Communicating the Word
The world we face in mission today is vastly different from the world that I faced over 50 years ago when I came to faith and began to engage society in the 60s and into the 70s. The way people view and understand the world is incredibly different. Such a change fundamentally impacts the basic assumptions with which we engage in mission today.
Postmodernity rejects the understanding of truth as an all-encompassing reality and since there is no universal or final claim to truth. Everything is relative. There is no place for meta-narratives; that is, the use of stories that express and interpret an understanding of history and reality in universal terms. So, the over-emphasis on individualism, hedonism and indifference continually conflict with the integral meaning of the kingdom of God. It impacts not only individuals but also the world and directly challenges the way we engage in mission.
It is against this background that we are called as faithful followers of Jesus to engage in mission. Consequently, we must withstand the temptation to water-down the message of the universal significance of Jesus Christ because of a fear of being considered intolerant towards other people and their perspectives. Yet we must communicate and teach the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God wisely and in a contextually appropriate manner.
Therefore, in our missional engagement, we must be creative in the way we communicate in each new context we encounter. We must utilise symbols, images, narrative or analogies to communicate in a meaningful way in each of these contexts. We must also acknowledge that we do not simply proclaim or communicate a message but, ultimately, a person. Thus we are called to communicate both the living word, Jesus Christ and the written word in the Scriptures. Subsequently, the living word's reality must be demonstrated within the context of our faith community's. Thus, relationship is vitally important. Likewise, the written word must communicate in a contextually appropriate fashion that seeks to make Jesus real and meaningful to the people we engage.