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February 1, 2018

Effectively Proclaiming the Gospel to an Idolatrous Culture

By Daniel Im

In Acts 17:16-32, we read Paul’s famous preaching of the gospel to the Greeks in Athens. Paul was familiar and aware of their idolatrous culture and it grieved him. Knowing that many of them were probably resistant, and even hostile to the gospel, Paul had to strategically communicate to them. While many were reluctant to hear the Truth, there were also those who deeply longed for fulfillment and were curious about Paul’s peculiar message. With great courage, compassion, and faith, Paul stepped into their world and delivered a challenging message that ultimately brought light in the darkness, and hope to the hopeless. There’s a lot we can learn about how Paul delivered this message and why understanding our audience will greatly impact our effectiveness.

1. Know the culture and grieve over its idolatry

Paul’s method of communicating the gospel to a lost culture first begins with understanding the audience to whom we are speaking. In this training video, Trevin Wax says that evangelism doesn’t start with a heart that just seeks to persuade and win arguments, but instead it starts with a heart that is broken for lost people. In this text, Paul grieves the idolatry of the culture. He is familiar with it but grieves what he sees. If we do not try and understand the paradigm of the people we are trying to reach, how then are we going to present the gospel in a way that touches their lives personally? It is only when the good and healing truth penetrates a heart firsthand that a person will be transformed by it.

We have to study the people we minister to and to eagerly ask the Lord to reveal brokenness and sin in the culture around us. By knowing the culture and grieving its idolatry, we set the stage for captivating our audience with a message that speaks directly into their lives, shining light on their sin and deep need for Jesus.

2. Affirm the good, rebuke the bad, and proclaim the truth

Once you know the culture you are trying to reach, it is essential that you affirm what is good. It is there, on common ground, where you can begin to build a case for Christianity. It is here where people will recognize that you are not solely coming from a place of accusation or hostility but have taken the time to understand them and why they are the way they are. You can then begin to challenge what is broken and proclaim what is true. Trevin says to affirm the deep longings of the people you are trying to reach—the longings that may be misdirected and leading them to idols rather than the living God. Help them see that their longing is placed their by God and can only be fulfilled through Him.

To read the remainder of this article, and to listen to the entire video training with Trevin Wax, click here for the full video and post.

These videos are part of Plus Membership. To get full access to them, and much more, I encourage you to become a Plus Member. Click here to see all the benefits of becoming a Plus Member.

Tweetables:

  • “Evangelism doesn’t start with a heart that just seeks to persuade and win arguments, but instead, it starts with a heart that is broken for lost people.”- @TrevinWax
  • “Affirm the deep longings of the people you are trying to reach—the longings that may be misdirected and leading them to idols rather than the living God.”- @TrevinWax
  • “No matter where we preach it, or to whom we share it, in every case, we must be faithful to God and His Word.”- @TrevinWax

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Daniel Im

Daniel Im (@danielsangi) is the Founder of NewChurches.com and the Director of Church Multiplication for LifeWay Christian Resources. He is a Teaching Pastor at The Fellowship, a multisite church in Nashville. He is the author of No Silver Bullets: Five Small Shifts that will Transform Your Ministry, and co-author of Planting Missional Churches: Your Guide to Starting Churches that Multiply (2nd ed) with Ed Stetzer. He also co-hosts the New Churches Q&A Podcast, the 5 Leadership Questions Podcast, and a brand new podcast with his wife on marriage and parenting called the IMbetween Podcast. He has an M.A. in Global Leadership and has served and pastored in church plants and multisite churches ranging from 100 people to 50,000 people in Vancouver, Ottawa, Montreal, Korea, Edmonton, and Nashville. Visit Danielim.com to learn more.

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