Several years ago at a church in the USA, we overheard a German exchange student ask his friend while the deacons collected the offering, “Why are we passing these baskets around?”
His friend, who grew up in the church, responded, “I don’t know, but we do it every week.”
Talk about a missed opportunity!
This small conversation between friends led us to ask some bigger questions. Were these students just lost in translation? Or were the traditions of the church being miscommunicated? What other elements of worship and Christian practices needed better explanation for non-believers, guests, and even our regular attenders?
Contextualization is a big topic in the church-planting world, and it has implications for established churches too. As our international baptist churches worship in diverse cities and witness to people in post-Christian cultures, how can we remove barriers and build bridges for the gospel?
In his book Center Church, the beloved late pastor, church-planter, and evangelist-apologist Tim Keller said,
“Sound contextualization means translating and adapting the communication and ministry of the gospel to a particular culture without compromising the essence and particulars of the gospel itself. The great missionary task is to express the gospel message to a new culture in a way that avoids making the message unnecessarily alien to that culture, yet without removing or obscuring the scandal and offense of biblical truth” – Tim Keller (Center Church, 89).
Communicating the Gospel
So, with our German exchange student in mind, we don’t need to stop collecting an offering during worship, but maybe we should adjust our communication about tithing or change our method of giving during Sunday services instead.
As international pastors and church planters, how do we communicate the gospel each week? Do our words and practices cause confusion or create opportunities? How can we remove unnecessary barriers and build bridges for the gospel instead?
Church Multiplication Network
Join us on Tuesday the 13th of June 2023, at 3pm (Frankfurt) 9am (Panama) for a discussion about “Removing Barriers and Building Bridges.” (Check your inbox for the Zoom link or contact the IBC Office for assistance.)
This month, Darryl asked Lydia and I (Taylor Whitley), church planters in Berlin to lead this conversation. Join us as we moderate a discussion designed to help us recognize areas where we can better communicate the gospel in our contexts.
Your Church Multiplication Leadership Team looks forward to seeing you!