Paving the Way: Becoming Cultural Missionaries

Chuck Colson | BreakPoint | Thursday, September 10, 2009

Paving the Way: Becoming Cultural Missionaries

September 10, 2009

This week, we launched a major and exciting initiative: the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. Its purpose is to teach and pass on what I've learned through my 36 years as a Christian, and 33 years working in prisons and teaching worldview.

Through this project, we hope to both revitalize the American church and see the Center become a long-term resource for people coming along after me.

It's a big vision. But I see no hope for our culture if the Church is not revitalized. Culture is religion incarnate; culture shapes politics. So if we're going to change the direction of our society, the Church has to fulfill its role as the conscience of society.

Well, I can already hear you saying, "Isn't worldview just an abstract subject that tweedy professors like to talk about?" Emphatically, no! Everybody's got a worldview that determines how he lives his life. The sum total of all the worldviews in our culture determines the kind of society we have. And frankly, Christians are losing the worldview battle.

We need to teach the next generation what we believe, why we believe it, why it matters, and how it plays out in every walk of life. Worldview determines how we form our families, what is taught in schools, what laws our communities pass, what kind of music we listen to, and what we believe about art and science.

The great apologist Francis Schaeffer was right when he said that Christians must be missionaries to their own culture. Our culture speaks a different language, and thinks differently, than Christians do. And if we don't understand this, we can't communicate effectively with our non-believing neighbors.

Some people think all we must do is evangelize. But you can't evangelize without understanding the cultural context. It would be like a missionary attempting to work in a foreign country without understanding its language or customs. He'd make a fool of himself.

The early church understood this, and it developed different evangelistic approaches to Jews and Greeks. The Jews knew the Scriptures, so the apostles could begin directly with the message of Christ as the long-awaited Messiah. But the Greeks had no prior knowledge of Scripture; the apostles had to find a starting point familiar to them.

For example, while preaching on Mars Hill in Athens, Paul discusses the Greeks' altar to an unknown god. He quotes Greek poetry, and he appeals to the Athenians' own experience in order to create a common ground before presenting the Gospel.

Today we live in the midst of a great struggle between good and evil. We're not only battling radical Islam, on the one hand, we're also battling for the heart and soul of our own culture. Only a resurgence of Christian truth flooding into our society can save it from collapse.

This is the cause God has called me to—the work I will be doing through the Colson Center. I pray fervently that there will be a mighty movement of God's people learning and then teaching Christian worldview to others.

If we don't, if we sit passively in our pews, we're going to witness the world collapsing—or perhaps I should say finish collapsing—around us.

Chuck Colson's daily BreakPoint commentary airs each weekday on more than one thousand outlets with an estimated listening audience of one million people. BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends via radio, interactive media, and print.