I recently returned from Limuru, Kenya where I joined key AG workers for a Consultation on Planting Churches Among Unreached People Groups Through Teams. It was my privilege to be one of the evening speakers. As is often the case, I received far more than I gave.
The Lord affirmed our efforts and methods of work among the unreached Malinkes of Mali. I came back convinced more than ever of the need to persist in meeting unreached people groups at their point of need – not just as an entrance point into their community, but because nothing short of a holistic ministry will work. Our mandate is to bring the whole Gospel to the whole man by the whole Church to the whole world.
I also came back more convinced than ever that working among resistant people demands greater flexibility (hence my emphasis on “business unusual) and relational evangelism in which we favor “with-nessing” over traditional “witnessing” (a concept Linda and I practice, but which our friend Joel Butz put into these words in his book Bent But Not Broken). Winning resistant people to Christ must necessarily go through the process of winning them to ourselves first. We have to be credible, and that cannot happen without being very relational.
Along the same lines of thinking, I believe that most of America has become just as resistant to the Gospel as Islamic nations are. In America today, misconceptions of what Christians are and what Christianity really is, are pretty much equal to those that have blinded Muslims to the message of the Bible. We cannot go about evangelizing in America as we have done in the past. It has to be business unusual. It has to be relational evangelism – “with-nessing” rather than just witnessing. Winning our neighbor to ourselves, then to our people, before we can win them to our God.