Worldview “Noisy” Neighborhoods
In the North America “Leave it to Beaver” world of the 1950s, it was just assumed that all the neighbors were church-going folks who took their kids to Sunday school where they were taught Bible stories and memorized the ten commandments and the Golden Rule. While that was an unrealistic portrayal of American family life even for that time, today we might feel fortunate just to have one other Bible-believing Christian in our neighborhood.
In a previous article, the issue of “worldview noise” (gospel static) was introduced. And knowing that most of our neighborhoods are becoming worldview “noisier” every year, it is helpful to ask – “Just how dense is the worldview noise in my host culture, the neighborhood where I live and the community to which my church ministers?”
Here’s how to identify and penetrate the worldview noise of your neighborhood, in a three step process:
First – How would you describe the dominant religious worldview in your host culture?
In many, if not most, cases we now live in pluralistic communities--"mixed religious bags," so to speak. But generally one or two religious worldviews is (or are) more common than others. From the list above, can you identify the prevailing religious views in your neighborhood?
Before taking the second big step in penetrating "worldview 'noisy' neighborhoods," we need to understand what these dominant religions teach. If lots of my neighbors are immigrants from India, I need to learn about the teachings of Hinduism? If I live in a Mormon community, obviously I need to have an accurate understanding of the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints? And, etc.
Second – Where are these neighbors on the Good Soil Evangelism Scale?
If, for example, your neighbors are Hindus and you have made yourself acquainted with the basic beliefs and practices of Hinduism, you are ready to take this second step in sharing YOUR faith with them.
Knowing what you know about your neighbors, where do you think typical adults who live around you are on the above Good Soil scale when you begin explaining the gospel of Jesus Christ to them? Would they be somewhere in the lowest part (-11 through -8) of the scale? The middle range of the scale (-7 through -5)? Or, the top third of the scale (-4 through -1)? Having some understanding of their understanding of essential gospel concepts is vital to engaging them in meaningful and productive conversations about Jesus Christ and God's gift of eternal life.
Obviously, the more you know about a person - especially his or her religious beliefs - the more accurately you can assess the person's level on this scale. So keep the scale in mind as you interact with your non-Christian neighbors and other friends, continuing to develop genuine loving redemptive relationships.
In the next article in this series, we will present a simple and easy and naturally caring way to learn more about another person's faith commitments. We call the process: "peeling worldview onions."
Third – Which of the essential gospel concepts do they understand and how clearly do they understand them?
There are eight essential gospel truths that emerge out of the Bible’s BIG story, the redemptive story that unfolds from Genesis through Revelation:
- God – He is eternal and holy, the Creator of heavens and earth and all that is in them.
- Man – Mankind (humans) are creations of God, made in His image, and are responsible to Him.
- Sin – Sin is disobedience to our Creator. We are born with a nature that inclines us to sin.
- Death – The essence of death is separation. And the payment for sin is death, separation from God. If we fail to accept the payment that God has provided for our sins, we will be eternally separated from Him.
- Christ – God sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to Earth to live a perfect life and die as a sacrifice for our sins.
- Cross – On a Roman cross, Jesus took our sins in his own body and died in our place. In the moment of his death, our sins were judged and the penalty for our sins was paid. The bodily resurrection of Jesus assures us that God was pleased with the death of Jesus as our perfect sacrifice.
- Faith – If we sincerely, from the heart, place our faith (trust) in Jesus and accept the provision He offers us, we are saved from the condemning judgment that we deserve.
- Life – At the very moment we place our faith in Jesus to be our Savior, a new quality of life (spiritual life) is given us and we are granted eternal life, with the promise that we will live eternally with Him in a perfect, blissful place.
Another way of assessing where a friend, relative, or neighbor is in his or her understanding of the gospel – TRUE Biblical understanding of the gospel – is to focus on these eight gospel concepts.
For example, if you ask a person of most religious faiths - "Do you believe in God?" - the answer predictably will be, "Oh YES, I believe in God!" But, as a Bible-believing disciple of Jesus, you need to try to understand how Biblical the person's view of God is. And the same would be true of his/her understandings of other truths that are essential to a genuine faith in the God of the Bible and salvation through Jesus Christ.
On a scale of 0 (low) to 10 (high) how clearly and how completely does he or she understand each of the following gospel concepts?
It's our job, as Great Commission Christians, to make the gospel clear:
Colossians 4:3-4 (ESV)
3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.
The next article will take you one step further in this process of understanding the basic worldview beliefs and values of your relatives, friends, co-workers, and neighbors—even of strangers that you meet for the first time.
The Story of Hope is an evangelistic Bible study book, designed to assist unbelievers, even those at the bottom of the Good Soil scale, to clearly understand the gospel of Jesus Christ and to embrace Him as Savior.
Previous articles in this series:
Attend a Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship Seminar
Become equipped to share God's story of hope in a world of competing faiths and cultures. Attend a Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship seminar.
Learn more about Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship
Gaining Ground with Good Soil is a seminar-in-a book. Learn much more about the concepts in this series of articles.