HOW TO HELP PEOPLE TURN THEIR TRUST FROM A STRONG LEADER TO THE SCRIPTURES
Some Christians have a hard time letting go of the controls over their church members. Instead of helping their members learn how to trust God, some leaders try to foster a dependency in their members. As a result many followers of strong leaders only know how to interpret the Bible through the perspectives of their Pastor and his set of priorities. Sadly, this is why many of the members in some fighting fundamentalists' churches have not learned how to think for themselves. According to the 1978-79 Gallup-Christianity Today survey, evangelicals-fundamentalists are the least educated of the groups surveyed. Only 9 percent completed university education, while 37 percent had not completed high school. A good education cannot make us all leaders - but it can teach us which leaders to follow. The Lord wants each believer to depend on Him, His word, and His Spirit for their needs.
The following illustration, adapted from Eugene Nida's Message and Mission textbook, is an excellent description of the problem and a solution for many church members - at least the ones who want to learn directly from God rather than having to rely on a preacher for their spiritual food:
The Bible's Culture and Truth and Reality -
Each of the 66 books of the Bible has its own sender-message-channel- filters-receivers divinely inspired by the Holy Spirit.
The Preacher's Culture and Truth -and Reality - Each preacher has his unique set of assumptions, methods and perspectives.
The Audience's Culture - Each member of the audience has their own culture, truth and realities based on their own world-views, assumptions, methods, cultures, and levels of spiritual maturity. It is better for the audience to learn how to get their solutions directly from the scriptures rather than
having to filter a pastors' or teachers' assumptions and perspectives to the scriptures.
The goal of our instruction should be love from a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith (I Timothy 1:5). The godly leader's goal should not be to develop a dependency in his followers. A good leader inspires people to have confidence in him; a great leader inspires them to have confidence in themselves. This kind of dependency forces the audience to have to filter Biblical truths through the culture, perspectives and human assumptions of the leader. Instead, the goal of a mature Christian is to learn how to depend upon the Lord and His word for instruction, encouragement, and correction.
The following are just some of the ways to help people communicate the scriptures. Your goal is to help people learn how to find answers to their own problems in the Bible without having to rely on certain people. "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)
1. Study the needs of your audience's culture, then speak to these concerns. Some of the members may have marriage, inter-personal, financial, or family problems they are wrestling with. A wise leader knows how to steer his people in the direction of the best passages in the Bible where each individual can learn to discover the solutions to their problems. Each leader needs to learn to listen to people's felt, real, and perceived needs.
2. Search for an insider who can help you learn more about the audience's culture. This informant can teach you about the particular problems of key people in your group. Learn their views on relationships, work, money, politics, history, the scriptures and leadership. One of the main advantages of working through an insider is that it helps the leader to develop bridges of trust within the community network. Try to choose an insider who is trustworthy, credible and is well connected to the opinion shapers in the group.
3. Involve yourself with the audience as a participant-observer. Many leaders have succeeded in learning how to communicate across barriers by living, associating and involving themselves with the everyday activities of the group. By working with, visiting and studying the host's culture, the leader will be able to gain a deeper sense of identification with the people. Christ gave us the supreme example through His incarnation.
4. Adapt to the norms of your host's culture. It is unrealistic to expect an audience to adjust their norms to the culture and perspectives of their leader. The key goal is to help everyone become more like Jesus Christ. Play down the importance of certain procedures while emphasizing the goals of Christ and His kingdom.
5. Do not expect people to think like those who are from your own cultural background. Learn to communicate to people in ways that they are accustomed to learning. For example, they may be conditioned to learn through stories. If so, start teaching from the gospels and the great biographical sketches in the Old Testament. Adjust your methods to suit the norms, expectations and customs of your audience. Each culture has its own preferred communication styles.