CPM counter-intuitives—“Start with creation not Christ.” Our view of God impacts our capacity to understand Son of God (Acts 17:22ff).
Many cross-cultural missionaries have taken a Western evangelistic approach to other parts of the world resulting in numerous unintended consequences. We have failed to recognize that our presentation of the gospel is highly contextualized, therefore it should not be wholesale administered to diverse contexts.
Okay, let me unpack that paragraph. If you grew up in Europe or North America you probably have a Western worldview. You likely view faith decisions as matters for individual choice. You have been schooled by your culture to demand that no other groups or individual has the right to control how you choose to express your spiritual or religious convictions. Guess what? Much of the unreached world does not share that conviction with you. You may be right, but they do not share your understanding. And you will not readily win them over to your way of thinking—and maybe you don’t have to change their mind. Maybe there is a better way to evangelize people who disagree on this issue.
Because our perspectives have been shaped by an individualized society, our most fruitful evangelistic strategies were actually developed for our context. Because we have failed to recognize this we have uncritically exported it to very different cultures and not realized why it has worked so poorly. “But it was how I came to know Jesus, surely it must be THE way others will come to know him!”
Another part of our Western culture that shaped our evangelistic strategies is our assumption that everyone here knows of God and just needs to know Jesus. While that may have been a safe assumption at some points in our history, we can no longer assume it here and we should never take it for granted in the least reached people groups of our world. How people view God directly shapes how they hear the phrase “Son of God.”
How did God reveal himself? Did he jump in with the story of Jesus?
Notice what is written in Hebrews 1:1-3—“In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.” These last days were prepared for by the past ways God revealed himself.
Most people need at least an overview knowledge of God to be ready to grasp the significance of the message that Jesus is the Son of God. When we fail to help them discover God’s character as the Creator who calls men into relationship and establishes a sacrificial system, then many of the descriptions of Jesus have no context to be deeply meaningful. DMM requires us to begin with creation, unless God miraculously accelerates the timetable. He is sovereign and can do that. We always go with him. But then our discipling will be sure to help these new believers to be grounded in God’s self revelation so they can know how to disciple disciple makers, too. While God accelerates things at times, there are other times when he does not. We start with Creation. We start where scriptures begin.