did in his ministry (e.g. – Acts 17:22-34). In 1 Corinthians 9:22b take notice of the word “all.” When you see a word repeated several times in Scripture the author is usually trying to drive home a specific point. Paul was not trying to come across wishy-washy or unstable in any way here, but he was trying to encourage the church of Corinth to remember to take all their audiences into account anytime they are going to share the Gospel. Paul’s main concern was trying to bring the message of salvation to as many people as possible in a relevant way they can understand.
So the take away from Core Value #4 is to always take into account your audience’s worldview in order for you to present the Gospel in a way that they can relate to and better understand. Put yourself in their shoes so you can view things from their perspective. Also, like Paul we need to refuse to allow our own freedoms to prevent others from following the ways of Christ. Meaning we can’t always do things according to our preferences and ways as we must be willing to sacrifice our own needs and wants in order for those things not to get in the way when we communicate the Gospel to others. Remember, ministry and evangelism must be carried out in a relevant way.