Perspectives on the World Christian Movement (Perspectives) is a fifteen week course about the global purpose of Christians, designed around four vantage points or “perspectives” – Biblical, Historical, Cultural and Strategic. The course has the objective of opening the eyes of Christians to the vision that God has a “world-size” role for every believer in His global mission. The point of this course is to simply show practical examples of how missions can be done wisely and well, against the background that God will fulfill His promises.
Declare His glory among the nations, His marvelous works among all the peoples! (Psalm 96:3).
I have embarked on the Independent Study Online format of the Perspectives study program and will periodically share a perspective on different lessons.
Lesson 10 – How Shall They Hear? This lesson begins the cultural discovery that can equip us to introduce the Gospel to other peoples. Concepts like: Worldview, Redemptive Analogy and Oral Learning were instructive to me as I began to see the creative expanse of God in the scope of the peoples of the world.
Worldview can be defined as the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society which encompasses the entirety of the individual or society’s knowledge and point of view. At the heart of any culture is its worldview, answering the most basic question: “what is real?” Worldview provides a system of beliefs which are reflected in one’s actual values and behavior. This makes up the culture of a people – worldview, beliefs, values and behavior. A thorough understanding of the worldview of the people missionaries are trying to reach is prerequisite to any effective communication of God’s good news to the responding people group. It is therefore also important for every local church to be aware of the worldview of the society they serve.
Practically, how a person understand or receive a message can be dependent on how the message draw on what is familiar to the recipient. “Redemptive analogy” is an example of this. It is defined as a way used by missionaries to communicate the message of redemption through the culture and history of the people being ministered to, resulting in the message standing a greater chance of being understood and accepted. This is really an effective strategy to communicate the gospel. Once I was talking with a young man about God and was having difficulty getting him to understand trusting and obeying God. He was a soccer player so I said to him “trusting and obeying God is like showing respect and obedience to your soccer coach or captain on the field of play”. My troubles with this soccer player were over after that. Thank you God.
Oral leaners are people who learn best and whose lives are most likely to be transformed when instruction comes in oral forms. In the article, Making Disciples of Oral Learning (course material) it is said that 2/3 of all people in the world are oral communicators. Oral cultures transmit their beliefs, heritage, values and other important information by means of stories, proverbs, poetry, chants, music, dances, ceremonies, rites of passage. As an adult and a parent it is always interesting how children say a scripture they were not really taught but just hear and use as fun but there is such a challenge sometimes in a class to get them to learn that same verse. Oral learning is considered basic and explains this to some extent. Orally is primarily how babies learn, face-to-face in a highly relational societies. My concern now is that it is said that an estimated 90% of the world’s Christian workers presenting the Gospel use highly literate communication styles, include Western missionaries. This could mean that we are more ineffective than we could be.
I really consider worldview, redemptive analogy and oral learning as very pertinent parts of missionary work. Key to the success of practically reaching a community for Christ is to appreciate what is real in that culture (worldview), explaining the gospel in a way that makes it seems culturally right (Redemptive analogy) and presenting the gospel in such a way that lives are most likely transformed when instruction (oral learning). I will be spending much time in these lesson after completing this course of study.
– Garfield Miller, Missionary Society (Jamaica)