Principles of cross-cultural mission

Introduction

There are more than enough books offering biblical foundations for Christian mission. The Bible has the only absolutes that we possess. A member of any culture can use it safely to relate both to God and to fellow humans. In the beginning God created, and all that he created was very good (Genesis 1:31). The day will come when a vast multitude will gather to worship him from every nation, tribe, people and language (Revelation 7:9). As Christians we are called upon to proclaim his full gospel to all people everywhere as instruments of grace and truth to a world desperately in need.[1] To be called his child is to accept the challenge to make disciples of all nations and to cooperate with individual churches worldwide that are doing the same task. The Early Church was a mission church that began its activity from Jerusalem only to extend it to the end of the world.[2] In a day when many mission organizations are determine the value and significance of their strategies for world evangelization it is perhaps appropriate to examine more closely the methods of the man who is credited with bringing Christianity to Europe and other part of the world. Paul was a man with a single purpose, to see the Gospel of Jesus Christ brought to the world. [3] Ministers in missions from all ages has transformed the map of global Christianity, we live an age of a multinational church and multidirectional mission. If there is one feature that stands out about Paul, his missionary task and strategy, it is his Christ-likeness. He sought to demonstrate the truth of his message through his changed life (1 Tim. 1:13-14), his passion to serve and care for the service to equip the saints of the Lord (Eph. 4:11- 12). On the basis of this he encouraged others to follow him as he followed the example of Christ. It is clear from his letters that this factor was a key to his success and foundational to his teaching during his missions.

Principles of Cross Cultural Mission in Paul's Ministry

The principle in church planting is that Jesus of Nazareth has been raised to the position of God's heir and Lord of the Church and the Harvest (Matt. 28.18-20; Heb. 1.1-4). Nothing that takes place in the Church, in mission, or in the spiritual realm has any lasting meaning or power without the sovereignty of Jesus Christ, who has been granted authority and a name which all creatures everywhere will one day acknowledge and worship ( Phil. 2.5-11). I agree with William Carey when he built the whole of the biblical section of his case on a single text, the so-called Great Commission of Mathew 28:18-20, arguing that it was as valid in his day as in the days of the apostles and the Saints.[4] An understanding that Jesus is Lord, working through the Holy Spirit in this age to accomplish all that he has determined is the foundation and rock upon which all who minister must reckon and receive ( Acts 1.8; John14.16-17). Paul saw himself as God's eschatological apostle, commission to bring in all the nations as portrayed in the Old Testament scriptures.[5] In the book of Acts, Luke present a significant moment in Paul's early missionary journeys, Paul presents a rich scriptural justification for the direction of his mission strategy. Normally he went first to the Jewish synagogues of the Diaspora when he arrived in a new city (Acts 13: 14-48). Paul gives a long scriptural sermon that lead up to Jesus. Paul's message is both for the children of Abraham and god-fearing gentiles. The message is that God has fulfilled what he promised the fathers (Acts 13:32) in the resurrection of Jesus Christ. A mixture of Jews and proselytes accept the word and became believers. The rest of the New Testament however, and specifically the writings of Paul, addresses the mission issue in its present unpleasant difficult prominence on the various problems and practical dilemmas.[6] Since in our Pentecostal theological and historical background, we are secure to claim that the Early Church ministries are present and active in the church 21st century, we can also accept the fact that missionary is still the primary ecclesiastical objective. Therefore, the same basic principles presented in the writings of Paul during his missionary journeys are valid in the modern context of missions.[7] In this sense, to write the principles of cross-cultural mission a lot can be seen in the strategy of Paul this includes the background, development and methods of his mission strategy is a historical, theoretical and practical necessity. Paul was no freelance, even though he was commissioned directly from the throne of God. On the contrary, he was very much church-based. When the Lord finally gave him the word to start his first missionary journey, it was through the ministry of the believers at Antioch (Acts 13:1-3). He submitted to their commissioning and set off as part of a team, initially comprising of Barnabas, John-Mark and himself.[8] On completion of his first journey he reported back to Antioch and rested a while. His second journey was brought about through the recognition of a need, rather than by a gift of the Spirit. The importance of a good church base cannot be overstressed. Paul demonstrated that he was submitted to leadership, and was not working on his own. The team that gathered around him is mentioned several times in Acts and in the epistles.[9]

Pre-Christian Missionary Influence

Paul's missionary strategy starts in the extra but subordinate with His early religious experience, including his training and after-training deep devotion involvement. Therefore, it is essential to include his pre-Christian religious activities as beginning of his missionary interest. Paul himself sees this experience as fundamental for his later ministry, and he often gives in his writings partial or full description. From such passages we are aware of his Judaic background, as well as his early training at the feet of Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). It is reasonable to conclude that in that period Paul is formed as a Pharisee who understands and strongly supports his convictions.[10] Paul understands of Judaic mission in three aspects: presentation, conversion and organization became essential strategy for his future apostolic missionary task. Presentation will developed into the preaching of the Gospel, conversion to faith and organization to the Church infrastructure. These have been the backbone of early church mission to the modern day evangelical mission.[11]

