12/16/2010

Paul's Indigenization Policy (Acts 14:22,23)

In John Stott's excellent commentary on Acts, Stott identifies 3 foundations of Paul's indigenization policy (indigenous means originating where it is found), gleamed from his 1st missionary journey where Paul planted multiple churches in Galatia (Acts 12:25-14:28). They are:

  1. Bible Study - Apostolic instruction (Acts 14:22). Paul exhorted the church members by "encouraging them to remain true to the faith" (Acts 14:22), "the faith" being a cluster of central beliefs regarding the gospel; the Bible's storyline of Creation, Fall, Redemption, Restoration; doctrines regarding God, Man, Christ, our Response through repentance and faith, etc.
  2. Entrusting to Man - Pastoral oversight (Acts 14:23). Paul and Barnabas also "appointed elders for them in each church" (Acts 14:23). This appointment was both local and pleural -- the elders were chosen locally, not imposed from without, and it was pleural, indicating a pastoral team, not one pastor, one church. This arrangement was made from the 1st missionary journey onwards, and became universal. Paul later spelled out the qualification for elders in 1 Tim 3 and Titus 1.
  3. Trusting God - Divine faithfulness (Acts 14:23). Indigenous principles rest ultimately on the conviction that the church belongs to God with Christ as the Head of the Church, and that God can be trusted to look after his own people. So, before leaving the Galatian churches, Paul and Barnabas "committed them to the Lord, in whom they had put their trust" (Acts 14:23).
Joe Schafer wrote a blog post that (I think) "supports" Paul's ingigenization policy: http://www.ubfriends.org/2010/12/evangelism-and-the-gift-of-missionary-part-1/ The post is about Peter Wagner's book: The Acts of the Holy Spirit, where Wagner describes 3 kinds of evangelism: E1, E2, E3.
  • E-1 evangelism is monocultural. One shares his faith within his own people group. No significant barriers of language or culture are crossed.
  • E-2 evangelism crosses mild cultural barriers. An example would be a Caucasian American preaching the gospel in Australia.
  • E-3 evangelism means carrying the gospel to a radically different culture.
Not surprisingly, the most effective and efficient evangelism through out church history is E1, which is Paul's policy (Acts 14:22,23). May God bless us to pray for indigenous leaders to autonomously evangelize their own people.

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