Missiology of Western Culture

We often strategize ways to impact international fields with the gospel, but Western culture is also in great need. Understanding this mission field is necessary as we seek to engage the people around us. 

“The countercultural thrust of the gospel has been eclipsed, and the church has accommodated itself to the idols that permeate the West” (Goheen, Introducing Christian Mission Today, 297).

Acts 17:16-34

The Pure Gospel

  • In our context, the biblical message is “so thoroughly adapted to fit into our modern Western culture that we are unable to hear the radical challenge, the call for radical conversion which it presents in our culture” (Lesslie Newbigin, “The Bible and Our Contemporary Mission,” Clergy Review 69, no. 1 (1984): 11).
  • The good news is about what Jesus has done – not about what we must do.
  • This gospel is so transformational that it will wholly affect someone and can affect everyone.
  • The Bible does not contain spiritual nuggets intended to isolate from its overarching message.
  • “The gospel is not a message that can be slotted into a little private religious realm of life” (Goheen, 302).
  • There is not a piece of creation that the gospel fails to address.

The Missional Church

  • “At its best, the word ‘missional’ describes not a specific activity of the church, but the very identity of the church as it takes up its role in God’s story” (Goheen, 305).
  • The Western church has watered down the missional thrust due to obsession “with its own internal affairs and institutional life” (Goheen, 306).
  • Christians must accept the conflict that the gospel will create within our culture.
  • If Christians feel too much at home within a given culture, something is off in their lifestyle.
  • The Western culture is suspect to a more subtle, yet still as dangerous, form of religious syncretism. 

The Western Field

  • “For the cross-cultural missionary, it is essential to carefully analyze culture” (Goheen, 316).
  • How would you assess the religious practices of our culture’s mission field?
  • We live in a land that believes a person’s religion shouldn’t significantly alter one’s personal life.
  • One’s religion should be seen as a framework – not a piece of one’s life.
  • Our culture’s obsession with removing the tangible reality of God is because we want to play that role.
  • “Material prosperity and the freedom to pursue and enjoy it – this is the secular paradise toward which the West is now directed” (Goheen, 324).
  • We have created false gospels to address temporal circumstances.