There is a principle we find in Scripture that is often violated in our missionary methods today. Before I explain what is meant by this statement, let’s look at an example from the ministry of Jesus and cite some from Paul.
“The man from whom the demons had gone begged that he might be with Him, but Jesus sent him away, saying, “Return to your home, and declare how much God has done for you.” And he went away, proclaiming throughout the whole city how much Jesus had done for him” (Luke 8:38–39). It would have been wonderful for this man to leave his town and be with Jesus, but it was more important that he become an instant evangelist in his own city.
God has always worked through the “oikos” (household) or villages to spread the gospel. Consider Cornelius; he “had called together his relatives and close friends…While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word” (Acts 10:24, 44). After hearing Paul, “The Lord opened [Lydia’s] heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” Then she and her household (“oikos”) was baptized (16:14-15). The same was true of the jailor in 16:29-34.
Why is this so important for us to grasp? So many missionary efforts attempt to extract new believers from their families and places and relocate them in a “Christian environment” with a “Western” culture. This steals the opportunity for the new convert to influence and expand the gospel in their indigenous setting. Rick Wood (Mission Frontier, 2018 MAR/APR, page 4) points to “the danger of extracting new believers from their native culture, family, community and people to join a new artificial family of faith, thereby destroying the natural “bridge of God” for the gospel that this person could provide.” Be careful not to hinder indigenous movements of God.
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