Summary: Paul learned how to adapt his communications to maximize its effects with the Athenians. We too should ask the Holy Spirit to direct our communications for its greatest results. The Spirit is able to empower, enable and influence the outcome of our commun
CULTURALLY ADAPT YOUR COMMUNICATION
Illustration: The Importance of Good Communications:Professional golfer Tommy Bolt was playing in Los Angeles and had a caddy with a reputation of constant chatter. Before they teed off, Bolt told him, "Don’t say a word to me. And if I ask you something, just answer yes or no." During the round, Bolt found the ball next to a tree, where he had to hit under a branch, over a lake and onto the green. He got down on his knees and looked through the trees and sized up the shot.
"What do you think?" he asked the caddy. "Five-iron?"
"No, Mr. Bolt," the caddy said.
"What do you mean, not a five-iron?" Bolt snorted.
"Watch this shot."
The caddy rolled his eyes. "No-o-o, Mr. Bolt."
But Bolt hit it and the ball stopped about two feet from the hole. He turned to his caddy, handed him the five-iron and said, "Now what do you think about that? You can talk now." "Mr. Bolt," the caddy said, "that wasn’t your ball."
Crossroads, Issue No. 7, pp. 15-16
Paul learned how to adapt his communications to maximize its effects with the Athenians. We too should ask the Holy Spirit to direct our communications for its greatest results.
The Spirit is able to empower, enable and influence the outcome of our communication if we will trust Him and ask for His wisdom. (James 1:5)
Many of us spend more time talking than we do in preparation which usually leads to minimal results. Paul the apostle spoke to the Athenians by doing his homework first about their cultural background and trusting the Lord to move his lips in a way that would stir the hearts of his listeners. Not only does the Lord want to direct our intentions but also the response of our listeners. Let us learn some of the key components of communications from the example Paul gives us in Acts 17.
1. Emphasize Christ in all your communications. Paul preached Christ as the Savior who came to save people from their sins. We may not be the most sanguine communicators but we always succeed when we seek to communicate Christ as the Savior, the solution to the root problem of all problems. Act 17:3 ,
"Explaining and proving that Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ."
2. One missionary learned that by relying on his sole convert to sing the gospel to his own people in culturally acceptable music, the message was successfully communicated.
By using indigenous people to communicate in culturally approved channels you will enhance your communications’ effectiveness.
3. Lead the people through what they already know to the unknown truths. Notice how Paul preached to the citizens of Athens on Mars hill in Acts 17.
He admired their culture, literature, philosophy, and even religion before he presented the gospel.
4. Look for the points of unity, similarity, agreement, and common histories between your people’s culture and the scriptural messages.
Application: Draw links, bridges, and comparisons between the two. This will improve the contextualization of your messages.
5. Expect jealous skeptics whenever you try to communicate the gospel and the truth of Christ. Acts 17:5 indicate, "But the Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city." Take up the full armor of God so that you can stand firm in the evil day."
Application: There will always be a need to be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. (Eph. 6:10-18)
6. Paul observed that the city of Athens was full of idols so he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God fearing Greeks. Begin to speak to those who are especially prone to be responsive to spiritual solutions to their concerns. Direct your communications to those who are first spiritual receptive.
Application: Realize that these will be your greatest advocates as insiders who can more effectively communicte the gospel’s message from an insider’s perspective.
7. Paul preached a God who was seeking people to save them from their sins but that men need to seek him in order to find Him. Present God as one who is looking, seeking and searching for people who recognize their needs. Do not present God as one who is passive but actively seeking the lost sheep of the world. This presents the Lord as a positive God who is eager to bring people into His eternal family. (Acts 17:27
"God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him though he is not far from each one of us."
Communication is always a two way street but it begins and end in Christ. For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. (Rom. 11:35,36)