At the Desiring God 2011 National Conference a discussion panel was hosted that addressed issues surrounding international missions. Why do we do missions exactly? How do you discern if God is calling you to it? What is the importance of gospel contextualized ministries? What is the role of the local church? These were just some of the topics talked about. The responses were really informative and practical and it’s a great starting place for those who are considering world missions for the first time. I was encouraged to hear a bit more about Michael Oh’s ministry in Nagoya and get a refresher with some of the things that initially motivated me to missions to Japan. I learned a lot of new things too.
The C-Scale (Contextualization Scale) was something that I hadn’t really heard explained so clearly before hearing this recording. Basically, it is a measure of how relevant a church or ministry is to its surrounding population and how well it communicates the full message of the gospel in that culture. There are two extremes, obscurantism at one end and syncretism at the other. Ed Stetzer explained this well saying…
“I will tell you historically the vast majority of errors have been made on the side of under-contextualization in cross-cultural mission. We have had more danger with obscurantism, which is the technical term for when we obscure the truth of the gospel from those who are trying to see it through very different eyes. But the danger is, on the other hand, if the one hand is obscurantism, the other danger is syncretism… Where we’re impacted by paganism in its multiplicity of forms, and we concoct another gospel, that’s not the gospel.”
I wish I could have heard about the C-Scale before my first time going to Japan. It would have been really helpful in thinking through how effective my ministry methods were and tailored specifically for the context I was in.
Everything discussed during the panel addressed issues of missions in a cross cultural international setting but all of it has also has really big implications for all local churches, ministries, and everyone who follows Christ.