Ministerial Call and Church Formation

It is evident that the object of Paul's general missionary task is to preach the Gospel of the resurrected Christ to all people. While such a ministry is in parallel with missionary strategies of Peter and James's work among the Jews, it is in contrast with the ethnic objects of their mission. The focus of Paul's ministry is on the Gentiles, his mission is also convicted that Christianity must escape the Jewish framework and categories in which it has been born.[12] This is in contrary with the missionary statements of Paul. Such a modern idea the suppose braking of ethnic norms and cross cultural religious barriers along with constant resistance form old traditional structures. In this sense, the objective of Paul's ministry is revolutionary. He not only extends the limits of journeys, but also universalizes salvation for all. His mission plan does not stop at Judea and Samaria, but following the great commission, it extends to the ends of the world and keeps modernized missionary work of all ages.[13] Paul draws credentials for apostolic authority and qualifications for global mission from his personal experience of Christ after His Resurrection and the call Christ has placed upon his life. He also often refers to his early Christian training and his extended Jewish education, to which we can add his cross cultural gifts. He is extremely self conscious about his apostolic missions. The purpose of the preached gospel is to lead people all over the world to the obedience to faith, Paul's Gospel is missionary.[14] Beside the apostolic authority, in his writings and ministry, Paul often refers to the responsibility of the mission. He refers to the spiritual gifts and ministries as the means by which God intends to build His church.[15]. Nevertheless, these are not of the greatest importance for Paul, because in his theology, love prevails over all.

Paul's Ministerial Strategies

Paul's missionary strategy includes operational methods, first the presentation of the Gospel to the unbelievers in a way understandable for them. Due to the presence of the power and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, Paul's preaching was often accompanied by, signs wonders, supernatural operation of gifts of the Spirit and normally numerable conversions.[16] It is also important to note that Paul's missionary work starts where the mission work of the existing ecclesiastical structures ended. Paul sought to work in new areas. This is to say that Paul prefers to work where no one else has worked.[17]

The second factor implies the organization ecclesiastical infrastructure as unified in one universal body. Paul calls this structure the Mystery of Christ (Rom 16:24). For Paul, church planting is important for the expansion of the already lied Kingdom of God. As such, the church is the place for redefining corporate identity. The church is the assembly of the saints, fellowship of the first born and the community of the believers whose primary missions are spreading the Gospel. This is a corporate effort, not an individual one.[18] Third the foundation for Paul's ministry was his appointment of elders. In the Ephesians church particularly, we see him saying farewell to the leadership team that he had trained. Later he sent Timothy to them to deal with problems there caused by false teachers, something that he had foreseen. We see him having the same purpose in leaving Titus in Crete. Paul himself demonstrates submission to higher church leadership, and not his personal agenda.[19]The fourth step in Paul's missionary strategy is re-visitation. On many occasions the New Testament tells us the story of Paul visiting churches and places for a second time. This is also relative to his personal knowledge of the problems and the people of a given congregation (Rom. 16). Paul always made a point to visit the vital centres of trade and culture, knowing that each of them radiated an influence on the surrounding area. Paul connecting cities to surrounding villages were permanent lines of communication platform for his missionary works.[20] Most of Paul's writings serve as circular letters in the early church. This means that they were used not only for one location or one problem, but were essential for the establishment of the foundations of the teachings and practices in the early church to the twenty first century church as a whole. [21]

Conclusion

As mentioned above, the Great Commission is a global mandate, involving the challenge of making disciples among all the peoples of the world. While simply adding a new Christian community here and there throughout our urban centres is a wonderful task, we are called to multiplication, to seeing the Good News spread throughout the entire earth, starting from our own Jerusalem and continuing on to our neighbouring Samaria and to the ends of the earth. Our intent must be to see the churches that we plant become reproducing churches, and we must work and pray that this vision be planted within every created being. Paul practically sought passionately to work this in new areas. He did not wish to work in another man's territory. Nor did he 'steal sheep' from established churches, as has sadly gone on throughout history.[22] The important thing to see in Paul's principles of mission is not only his organizational strategy. Further more important was the leading of the Holy Spirit that he knew and the quality of his lifestyle. As Roland Allen pointed out: 'to seize a "strategic centre" we need not only a man capable of recognizing it, but capable of seizing it.'[23] We are in need of such men today to accomplish our part of the task.

