Guest Blog: Biblical Foundations and Guidelines for Contextualization (Pt 6)
Editor’s Note: This guest blog is written by the IMB’s Regional Leader for Central Asia. It is a six part series, giving the biblical foundations and guidelines for contextualization, and making application to Christian ministry in the Muslim world. This series will appear as a chapter in the forthcoming book “Look What God is Doing in the Muslim World.”
Muslim background believers in Jesus (MBBs) should be encouraged to remain in their community as much as possible.
Muslim background believers should be encouraged to maintain their ethnic and cultural identity as much as they can without compromising their obedience to Scripture.
MBB churches should be encouraged to be indigenous in their expressions of their faith and worship, without compromising Scripture. This is particularly true in matters of style. The church should look, sound and feel local, not foreign.
New believers and churches should be pointed to the Bible, and not to the foreign expert, to answer their questions about Christian belief and Christian living.
New churches should be encouraged to apply Scripture to the issues they face in their cultural setting, and to express their faith in ways that engage their culture directly. Their teaching and their confessions of faith should respond to the specific issues they face in their culture.
New churches can utilize local cultural practices that are consistent with Scripture.
New churches should be led by local believers and not by foreigners, as much as possible.
New churches should be financed locally (in so far as they need financing at all), and not by foreign money.
New churches should take full responsibility for the Great Commission from the start.
A church can meet anywhere. Neither the presence nor the absence of a building belongs to the Biblical essence of church.
At the same time, insofar as it lies with us:
MBB churches must have a clear identity as belonging to Jesus.
MBB churches should not present themselves as being still essentially Muslim.
MBB churches should not teach or believe that Islam, its prophet or its book are of divine origin.
MBB church teaching, and church confessions of faith, should maintain as central that which is central in the teaching of the Bible. It is true that each culture and each generation raises different issues which the people of God must address from the word of God. However, there are also core doctrines in the Bible which are central to the faith in every age and every place.
MBB churches should pursue all of the elements of a Biblical church, as laid out in the Church Definition and Guidelines.
MBB churches need to be careful about the theological and spiritual baggage that local cultural and religious practices may carry. (For example, in our experience it was MBB’s who resisted namaz-like prayer practices the most, because they connoted to them a fearful, distant, works-based relationship with God.)
MBB churches need to recognize their connection with the global Body of Christ.