Investment in the daily life of the community. – It’s not enough to be involved and work with people, a missionary (and anyone invested in community really) must be willing to interact on a personal level. In most cultures this is centered on mealtime, but it can play out in a variety of situations and venues. Intentional use of coffee shops, tea houses, and markets will greatly increase the opportunity to be a part of the culture and not simply an outside agent implanted in the culture.
Investment in developing relationships. – People matter. Individual relationships not only help us grow in our understanding of the world around us, they also give us insight into avenues to offer Christ as well as illuminate the gospel within us. Growing closer to people in their lives, in their businesses, and in their own spiritual experiences isn’t just an exercise in evangelism it’s a direct pattern emulating Jesus’ ministry.
Open and Honest lifestyles and interactions. – To show others what Christianity is all about we must be committed to the truth, not only when it agrees with us but also when it chastises and rebukes us. (Daniel 9:6) This life is meant to be lived outward toward God for the sake of others. To live this way our conversations and actions must be open to ridicule and in the open not hidden or separated from inspection.
Investment in adaptation and growing with others. – A missionary needs to be flexible. Political climates, cultural norms, and levels of devotion cannot be predicted; therefore reaction and adaptability can be integral to the evangelistic efforts in any region or group. Assessment of the culture requires the integration of all these separate principles. Community, relationships, openness and sacrifice play into the fluidity of any response to culture. Growing with others involves separating from the pride of “having the truth” and being willing to grow in the context of the people surrounding you. (sound familiar?) A large hindrance to progress in relationships between where people live and where revelation of Christ can bring them is our inability to grow with them. Condescension and self-righteousness is hard to find internally but easily pointed out from the outside. Being willing to simply “be” with people instead of constantly teaching or presenting is vital to integrating into the surroundings.
An embrace of humility and sacrifice. – Finally, a commitment to engage and redeem those far from God is ultimately a commitment to the cross. The Cross in this instance isn’t a symbol of hope or religion but a literal symbol of the level of sacrifice we are called to. If we share in his suffering we will also share in his comfort. (Rom. 8:17) The life of people exposing their beliefs in such a raw and dependant way invites a high level of ridicule and sacrifice. This embrace is beneficial in two ways: (1) it portrays a realistic and honest picture of the Christian life presented in the New Testament so that converts are not tempted into a Christless Gospel full of blessing and far from any obligation or the clear call of Jesus to abandon this life and embrace the life offered by God, and (2) it prepares the way for others who follow into the work of evangelism, so hopefully they won’t have to be distracted by the weight of sacrifice and can focus more on the actual work of pouring into ministry and others.