Monday, March 03, 2008

When Gospel Meets Culture

Doug Hayes has as interesting article about the impact of the Gospel and culture at

In it he discusses English as a Second Language (ESL) ministry that was flourishing in their local migrant Mexican community. As a result, they decided to offer a bible-based course exploring Christianity in Spanish, inviting their ESL students to come and hear the gospel in their native tongue.

An interesting situation developed:" After the current ESL course was over, we told them, this new class would begin the next Wednesday night (same night as ESL to make it easy). There seemed to be a lot of genuine interest, and we were excited that a number of our ESL students told us they were planning to come.

When that first night of Spanish Alpha came, we were ready. We cooked tacos, we bought Mexican sodas, we prayed…but no one came. Later that week we made phone calls to all the people who had said they would come. We told them we missed them, they apologized, and they said they would be there next time. When the next Wednesday night came, we prayed, we made tacos, we bought pineapple soda… and the same thing happened. After repeating this dance for three weeks, we figured no one was coming and we canceled the class".

He continues the story with:

When Culture Meets Culture
  • In Mexican culture (as in many other cultures around the world), it is considered distasteful to openly refuse a person’s invitation.
When Gospel Meets Culture
  • It’s tremendously helpful to gain insight into cultural differences so that we’re not easily discouraged or confused by experiences like my Spanish class strikeout, and so we can extend grace where we might otherwise have taken offense.
Truth, Individualism, and the Shirt Off Your Back
  • The gospel transforms us into a people whose “yes” is “yes” and whose “no” is “no.” 2 Cor. 1:17),
When Christians Meet Culture
  • So here’s the point in all this: The gospel, not culture, defines who we are and how we should live.
  • The gospel says that our first allegiance is always to Christ, not to culture.

For more on gospel and culture he recommends:

_Al Mohler’s message “Discern Your Culture” from Na 2007

_John Stott’s book “Christian Mission In the Modern World”

This article was part of our series applying the gospel to daily life. See more from the series.

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