Bibliography

  • Allen Ronald, Missionary Methods: St. Paul's or Ours? (London: Published by Robert Scott, 1913).
  • Barton John el al, The Oxford Bible Commentary (Oxford: Published Oxford University Press 2008).
  • Barnett Paul William, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Wn B. Eerdmans Published, 1997).
  • Dickson P. John, Mission-commitment in ancient Judaism and in the Pauline (Tubingen, GER: Mohr Siebeck 2003).
  • Doohan Helen, Paul's Vision of Church (Wiimington, NC: Michael Glazer Published 1989).
  • Dunn G.D. James, Beginning from Jerusalem (Grand Rapids, MI: Wn B. Eerdmans Published 2008).
  • Fry Henry Phibbs, The Scriptural Evidence of the Apostolic Ministry and Tradition of the Church Catholic (Charleston, SC: Published by Biblolife 2008).
  • Guthrie Donald, the Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids, MI: Wn B. EerdmansPublished, 2002).
  • Harding, Mark, Early Christian life and thought in social context: a reader (NewYork, NY: Continuum International Publishing Group 2003).
  • LaGrand, James, The Earliest Christian Mission to 'All Nations' in the Light ofMatthew's Gospel (Grand Rapids, MI: Wn B. Eerdmans Published 1999).
  • O'Brien P.T, Gospel and Mission in the Writings of Paul (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing 1995).
  • Riesner Rainer, Paul's Early Period (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Published, 1998).
  • Roncace Mark el at, Teaching the Bible (Atlanta, GA: Published by SBL 2005).
  • Shillington V. George, The New Testament in Context (London: Published by T&T Clarks 2008).
  • Sos Stefan, understanding 5 Fold Ministry (Bloomington, IN: Author House Publish 2006).
  • Smyth T. Benrad, Paul. Mystic and Missionary (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Publishing 1980).
  • Stetzer Ed, Planting Missional Churches (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group 2006).
  • Wood O. George, MDL403 - Synoptic Gospel and Acts Part 2 (Springfield, Missouri: Global University Press 3rd Edition 2004).
  • Verkuyl J, Contemporary Missiology, an Introduction. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Published, 1987).
  1. Mark Harding, Early Christian life and thought in social context: a reader (New York, NY: Continuum International Publishing Group 2003) 168
  2. V. George Shillington, The New Testament in Context (London: Published by T&T Clarks 2008) 39
  3. Mark Roncace, Patrick Gray, Teaching the Bible ( Atlanta, GA: Published by SBL 2005) 333
  4. James LaGrand, The Earliest Christian Mission to 'All Nations' in the Light of Matthew's Gospel (Grand Rapids, MI: Wn B. Eerdmans Published 1999) 237
  5. James D. G. Dunn, Beginning from Jerusalem (Grand Rapids, MI: Wn B. Eerdmans Published 2008) 536
  6. Henry Phibbs Fry, The Scriptural Evidence Of The Apostolic Ministry And Tradition Of The Church Catholic (Charleston, SC: Published by Biblolife 2008) 83
  7. Stefan Sos, Understanding 5 Fold Ministry (Bloomington, IN: Author House Publish 2006) 213
  8. George O. Wood, MDL403 - Synoptic Gospel and Acts Part 2 ( Springfield, Missouri: Global University Press 3rd Edition 2004) 211
  9. Wood: MDL403 - Synoptic Gospel and Acts Part , 262 - 266
  10. Rainer Riesner, Paul's Early Period (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Published, 1998)
  11. John P. Dickson, Mission-commitment in ancient Judaism and in the Pauline (Tubingen, GER: Mohr Siebeck 2003) 49
  12. Benrad T. Smyth, Paul. Mystic and Missionary (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Publishing 1980) 24.
  13. Helen Doohan, Paul's Vision of Church (Wiimington, NC: Michael Glazer Published 1989) 21.
  14. P. T. O'Brien, Gospel and Mission in the Writings of Paul (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing 1995) 58
  15. Brien, Gospel and Mission in the Writings of Paul (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing 1995) 328
  16. Paul William Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids, MI: Wn B. Eerdmans Published, 1997) 49
  17. Barnett: The Second Epistle to the Corinthians 335
  18. Ed Stetzer, Planting Missional Churches (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group 2006) 54
  19. Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids, MI: Wn B. Eerdmans Published, 2002) 91
  20. Barnett, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians 12
  21. John Barton and John Muddinman, The Oxford Bible Commentary (Oxford: Published Oxford University Press 2008
  22. J. Verkuyl, Contemporary Missiology, an Introduction (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Published, 1987) 113
  23. Ronald Allen: Missionary Methods: St. Paul's or Ours? (London: Published by Robert Scott, 1913) 26

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