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Summary: Principles of Identification in Cross-Cultural Church Planting and Evangelism

Principles of Identification in Cross-Cultural

Church Planting and Evangelism

Learning Objectives

1. The students will explain how one identifies with someone from another culture in evangelism.

2. The students will write a short paper discussing some of the limits of identifying with a person from another culture.

3. The students will list three ways that Paul and Christ identified with people from other cultures.

Introduction - Paul spoke of identification in I Cor. 9:19-22, let us see what he meant.

``Though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.’’

Identification - To show a sense of sameness, likeness, unity of purpose with people. To have a similarity of interests, attitudes, goals, dress, language, appetites, and lifestyles even at the cost of concealing one’s own individual distinctiveness and uniqueness. Jesus Christ is the best example of one who identified with the people He came to serve. (Mark 10:45)

I. Identification is a Helpful Means to Sharing the Gospel

A. Paul and Jesus practiced identification to help people understand the gospel in a way that they could relate to. Jesus worked as a carpenter’s son while Paul made tents. Both professions could be closely identified by the people. Missionaries must be willing to learn the culture of the people and adjust their lifestyles accordingly to the customs, patterns, and socially acceptable ways of living in seeking to identify with the people. By studying the culture, the history, and the social norms of the people, a missionary will be better able to identify with the people.

B. Identification helps people accept the message of the missionary because he can be seen ``as one of us!’’

C. By eating the foods of the people missionaries can identify closely with the people’s appetites.

D. By dressing like the people the missionaries can identify with the people’s looks.

E. By spending time with the people the missionaries can identify with the people’s values, actions, stories, concerns, problems, and needs.

F. By visiting people in their homes the missionaries can identify with the people’s living conditions.

G. By speaking the language of the people the missionaries can identify with the way people think, reason and look at problems.

H. By working with the people in their farms the missionaries can identify with the occupations of the people.

I. By singing with the people the missionaries can learn the traditions, legends, and history of the people.

J. By asking questions of the people the missionaries can learn what the people know or do not know about God.

K. By greeting the chief, elders, and leaders of the area the missionaries can learn the hierarchy of authority. This will help the missionary know who has the power of decision-making.

L. By praying with people about their problems the missionaries will be identifying with their worries, concerns, and needs.

M. By giving food, clothing, or money to the people who are in desperate need, the missionaries are identifying with the emergencies of the people.

N. By sharing Jesus Christ with the people the missionaries are identifying with the people’s need to know God and to do His will.

O. By sharing some of his own problems the missionaries are showing the people that Godly men have problems too. This makes the missionary more closely identifiable so that the people see that just because they become a Christian all of their problems will not be solved immediately.

P. Eventually many people will begin to identify with the missionaries beliefs, hopes, loves, goals, and affection for the Scriptures.

Q. The missionary can identify and sympathize with the people in his struggles with the devil, the flesh, the world, the oppression of certain authorities, sickness, and family problems. Yet, the missionary can share with the people that keeping the commands of God is not a burden for whoever has been born of God has overcome the world through Christ! (I John 5:4,5)

R. Identification can be enhanced when we allow people to use some of our possessions. When a missionary loans his bicycle to a friend in the village to go the town, his level of closeness, trust, and mutual sharing increases. This helps to win acceptance of the gospel’s message.

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