Hi, I’m Bevin Ginder with GlobalCAST Resources and we’d like to focus in a little bit on the idea of knowing your audience. We’ve said elsewhere that missions mobilizers should embrace the postures of learner, servant, and storyteller. And if you’re functioning as a storyteller when you enter a community, you know or should know, that knowing your audience is crucial. Doing the work ahead of time to understand their worldview, their preferences, their culture, their symbolism things like that and then adapting the message without compromising it in order to have it be more relevant. So, just because we’re standing in front of an audience and talking does not mean that communication has happened. We have to do the work of adapting the message to make it relevant.
Now in the mission circles, this has a big word “contextualization”. Which is just adapting without compromising the message in order to make it culturally relevant to the people that you’re trying to reach. This is so crucial and we have made progress and have so much more to make in this area and yet we’re asking specifically for us as missions mobilizers, is contextualization or knowing your audience relevant to what we’re called to? And it’s absolutely essential! So this is an over generalization maybe, but in the Body of Christ, you can see at least three streams that we need to understand and adapt the message in order to make it relevant.
One stream would be the evangelicals stream in the Body of Christ and there they have an emphasis on the truth of God, right? They want to hear stories that explain a relational God. They want to hear stories that emphasize the speaking of the Gospel in such a way that people make a choice and decision and come into relationship with God. Great that’s come with those stories, they’re happening all the time.
Another stream within the Body of Christ you might call the charismatic stream. And there they want to emphasize and have revelation on the power of God. And so there are lots of wonderful stories that emphasize how God is able to step into space and time and change things and deliver people and heal people. All the signs and wonders stories are really relevant here and they want to hear about the gospel, the power of the gospel, on display. Great, let’s bring those stories, they are happening all the time.
We need to do that work of understanding our audience and adapting without compromising the message of God’s heart for the nations in order to make it relevant and embraceable
And then maybe another stream for want of a better term. Let’s call it the “mainline” stream of the Body of Christ. And here they want to emphasize the love of God. You see how all of these things are really important. The truth of God, the power of God, here the love of God. And so they want to hear stories that demonstrate providing God and God who cares about people. And people who are helping with practical tangible felt needs mercy, food, compassion of all sorts, the social aspects of the whole Gospel. They want to hear about that, and we have those stories that are happening all the time and we can bring that.
So again as missions mobilizers, is understanding your audience important? Absolutely! Is contextualization important? Absolutely! We need to do that work of understanding our audience and adapting without compromising the message of God’s heart for the nations in order to make it relevant and embraceable. More embraceable by these communities we’re trying to mobilize into their role in the Great Commission.