Maybe one of the best books I’ve read recently was The Global Gospel: Achieving Missional Impact in Our Multicultural World by Werner Mischke. It took me a while to work through it, partly because it generating so many new questions and new thoughts.
There are many books and resources out there that call for deeper and more thoughtful contextualization of theology and ministry methodology. This is one of the few books I’ve seen really try to take a clear shot at contextualizing evangelism and discipleship for the non-western world. Half of the book is theory and theology, but the other half is comprised of concrete efforts to take that knowledge and move it to real, useful approaches to evangelism.
The heart of this book really relates to contextualization of ministry in view of the honor/shame paradigms in the Ancient Near East culture and how they are captured in the Scriptures. The author goes to great lengths to show these different (9 of them) dimensions of honor/shame as they are expressed in Scripture – from encounters that Jesus had with the Pharisees to Paul’s letters. Then he attempts to use each of those nine dimensions as a means of communicating the gospel in a relevant way to people from contexts where those honor/shame dynamics are part of the cultural landscape.
I personally felt like the book really expanded my perspectives in reading the Scriptures. So many narratives and exchanges in Scripture were taken to new levels of understanding and some I would go so far as to say that they felt like they were “unlocked” because of the significance of the cultural components. It really deepened my motivation to study Scripture because my understanding of so many passages was dramatically enriched through a better awareness of honor/shame realities.
But I also appreciated the real and genuine effort in developing connection points for people to connect meaningfully to the Gospel. I loved reading the author’s efforts at contextualized evangelism, but enjoyed just as much feeling challenged to think bigger and more creatively about how to bridge from Scripture to people in meaningful ways.
I highly recommend this for all Christians – it really can enrich your perspective on Scripture and ministry deeply. It also is a good reminder to think in terms of culture and it is a guard against ethnocentric ministry philosophy and theology.