Context is King

If we have learned anything from the history of missions, surely it is that God uses a variety of methods to bring in the lost sheep of his kingdom. Jesus himself attracted large crowds through preaching and feeding multitudes. Jesus told organic, mustard seed parables about the growth of the kingdom of God. He spent time with a few disciples and with crowds of thousands. What about the church? Consider the church beyond America. Small house churches are immensely effective in China, and large attractional churches are incredibly effective in South Korea, both reaching hundreds of thousands of people. It would seem that, when it comes to methods, context is king. Communist China calls for house churches; Christianized South Korea calls for big churches. This is a simplification, but the point remains that context is king—unless your contextualization compromises gospel integrity, in which case it is no longer contextualization but syncretism. But how do we discern between church methods that are syncretistic and methods that are contextualized? We must have a clear understanding of the gospel.

Perhaps we need to be debating the strength of the gospel that is being preached, taught, shared, and shown in our churches. Are we incarnating and attracting people to a diluted gospel or a strong gospel? Are we incarnating kitsch gospel or kerygmatic gospel? In the end, what are we calling people to? Is our gospel both missional and communal or inward and individualistic? If it’s the latter, then something is wrong with our gospel. What would happen if we stopped debating methods and started debating gospel—winsomely and charitably?

 From Jonathan Dodson at (My new favorite


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