You Don't Have to Cross the Ocean to Reach the World
The Power of Local Cross-Cultural Ministry
Chosen (Baker), 2008, 197 pp., ISBN 978-0-8007-9447-7
David Boyd is a New Zealander who came out of New Life Center in Christchurch, New Zealand to start a church in Cabramatta (Sydney, Australia), perhaps the most multicultural local region in the world. This is a dynamic multicultural church of 500 made up of more than 82 different ethnic groups. David has traveled and ministered in many countries.
Boyd says missions should primarily be a function of the local church, not mission structures. Churches should be multicultural. Then the Gospel can cross cultural barriers within the church and bicultural people can be prepared to take the Gospel back to their ethnic groups in their homeland. This is how the Great Commission can best be carried out. [You probably have an immediate response to this. How does your response change after you've finished the notes? dlm]
Although multiculturalism is accelerating, only 7.5% of the 300,000 churches in America are racially mixed. (Foreword)
The 21st century is characterized by movement from villages to cities, population decline in the developed world, and migration from underdeveloped to economically developed countries. Migration is changing the face of the world. People from all over the world are moving to the cities. Most will be the "urban poor." Therefore reaching the urban dweller is both the greatest challenge and the key to effectively fulfilling the Great Commission. (17-18)
Mission is not so much about sending people to the mission field as "enabling the Gospel to move across cultural barriers and take permanent root in other cultures." (20) "The key to reaching the nations is first to reach the stranger who dwells among us. This gives us the opportunity to develop connected communities that can cross any political, linguistic or geographical barrier." (23)
Mission is not so much people going to another country as it is the movement of the Gospel across cultural barriers. (27) Monocultural people have difficulty separating their culture from the Gospel. This increases barriers to the gospel. Bicultural people are better equipped to minimize the cultural baggage. (29-30)
The only example of E2 or E3 evangelism in the book of Acts is Peter's visit to Cornelius. And he was a very reluctant missionary who quickly returned home. It seems the early Church impacted the world significantly using only E1 evangelism. (32-3)
The Samaritans had many common cultural values with Jews that allowed the Gospel to penetrate with relative ease. This community was impacted by Philip, a Hellenistic Jew. (34) Each of the documented cases of the Gospel crossing a cultural barrier involved a Hellenistic Jew. (37) The Hellenistic Jews understood Greek culture. They had bicultural abilities. By contrast most Western missionaries are monocultural. (40)
The disciples were focused on a kingdom in which they would rule. Beyond that they were focused on their own people, Israel. They had a strongly monocultural worldview. The Church built a community of strong relationships that flowed into caring and sharing. But they did not focus on reaching the nations. The first breakout came from persecution that unintentionally started the spread of the Gospel.
By contrast the church in Antioch was birthed out a people movement. (75) It was a multicultural church and the leaders had a visionary attitude that intentionally responded to the mandate. The leaders were predominantly Hellenists, not Hebraic Jews. Intentional mission was initiated.
This church "created an environment where the ethne of the world and the church collided." Its multicultural leadership initiated a mission thrust to the whole Roman Empire. (82)
"This preoccupation with building ethnic churches and congregations has markedly reduced the availability of bicultural people within our churches." When we do encourage immigrants to become part of an existing church, we fail to take into account the issue of the existing church culture. Immigrants may feel marginalized and not fully part of the church. To integrate may cost them their own ethnic identity. By contrast, the Antioch church embraced many ethnic groups. Multicultural leadership attracted bicultural people. "The multicultural church has the greatest ability to develop bicultural people…." (94)
"In our missions today, we tend to send potted plants rather than transplants." (97) By contrast, like Ruth, we are called into a new community and asked to identify with it totally. If we have the attitude that we will go home when the job is done, we will never fully belong to the community. (98)
Mathew 28:19 is telling us to go culturally, not geographically. "God intends everyone to move out of his or her ethnic group." (102) The church is a family that functions with family values, rather than an institution with institutional values. This makes a big difference in how we do discipleship. As children live in families, they naturally pick up the values of that family. (103) Discipleship is relational more than instructional.
"So when Jesus told His disciples to go and make disciples, they knew exactly what they were to do. They were to go and find others and make them a part of their family, to fully involve them in their lives and have them eat with them, travel, with them, go on holiday with them and become their brothers and sisters. This was how they were discipled…." (105)
"If we really wanted to obey the Great Commission, we would build multicultural churches in which cross-cultural communication would happen naturally." (106)
"God expects every believer to be involved and has made cross-cultural discipleship available and attainable to all." (106)
"…missions should primarily be a function of the local church, not the mission field, and that the raising up of bicultural people for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission should be our major focus…." (107)
"We need to understand the motive content of people's perceived call. The issues revolve around 'my' call and 'my' destiny, which is an individualistic Western cultural response." "…but we need to remember that the primary issue is not 'my' call or 'my' destiny--it is that the unreached be reached!" (109)
Many monocultural people sense a call or burden for an ethnic group. They assume God wants them to be "missionaries." But they may not be equipped to be effective and we send them out to see them struggle. Perhaps the better role would be to work with those who are potentially bicultural in our community, to invest in the lives of people who can go into cross-cultural situations. (109-10)
"Paul…wanted to build visionary churches that would become launching pads for further Christian ministry to the province and beyond." He focused on Greek cities where new ideas were accepted in a melting pot of people. His goal "was to establish key centers in an area and then release their members to accomplish the task of evangelizing from that location." (114)
He focused on the Jewish community first, the places God had prepared, then the gentile proselytes, and third the gentile God-fearers. This latter group was the most open to Paul's' message. (119-20)
Paul was supported by the churches he planted, not - so far as we know - from the churches that sent him. There was no financial dependency on the sending church. (125, 126)
We have all the people groups of the known world in our cities. The key is to embrace these strangers. "We need to develop a biblical understanding and attitude to the 'stranger' among us." (129)
People gather in situations where they feel welcomed. We need to genuinely seek the welfare of these people as the Scriptures teach. (131) We can tell how well we are doing by their desire to be part of us. The principle of family says if we build genuine family relationships with the foreigners in our midst, we will see them integrated into our churches. Family takes priority. (132)
"God wanted the stranger to be influenced by the values He placed in the Jewish nation. Through this contact they would see the enormous blessings and benefits these values offered and would embrace them by becoming part of the inheritance of God in Israel. Then they might return to their own land and influence the nations with these same values." (134-35)
"The New Testament teaches that our ethnicity is not to be a reason for creating division. Rather, the gathering together of many races within the church is an incredible declaration of the redemptive plan of God and is the greatest visible expression of unity the world can see." (140)
"The most vital factor in fulfilling the Great Commission is not the mission machinery but the local church. Until the Church takes seriously Jesus' mandate to reach all ethnic groups, and sees this as its main task at home, we shall never get the job done." (148)
"The local church must take ownership…to reach all ethnic groups within its sphere of influence." (149) "The Church must effectively include people of diverse ethnic backgrounds." (149)
This kind of church will produce passionate bicultural Christians and take the Gospel across cultural barriers within the church and then into the immigrant cultures around us. And bicultural Christians will be prepared to take the Gospel back to their own people group. The Gospel will spread naturally down kinship lines. (150) The Gospel will be much more readily received from 'insiders' than from 'outsiders.' (153)
Because there are representatives of any given ethnic group in many cities around the globe, the Gospel can move from the "rim" of these cities to the "hub," or homeland, of an ethnic group. (154) "We have found that immigrants have a passion for their people and are prepared to take the Gospel back to their countries. Some go permanently, while others travel home to build up the church…." (156)
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