People from all cultures are created in God’s image and are in need of redemption (Genesis 11:1-9). That is the root of cultural relevance. God embraces all cultures – as envisioned in Revelation 7:9, where many nations, tribes, peoples, and languages worship before the throne and the Lamb.
Leading missiologist Paul Hiebert defines culture as “the integrated system of learned patterns of behavior, ideas, and products characteristic of a society.”1
So being culturally relevant in missions means being able to express Gospel truths in ways that transcend human barriers of race, ethnicity, gender, and social status. As Darrell Whiteman points out, the Gospel’s ability to speak within the worldview of every culture is “empirical proof of the Gospel’s authenticity.”2
When we build intercultural relationships, our understanding of God and His Kingdom grows. We experience what it means to be in another person’s shoes. Being culturally relevant enables us to share the Gospel with mutual respect and trust (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Undergirding our efforts to be culturally relevant is the Holy Spirit. He is at work in all peoples, as embodied by the Haggai vision. The Spirit knits us together and empowers us to relate as brothers and sisters created in God’s image (Ephesians 4:4-6). In Acts 10, the Spirit prompted Peter to speak to Cornelius. This challenged Peter’s assumptions and opened the door of salvation for the Gentiles.
The Haggai Leader Experience, serving leaders from locations with restricted access, can effectively reach the marginalized and the poor. In addition, many of these leaders hold seniorlevel positions. This means they can be champions of advocacy, transforming political and social systems to promote justice and righteousness. Ultimately, the reason for being culturally relevant is to effectively fulfill the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Knowing the cultural context empowers us with wisdom and authority to do so. With 20 years’ experience in financial markets, Daniel Foo is a respected Haggai faculty member and is currently senior pastor of Bethesda (Bedok-Tampines) Church in Singapore.
With 20 years’ experience in financial markets, Daniel Foo is a respected Haggai faculty member and is currently senior pastor of Bethesda (Bedok-Tampines) Church in Singapore.
1 Hiebert, Paul. Cultural Anthropology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1983.
2 Whiteman, Darrell L. “Contextualization: The Theory, the Gap, the Challenge.” International Bulletin of Missionary Research, 21 no 1 (1997): 2-7.