Recently there has been a question that has been heavy on my heart… What are we doing to prevent the gospel? My answer is simple, we have made the gospel more about cultural assimilation than we have about redemption.
In Namibia, Africa there is a people group known as the Herero. The Herero people are directly related to the Himba people except one big difference. Where the Himba people still live in a state of undress as they have for centuries, the Herero people have accepted a civilized dress of the early European 19th century. As Europeans began to colonize the African world they sought to Christianize the natives by teaching them their culture. Today the Herero women still wear Victorian dresses. The people still believe in the ancestor worship of their kin the Himba, but they do it “Christianly” in their 19th century gowns.
Today in any church we are faced with a choice… to convert people to our culture, or to convert them to Christ. When our desire is to convert one to our culture, we demand that they dress like we do, act like we do, sing like we do and live like we do. In this, we actually prevent them from coming to the gospel because we add hurdles for them to cross before they have entrance into the body of faith. When people are converted to Christ, they come expressing Him in their clothes, in their cultural norms, and in their cultural expression.
What’s easier? It is much easier to accept people who fit only your culture. When you begin to reach people for Christ and not culture, they will bring with them a new expression of faith in Christ. This expression will stretch church and change the church, but it will also bring new life to the church. The question for every church is, what binds us here… a cultural form of religion or Christ himself?