Train Short-term Workers to Do Contextualization (Orientation Packet)

Train Short-term Workers to Do Contextualization (Orientation Packet) September 26, 2013

Do you ever have volunteer teams come to China?

East Asia emblem

I have created a contextualization packet specifically designed for short-term, cross-cultural workers. This packet can serve as an orientation guide for people less familiar with China and issues related to contextualizing the gospel.

Long-term workers can use this packet to train national partners, team members as well as short-term volunteer teams. You can click the link above or check out my resource page.

It is short enough for those who don’t want to read an entire book. Yet, it is long enough that team leaders and those with a great interest in theological matters.

The packet also contains a short bibliography for those looking for introductions to various topics.

Here is a snapshot of the table of contents. For those who have previously seen this packet, I have updated it very recently.

Contextualization Guide for Short-term Cross-Cultural Workers (TABLE OF CONTENTS)

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  • Brent

    Jackson, I found this resource very helpful. In many ways it summarizes everything you’ve been saying on your blog. In addition to all the content about honor/shame, I also appreciated many of the “Dos” and “Don’ts” like encouraging people to err on the side of boldness, talking about “Jesus” and not just “God,” and warning against complaining. I find these especially helpful for anyone doing ministry in China. The section at the end about Chinese education is also very helpful.

    I did have one question about your paragraph summary of the gospel. Is there a reason you didn’t mention the cross in particular and the concept of Jesus bearing the the wrath of God for our sin? I know you said that no gospel presentation is truly complete, but it seems that the cross and the concept of propitiation is a central aspect of the gospel.

    Also, in your “Don’ts” section, you recommend using coded language. How important do you think this really is? Perhaps this would be a good topic for a blog post. I’ve seen missionaries on both sides of the issue in China. Some think it’s very important and failure to do so puts people at a great risk of being caught. Others think that this kind of thing was only necessary 10-15 years ago, but that using this kind of Christian language no longer gets the attention of Chinese authorities. Those who say this point to Chinese Christians, pointing out that they don’t code their texts or emails but don’t get in trouble for it. Have you ever heard of missionaries not coding their communication and getting caught and sent home for it in the past few years?

    • Thanks for these very thoughtful questions. I would say this….

      1) Regarding the cross: yes, I would have preferred to state it more explicitly. However, I would highlight that the centerpiece of the gospel is the resurrection. The cross obviously is critical but we should note that every gospel presentation in Acts talks about the resurrection, but they don’t always mention the cross. This does NOT diminish the cross as essential. The point is one of emphasis. The resurrection is the victory announced by the gospel. I think I was probably just trying to make that emphasis clear when I wrote that paragraph.

      2) Regarding propitiation, etc: It is critical for salvation that God’s wrath was removed from us by virtue of the cross, however I point out that not a single explicit gospel presentation makes mention of this soteriological doctrine. I would make an analogy that could be applied to other doctrines. A father could give his child a car as a gift (grace). That is good news. How the car works and how the father purchased the car are separate topics that are essential for the good news that the father gives the car, however, these mechanics are not the good news itself. Do you see the difference? THAT Christ saves us and HOW precisely Christ saves are not necessarily the same thing.

      3) I like your suggestion about doing a post about using coded language. My simply short statement would be this: There is no reason to be unnecessarily provocative or attract attention in a hostile environment. Even Jesus and the apostles chose their words wisely according to the situation. Also, different places in China requires different levels of concern regarding security.

      • Brent

        Jackson, thank you for your thoughtful reply! I remember in one of your earlier posts about mistakes missionaries make, you mentioned under-emphasizing the resurrection. I think that is a very wise and accurate observation, and I’m thankful for your encouragement to us to make it central in our gospel presentations.

        You also make a very astute observation about the lack of propitiation talk in the gospel presentations in Acts. I will have to research that more and think about it. Your car analogy is also helpful. One reason I enjoy your blog is because of these kinds of observations you make that I don’t normally see.