Over the last several weeks, in our series in the gospel of Luke (9:1-26 “Our Mission” and 9:27-62 “Things that Derail our Mission”), I have been preaching about our mission as believers. The theme of the gospel of Luke is found in 19:10,
“for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Jesus, the first missionary, humbled himself and condescended to our culture filled with sin and all its repurcussions (Phil. 2:1-11). Unfortunately many churches that claim to follow Jesus are not on His mission but have settled for a pseudo-mission of moralism and isolationism which has resulted in an impotent Church that cares more about picketing, the anti-Christ, the timing of Jesus’ return, and conspiracy theories than it does about the lost people Jesus’ explicitly called us to convert into disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).
Because Jesus knows we’re not that smart He made our mission pretty simple,
“Go make disciples…”
In standard fashion we have convoluted this command and in the process we have veered off of our mission of taking the gospel to everyone who is living in separation from God.
As Mark Driscoll so often says, it’s about “taking the timeless truth of the gospel to the lost using timely methods.”
Jesus, Paul, and every effective missionary since has understood contextualization. In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Paul makes it clear that he was willing to do anything apart from sin to bring the gospel to his context in a way that resonates with them.
“Contextualization is about making the church as culturally accessible as possible without compromising the truth of Christian belief. In this, what is sought is timeless truth and timely methods. In other words, contextualization is not making the gospel relevant, but showing the relevance of the gospel.” (Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears ,Vintage Church, p. 228)
Why is it that certain segments of Christianity are so afraid of this concept? Why are so many churches, pastors, and Christians content to isolate themselves in their Bible bubbles when we know full well that Jesus engaged His culture? Why do we insist on hanging on to our tried and true “methods” of ministry when we can clearly see they are failing?
Oh and why are those “methods” acceptable but anything that doesn’t fit into our little box labeled “philosophy of ministry” aren’t?