Summary: The decisions we make are only as good as the information we based them on,’’ said a famous man. If we are trying to catch fish it makes sense that we will want to know something about the animal. What type of fish are we looking for? What are his feedin


Learning Objectives

1. Analyze why we should conduct cross- cultural research?

2. Learn the components of research.

3. Discover the Biblical basis of research.

4. Describe some of the errors to avoid in research.

5. Understand how to overcome some of the hindrances to research.

6. Know how to use your research data in church planting and cross-cultural evangelism.

I. Why Conduct Cross-Cultural Research

``The decisions we make are only as good as the information we based them on,’’ said a famous man. If we are trying to catch fish it makes sense that we will want to know something about the animal. What type of fish are we looking for? What are his feeding characteristics? Will the fish be attracted by certain types of bait or lures? Is it better to use nets? Will the fish be found in a lake, river, or stream? What seasons are best for catching this particular kind of fish? How far will we have to go to locate his breeding grounds? When is the best time to fish for this particular fish? What obstacles will we face in finding the fish? What rewards are offered fish? What happens if we failed to catch the fish on our first attempts? Are there others who have tried to catch fish here before? What lessons can we learner from other fishermen? Is there any indigent who can help us understand the best ways to catch fish in his area? Are there any special things we need to know before we go looking for the fish? What kinds of instruments are most effective with this particular fish? These are questions that are essential to find answers for before we go fishing? Conducting cross-cultural research requires a parallel approach. In like fashion we are seeking to understand how the message will effectively move through the sender’s perspectives, the filters in the people, the context, the culture, the language, and be understood by the receiver.

In similar ways we need to understand something about how to collect information about the people, their culture, their history, their needs, their religious orientations, their social structures, their geography, their demography, their economical systems, their family life, their context, their world views, their former encounters with Christianity, their urban life, their village life, their marriages, their children, their educational systems, their goals, their problems, their political systems, and even their views towards African Traditional Religions, Secret Societies, Islam, or African Independent Churches. All of these bits of information will help us gain a window into the best ways to communicate the gospel in contextual, relevant, & appropriate ways!

II. What is Research?

A. Research is the gathering of information for use in decision making (Engel, 1977, p. 13)

B. Applied research is thinking about the applications of the acquired information. When conducted wisely, research can be one of the most powerful tools used by the Holy Spirit to bring about change. When the realities of the unreached are made available, people are burdened to pray, to give, to send missionaries, and to engage in projects to train workers for the harvest fields.

C. Currently, the Searchlight Survey team is conducting cross-cultural research into every local government of Nigeria identifying the nature of the unreached fields. Patience Ahmed, of Calvary Ministries indicates that after a survey she discovered very few churches in and around Asa Local Government of Kwara State, 20 kilometers from Ilorin where there are over 100 churches. Since Christians in Ilorin saw so many churches around them many assumed that nearby Asa had also been reached. As a result of the survey some of the churches have sent church planters to Asa area. This is an example of some of the benefits of applied research.

III. Biblical Basis For Research

Bavinck shows us that the gospel approach is structured around five main factors:

1). To whom am I bringing the gospel? In Acts Paul spoke differently to Festus, King Agrippa, and to the men on Mars hill because of their unique needs, personalities, positions, dispositions, and backgrounds. God is concerned about adjusting our message to whom we are speaking. This is inherent in the nature of Biblical theology as the history of special revelation progressively given.

2). Who is preaching? God spoke uniquely through many men and women in the scriptures working through their perspectives. Matthew presents Christ as a King. Luke presents Christ as the Son of Man with a universal appeal to the Gentiles. Mark presents Christ as a servant emphasizing more of what he did than what he said. John, however, emphasizes the deity of Christ. Each author has presented Christ from their unique perspective.

3). The timing of presenting the message effects its effectiveness. A number of times Jesus told people that His time had not yet come. References to the fullness of time are found throughout the scriptures. Clues for right timing in evangelism can be seen in the way that Christ timed his statements with Nicodemus, the woman at the well, and the rich young ruler.

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