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Contextualization

Many years ago, I used to be like a space man or a sea diver when I ventured into gatherings of people who were not my home church. If I was with a buddy of mine from my church, in my mind we were both in a diving bell or a module that was a bubble around our spiritual lives and practices. An exception to this is when we were on a missions trip or at an evangelistic outreach. But when we did a missions trip or an outreach it was still like we had the space suits or diving gear on while we came into contact with "the other". No one stood up and taught us this behavior, but it was modeled. That was then for me.

Now, I don't view the Christian life that way. Church, missionary, and evangelist are something we are; not something we go to or do. Jesus was who he was and did what he did seven days a week. He didn't have a "holy bubble" around him. Jesus is the model for the church, for church life, for mission, for evangelism. The religious leaders were doing it the bubble way.

Contextualization is taking the good news into and being the good news in a different culture than our own and putting it into a language that can be understood by the hearer and seer that in no way waters it down. This is probably harder than the "build it and they will come", or "invite them to church (meetings)" approach. But to me, it's more authentic and holistic. I believe that it is better for people to find Christ where they live. They already have some nurture (pastoral care, eldering, brotherly & sisterly love) where they live from those who shared Christ with them. Because of this, they have support already and stand a good chance of growing.

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