THE WORLD NEXT DOOR
God calls Christians to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18–20), which requires intentional communication of the gospel. The world is now next door. People from other cultures are neighbors, coworkers, and friends, giving Christians ample opportunities to contextualize and share the gospel cross-culturally this Christmas.
CONTEXTUALIZING THE MESSAGE OF THE GOSPEL
Christians can share the gospel effectively across cultures with preparation and practice. First, consider the context of the message. Do not assume your friends from a different culture understand the reason Jesus came. Start with the Creation and the Fall illustrating the goodness of creation and the brokenness of human rebellion—and then introduce Christ’s redemption.(1)
Next, when evangelizing cross-culturally, consider contextualizing how you share the gospel. The good news does not change, but you can explain how the gospel responds to the cultural yearnings of your neighbors. Traditionally, Western Christians have focused on innocence and guilt. Other cultures may emphasize honor and shame, fear and power, or cleanliness and uncleanliness.(2) Tell the gospel story by highlighting any of these major themes. Christians celebrate the birth of Jesus, who created a way for sinful, shameful, unclean, and fearful humans to come to a holy God. When we follow Jesus, He declares us innocent of guilt, restores our honor, cleanses us, and proves Himself more powerful than fears or the powers of evil.
SHARING THE CHRISTIAN SIDE OF CHRISTMAS
Christmas offers ready-made opportunities to share the gospel. Because people from other cultures often do not celebrate the Christian side of Christmas, they are often open to hearing the Christmas story. To find opportunities to share this good news, think creatively. Take a plate of Christmas goodies to your neighbors with a Christmas card detailing the Christmas story. Host a Christmas party, and articulate the reason for the holiday. Invite your friends from other cultures to decorate your Christmas tree. Include a few ornaments that can serve as launching points to gospel conversations. Invite them to join your Christmas Eve service and meal. Look for unexpected opportunities to share the Christmas story with vendors, shoppers, and other people enjoying the season.
Making disciples of all nations requires intentional communication of God’s gospel in ways people from other cultures can understand. Give context for the gospel message, proclaim it in a contextualized fashion, and look for creative opportunities to share. Celebrate Christmas by making His glad tidings known to the nations.
Anna Daub is a former member of Girls in Action and Acteens who served with the IMB. She currently works at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. Hear more from Anna about God’s heart for the nations in Episode 48 of WMU’s On the Journey Conversations podcast.
¹For an example, see Craig G. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen, The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story, 2d. ed, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2014).
²For a more in-depth introduction to guilt-innocence, shame-honor, and fear-power cultures, see Jayson Georges, The 3D Gospel: Ministry in Guilt, Shame, and Fear Cultures, (Time Press, 2017), 17–27.