Evangelism

DMM Obstacle: Cultural Misunderstanding Gets In the Way

cultural misunderstandings about Christianity
“Nobody likes you. It would be better if you and your Jesus had never been born. We hear that you are all cannibals–you eat the flesh of your children in your sacred meetings.” This was said by Caecilius to his friend Octavius in the 2nd century. Pretty significant cultural misunderstanding about Christianity, don’t you think? Cultural barriers are not new to us today.  As we work with people from other faith backgrounds, these misunderstandings feel huge. Could they even prevent the starting of a Disciple Making Movement? How can they be overcome?

Good News: It’s A Short-Term Problem

Many cultural misunderstandings about Christianity exist. These do create difficulty in the early stages of the movement. Over time, the problem lessens. More and more indigenous people come to Christ and express the gospel in simple ways. Barriers fall. One of the characteristics of DMMs is that they are locally led. As outsiders recede into the background, cultural expressions of the gospel emerge naturally. The image of Christianity (and of Jesus followers) in the region begins to shift.

Aren’t You A Christian?

I was riding first class on an Indian train. I almost never did that, but no other seat was available. A well-educated Muslim businessman sat in the opposite seat in my compartment. I was tired, so I relaxed and read a book.  He was busy on his cell phone, talking to clients. I noticed that he was articulate. He spoke excellent English and was clearly well-traveled.  After a few hours, he too relaxed a bit and pulled a book out of his briefcase. He began to read a publication put out by a group called Osho. Having had some experience with this group, I was surprised to see him reading this.  We began a conversation. I asked what he thought of the book and the Osho philosophy of life. “What do you think about their attitudes toward freedom and sexuality?” I inquired. Slowly, the door opened to share that I believed God (using the Muslim word- Allah). “He has given us guidelines about how to function well in this aspect of life,” I shared.  I believe the all-powerful Creator loves us and gave these rules to us for our good and blessing,” I said. Surprise showed on his face.  He then asked a revealing question. “Aren’t you a Christian?”  He automatically assumed I was. After all, I was from a Western country.  “I am a follower of Jesus,” I replied. “I worship the Creator of the world.” His face twisted into a confused look. “I thought all Christians believed in free sex,” he said.  Though educated and well-traveled, he had never met a genuine follower of Christ. His only perception of Christianity came from Hollywood movies. I was so happy to share with him more about who Jesus is and how He taught us to live.  

4 Tips For Overcoming Initial Cultural Barriers

1) Don’t promote Christianity, share Jesus.

“It is He whom we proclaim as we admonish and wisely teach everyone, so that we may present everyone mature in the Messiah.” Col 1:28 ISV (Italics added).

 Many times, cultural misunderstandings about Christianity relate to organized religion. I often say, “I don’t care if people become Christians or not, I want them to become disciples of Jesus.”  Our goal should not be to promote our religion or to convince anyone to change religions. We must change our mindset. We are there to share about Jesus. Introduce people to Him. Focus on who He is, what He taught and that He is alive today.  Barriers fall away when we stop trying to get people to become Christians and simply introduce them to the One who changed our lives. If it helps, call yourself a Jesus follower, and don’t use the term Christian at the beginning (or at all).

2) Learn about the cultural barriers and how to bridge them without watering down the power of the gospel. read more

Not Immediately Finding a Man of Peace?

man of peace

Days, weeks and months go by. For some teams, it can even be years. You have prayed, fasted and have been doing evangelism. But you still haven’t found the man of peace in your village or city. Frustration and hopelessness build inside.

The temptation to give up on Disciple Making Movement (DMM) principles is growing.

“Maybe this doesn’t work and I should just try a more traditional method of evangelism,” you think.  Or perhaps anger toward God is also there. “If the harvest truly is ripe as Jesus said it was, why doesn’t God bring them to me?” read more

Pushy Evangelism- Is it Wrong?

evangelism

There is a part of the shopping mall I avoid. It’s where they give out free samples of perfume and makeup. The salespeople there are quite annoying. If I even glance their direction, I end up stuck. I have to listen to their speech about a product I don’t want. Pushy evangelists feel the same way. I hate the idea of forcing people, in any way, to “listen to the gospel.” Yet, we have a life-saving message. How pushy should we be in our evangelism?

Many cultures teach us that to make anyone feel uncomfortable, or forced to do anything, is wrong. The big unspoken rule in evangelism today is “Don’t make them feel pressured.” I have been wondering. Is that a biblical way of thinking about sharing the gospel or not? read more

Evangelism Starts With Love

evangelism starts

Ding, dong. They are at your door. Or maybe they are walking through the train. They’re selling something you don’t need or want. It is a children’s encyclopedia set, some kind of kitchen gadget, or cheaply made toys. How do you feel? The primary thought in my mind is always, “How do I get rid of these people as fast as possible?” I want to stay polite and kind, but not have to listen to them! Many people feel that way toward us when we share the gospel. Are we just salespeople, pushing our goods? No. Absolutely not. But, our evangelism is no more than a slick sales tactic, if it doesn’t flow from genuine love for the unreached. read more

3 Keys to Finding a Person of Peace

person of peace

Were you ever lost in the woods and couldn’t find your way out? Maybe you’ve played a video game and were stuck in a room (in the game). You couldn’t find the door to get to the next passageway or level. That is a difficult place to be! You wander around not making progress, getting more frustrated each moment; searching, searching, searching. Disciple making among the unreached can feel similar! “Where is that key person?” we wonder. Finding the Person of Peace is important to starting a Disciple Making Movement. It takes you to the next level. read more

What is a Lost and Saved List?

Lost and Saved List

Do you have a favorite tool for gardening or working in the kitchen? At our house, we have a favorite knife. It is sharp and the handle is just the right size. It works well for chopping about anything. If my husband and I are both in the kitchen, there sometimes is a competition for who gets to use that knife! Tools are important in seeing progress and becoming effective. The T4T Lost and Saved list is one of the best tools I have used. It will help you train people to start Disciple Making Movements. read more

3 Things That Increase Bold Evangelism

bold evangelism

“I have tried and tried to get the believers in our fellowship to share the gospel, but they are fearful, shy and just don’t seem able to witness.  Bold evangelism just isn’t happening!”

This is not unusual to hear from the church planters I am coaching.  What can we do to increase boldness and help the disciples we work with to overcome their fears?

3 Things That Increase Bold Evangelism

1. Receiving the Holy Spirit

The classic biblical example is Peter in Acts Chapter 2.  When Jesus was being tried, three times he denied even knowing Him.  He certainly wasn’t witnessing at that point!  But after he received the power of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, he stood in front of thousands and boldly proclaimed the gospel with authority and conviction.  If your church members aren’t witnessing, pray for them to receive the power of the Holy Spirit.  It will make a world of difference. read more

Trainees – What Gospel Do They Share?

gospel sharing includes the cross

Gospel Sharing- Some Big Concerns

I’ve been concerned as we have been training in various locations. How do we approach gospel sharing and evangelism? We have been training people in how to share the Jesus story, Creation to Christ stories, and the basic gospel message.  I’m quite shocked at the number of pastors, church planters, elders and local believers who seem to have little understanding of what the gospel is.  Many cannot easily and clearly share a simple gospel story.  Some of those unable to do this went through credible Christian training and discipleship programs.  This is worrying. read more