Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Contextualization or Marketing?

Some people mistaknely believe that contextualization means changing aspects of Christianity to make it look like the culture, but contextualization is simply the process of making the gospel understood.  To ensure that our hearers understand the gospel, we must use their language rather than our own, if ours is nonsense to them.  However, this does not mean that mimicking the profane vocabulary or lifestyles of the unchurched is an appropriate use of contextualization.  The only reason to communicate in this way would be if the local culture communicated so much in this manner that no message would make sense otherwise.  Television programs without such inapproprate language would require subtitles for them so people could understand the message.  Of course, there is no culture where this is the case.  In fact, much of what many call contextualization is simply an effort to be trendy and edgy.  It may be effective, it may even attract a hearing among a certain demographic, and it may not be offensive to all hearers, but that is not contextualizing the gospel; that it marketing.

David Sills
Reaching and Teaching
Page 195

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