While the Bible should be the primary influence on strategy and methods, culture must bear on decisions about these issues.
For example, the Bible clearly calls missionaries to make disciples who will in turn form churches led by Biblically qualified elders. These commands are relevant to God’s people in all of time, in all cultures.
However, our own culture has led us to certain expectations about how to carry out these truths. Are they cultural or Biblical expectations? Culture would force us to ask these sorts of questions about strategy and methods:
- If the church exists in a Muslim culture, might Christians take off their shoes and wash their hands and faces before entering worship? Might they pray in church with Islamic postures?
- Must leaders earn a three-year Master of Divinity degree in order to pastor? (When is an elder “qualified to teach”?) What if no seminaries exist locally? What if the church is multiplying faster than a three-year expensive leadership track can generate leaders?
- If the church exists among 20-somethings in secular Europe, must “devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching” take the form of a one-way lecture-style sermon, or could they discuss the Bible in groups?
Many of the issues in this section of the “Missionary” book reflect practical implementation of four principles of missiology which Propempo teaches as essential training for missionaries. They are:
- Learn the language and culture of the recipients or target group as the first priority.
- Model the development of a plurality of local leaders from the earliest stages of spiritual growth.
- Focus on the Bible as the source of authoritative guidance for the new believers and the newly forming church.
- Use only locally acceptable and reproducible methods and means of ministry.
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