First - Be clear what message you are sent to share and the posture you take in sharing it. In
1 Cor. 2:1-3 (ESV) Paul gives us a wonderful model. He says And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. (2) For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (3) And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling. A missionary shares the Good News of salvation in Jesus with the community he or she is sent to.
Second - Know the people whom you are sent to reach. Every missionary spends considerable time getting to know the history, culture, values and the people of his mission field in order to communicate the message of Jesus in a clear way that fits the context. Often times, however, churches and communities of believers who have been there a long time lose touch with the context of their community and perhaps don't even think of it as their mission field. But, we are missionaries and we need to know our community. While printed demographic studies give us valuable statistical data, nothing beats listening to people and culture in order to really know and identify with our local culture. Here are 20 questions You might ask in order to understand your local mission field?
- Where do you need to go to "listen" to your culture?
- What/Who are the "gods" in your culture?
- Who are the cultural heroes?
- What does security look like?
- What are the visible signs of wealth? Of poverty?
- Who is moving into your community?
- What are the "hot button" social issues currently being debated?
- How does the history of your community affect life right now?
- What political, cultural and economic issues have shaped the ethos and beliefs of your culture?
- What are peoples' hopes and dreams in your community?
- What does masculinity/femininity look like where you live?
- How is authority viewed by the people around you?
- What is considered "art" in your context?
- What are the key slogans or phrases known by people in your community?
- Where do people invest their resources of money and time?
- Do local institutions deal with immigrants as an asset or a problem?
- What is the reputation of religious leaders and churches?
- What behaviors in your community are rewarded and which are punished?
- How does your community define peoples' concept of "the good life"?
- What do people think about Jesus?
Third - Engage the people of your culture and community with the clear message of "Jesus and him crucified" with a posture of humble "fear and much trembling" as you go about your every day life. Paul said something else in 1 Cor. 2:4 that makes this 3 step process possible. He said "and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power." None of us can do this in our own strength, but with the power of the Spirit, every disciple IS a missionary.