Michael McKinley today posted a great quote from John Stott regarding the nature of evangelism at the 9Marks Blog.
You can read the post here: Church Matters: The 9Marks Blog.
Christians and non-Christians are often widely separated from one another by social sub-cultures and lifestyles as well as by different values, beliefs, and moral standards. Only an incarnation can span these divides, for an incarnation means entering other people’s worlds, their thought-world, and the worlds of their alienation, loneliness, and pain.
In other words, the gospel is most effective to someone when the messenger has stepped into the shoes of that person–understanding their worldview and values, and feeling pain with them. When a messenger has been first quick to listen and slow to speak, the message can truly be powerful.
If someone is different than me, whether in terms of gender, race, age, or socioeconomic status, there is automatically a distance to bridge. It is those who have taken the time to love me and respect my values and experiences who can effectively speak into my life.
I wonder if this is why many Asian Americans feel that churches are not meeting their needs. Whether churches are led by immigrants or white Americans, it seems like neither group has made enough effort to know and understand us. We all want to do church “our way,” but are we truly making sacrifices of time and resources to contextualize our messages to the people we want to reach? Do our churches make an effort to know and understand their stories, their traditions, their values, and their hurts?
The cross calls us to a much more radical and costly kind of evangelism than most churches have begun to consider, let alone experience.
If Stott is correct (and I suspect that he is), the churches that make the sacrifice of incarnation will be ones who will successfully minister to this generation of Asian Americans, no matter who their leadership is comprised of.