We often neglect the discipline of understanding an ethno-linguistic people’s perspective of the world. Some say, “it takes too much time to get to know ethno-linguistic people.” While others say, “All we need to do is share the gospel and they will respond.”
In cross-cultural settings, miscommunication often occurs. Even more so, communicating the gospel message through one’s own personal worldview lens can easily offend people for the wrong reason instead of the right reason.
Our example for understanding a diaspora people’s worldview rests in the incarnational model of Jesus Christ. The Scripture states …
Who, being in very nature of God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death — even death on a cross!(Philippians 2:6-8, NIV)
The incarnation, the Ultimate God being clothed in human form as an Intimate Savior, serves as a model for encountering ethno-linguistic people and learning their worldview perspective.
A working definition of incarnational missions is “the immersion of one’s self into a local culture and ‘becoming Jesus’ to ethno-linguistic people.”
An Approach For Ministering Among Ethno-linguistic People
Incarnational missions seeks to dispense with ministry “from a distance” and embrace ministry “up close and personal”— the love of God and the gospel of Christ are “incarnated” or embodied by the person ministering. This up close and personal approach is commonly known as acculturation.
Just as the Son of God took on human flesh and came into our world, we should encounter the ethno-linguistic people to which we are ministering and “become Jesus” within their culture.
Practicing Incarnational Ministry
A few signs of practicing an Incarnational Ministry among ethn0-linguistic people include …
- Living in Close Proximity to the Ethno-linguistic People. (This sign deals more with our attitude of welcoming ethn0-linguistic people in our lives no matter whether is planned or they just show up at your home. See #3 below.)
- Eating the Ethno-linguistic People’s food, no matter whether you want to or not. You never know you might acquire a taste for their delicacies.
- Practicing an open door policy in daily lifestyle and ministry welcoming ethno-linguistic people in your home, no matter the time be planned or they just show up at your home.
- Seeking to contextual the gospel message in such a way that it makes sense to their worldview perspective.
What other signs indicate we are living an incarnational lifestyle among ethno-linguistic people?
As you answer this question, remember that …
“Participation is not a choice. Only how we participate is a choice.”
(Take time to reflect upon other signs of how you can live an incarnational life.)