Practical. Contextualization. Some people think those words don’t belong together.
My newest book will be released in just a few weeks. It will be titled One Gospel for All Nations: A Practical Approach to Biblical Contextualization. When you write a book with that title, you’re bound to hear questions like, “So, do you have an example of what you mean?”
Yes, I do. In fact, that’s the reason for this post.
I have recently added TWO new gospel presentations to my blog. Both are contextualized specifically for an honor-shame culture.
On my Resources page above, you’ll find two gospel booklets (“tracts”).
I have both translations in both English and Chinese.
The two presentations use different approaches. In upcoming posts, I’ll try to introduce them individually. Until then, you can check out the online versions. For each presentation, you will find . . .
- A “How to Use” guide
- Two different bookmarks designed to remind people when sharing the gospel with others.
In reality, people need more than a one time 5-minute introduction in order to grasp and believe the gospel. Therefore, I’ve also made two additions to the basic presentation that will give people more flexibility in how these booklets are used.
First, I’ve included a few brief questions to spur reflection and/or discussion.
Second, I’ve included relevant biblical passages that support the ideas found in various parts of the presentation.
These booklets (or “tracts”) are not designed merely to create converts; rather, they help us make disciples.
Evangelism that Makes Disciples
There’s a reason it has taken me a while to write something like a gospel “tract.” Actually, there are multiple reasons. I haven’t wanted to write something that would be seen as simply another tract among others. If ever I would write something like a typical tract, I wanted it to be different in a meaningful way.
Accordingly, I don’t like calling The Creator King and The Promises of God “tracts.” I prefer “gospel guide” or “gospel booklet.” Here are a few principles that I wish more people would keep in mind when using and writing “tracts.”
Tracts don’t replace people.
In my view, tracts should be regarded as introductions to the gospel. They are mere guides that help people while in gospel conversations. Also, they need to remind people of key ideas after the face-to-face conversation is done.
Propositions don’t replace the story.
The gospel should present an entirely new view of the world. That is the work of the Story, not propositions.
Converts are not disciples.
If we focus on doctrinal concepts but do not share a gospel shaped view of the world, we might produce a lot of converts but we will have difficulty making disciples.
“Gospel tracts” routinely end with a “prayer of salvation.” They emphasize what we are saved from, and less what we are saved for.
“Short” does not imply simple or substantial.
I often hear people interchange “short” and “simple” as though they were synonymous. Not true. For example, a 5–10 minute story can make much more sense than 4 sentences lacking adequate context.
Likewise, our presentation can be short (and even simple) yet fail to include much in terms of substance. We may share truth yet miss the most central points of the gospel (as the biblical writers understood the gospel).
We are saved into community, not merely from a community.
We proclaim an individualistic message when we primarily talk about individuals as though they didn’t belong to various social groups. The gospel creates a kingdom community, which consists of all nations. Yet, individual focused presentations seem to give more emphasis on the fact that one is called mainly to “give up father and mother and brother . . . .”
In a future post, I plan to give a little more explanation into how these booklets are designed to work. Until then, check out the “How to Use” guides.
Let me know what you think.