Contextualizing the gospel

    This study examines the process of taking gospel truth and presenting it in a relevant way to the hearer. This process is called contextualization. It requires an accurate understanding of the gospel and of the culture of the hearer. The gospel message is then contextualized, made relevant to the culture of the person who hears. In the case of this study the culture is Australian.
The Australian culture
    It has been suggested that we Australians have no peculiar culture of our own. We are a mixture of American and English. Nothing could be further from the truth. Our language and life-style show a definite Australian culture. We are individuals. We are the "Pav" and "Lamo" brigade.
    By the 1820's observers started to notice a rather strange development in Australia. The native born were different to their convict and free-settler parents. "They were tall and slender, with small features able to undergo more fatigue than people born in Europe, active but awkward in movement, quick tempered, but not vindictive, and had developed a distinctive pronunciation", Manning Clark. "Our Currency lads and lasses are a fine interesting race, and do honour to the country whence they originated", Cunningham 1827.
    They were the first Aussies. It was their country, a country that would be free from the evils of the old world - dead tradition and false morality. A country where the native born could live together and equally share this great land. Their independence was certainly not appreciated by the authorities who saw them as an immoral lot, a possible threat to the administration of the colonies. They certainly did enjoy the pastimes of gambling, horse racing and drinking, but in their own way were extremely moral. They were deeply loyal and despised anyone who "did another bloke in". Actually they had little time for convicts whom they classed as rather degenerate. They seldom married convicts.
    Criticism of their life-style tended to produce a fine mixture of sardonic humor and bragging. They were soon to develop a downright hatred for authority. They tended to be trail-blazers, clearing a small plot of land around a slab hut and struggling to feed themselves from the harsh Australian bushland, while back in Sydney the authorities were busy giving their land away to some retired soldier or other. Many a family was dragged screaming from their home by the military or the police and left destitute.
    Have you ever wondered why Ned Kelly is such a hero to Australians? Some say he's a Robin Hood type, but he was far from that. He was a larrikin as well as a battler, "done in by the cops." Our national psyche has been so affected by our heritage that when in 1876 the Princess theatre in Melbourne staged the show "The Vultures of the Wombat Rangers", depicting the police (the goodies) exterminating the Kelly gang (the badies), the audience cheered the Kelly gang and booed the police. The Victorian Government was so shaken that they passed the Felons Apprehension Act permitting any civilian to shoot members of the gang on sight. Of course that only reinforced the belief "it's them against us."
    So evolved the Australian Myth. It is a myth in the sense that we perceive a national character that is peculiarly Australian of which we are part, but which may not be necessarily true for us. ie. Australians are larrikins (males), we see ourselves like that (ie. we identify with larrikins), but we may not ourselves be a larrikin.
    The imposition of political correctness during the 1980's and 90's by the trendy socialist left intelligentsia has caused a slight cultural cringe, even a quiet acceptance of the notion that there is no Australian culture. In its place tribalism is promoted with aboriginal culture at the forefront. "Racist" name-calling has destroyed most attempts at community debate on the issue of culture. This is because Australians are not very racist and therefore, offended by the accusation, tend to keep quiet. The peaceful integration of mass migration since the Second World War evidences the tolerance exhibited by the host Australian community. With the weakening hold on the Australian social agenda by the socialist left, the reemergence of an Australian identity, empowered by the influence of new first generation Australians (particularly Italians and Greeks), should again dispense with the stupid notion that Australia has no unique culture worth affirming and preserving.
The Australian myth
    There are a number of characteristics which are seen as particularly Australian.
1. Larrikinism, dislike of authority, cynicism
    An Australian is a stirer. When overseas, Australians tend to emphasize this quality to the extreme. In its extreme form it is ocker, and usually quite ugly. The Barry McKenzie character was an expose of the ugly Australian. Mind you, even though ugly, we do love it and laugh at it.
    Americans tend to be very loyal and patriotic. They see their political leaders as saviour figures, and quickly replace them when they don't live up to the "Superman" image. When Superman says he stands for "truth, justice and the American way", Americans cheer and Australians laugh. Cynics to the end. The same response emerged at the screening of "Independence Day".
    Australians have great problems with authority figures and tend to want to take them down - the "tall poppy" syndrome. If you're a battler you're O.K. If you've made it you're a bludger.
2. Independence
    The ability to stand on our own two feet. Although we see ourselves as independent, we are far from it. We tend to want Government to do everything for us and when anything goes wrong we quickly blame "them". As a result we are over governed and over taxed, even at times close to a police state. Americans are much more independent. None-the-less the myth promotes the image of independence and we do believe in it strongly. The origins of this submission to authority while reacting to it negatively, goes back to our convict past. Authority cringe most likely promotes a strong sense of independence, while constantly blaming government for everything and anything.
3. Never-give-in, perseverance
    A very strong tradition in Australia, taking its strength from the harshness of the Australian bush and the need for this essential quality for survival.
4. Mateship, loyalty, integrity of relationships
    Acceptance in a peer group is an essential part of the Australian character. The need to stick together in the bush against the harsh land and corrupt authority seems to have welded this quality into the Australian psyche. It is probably the most important characteristic of the myth. It has always marked Australians out. During the American gold rush era, groups of Australians joined in working the fields. Unlike the Americans who worked in ones or two's, the Australians worked in teams of around 15 men and displayed great loyalty. On the other hand they caused no end of trouble for the authorities, hence the evolution of the term in the U.S. "Kangaroo Court".
5. Fairness
    You should never do another bloke in. On the Australian goldfields, to steal another man's shovel was the lowest of acts and resulted in ejection from the field. You could set fire to another man's dunny, as that was just good fun (or blow it up if your were Gelignite Jack Murry).
6. Down to earth
    "High felutin' airs" or "putting on the dog" is out. Keep it simple and straight forward. It is interesting to compare Americans and Australians in the political arena. Americans tend to be impressed by presentation, Australians by content. Is this changing? We may certainly argue that it is changing in the suburbs. At the practical level this element of our psyche shows itself in conservatism.
7. Battler
    A strong identification with the "underdog" and a dislike of the "tall poppy".
    The celebration of the Australian myth is probably crystallized in Anzac Day. As a young man my grandfather told me of the exploits of the Diggers in the First World War and from then on Anzac Day has held a strange significance for me. Even today the march can bring tears to my eyes. In a sense, it says more than just the purifying of the myth under fire. It is the heroic sacrifice of those who are true to the myth. On a far flung shore we were "done in" again. The corrupt power of authority, of government, or big business, will always overwhelm the individual. The Currency Lad can only face the inevitable as Christ did. This is why the RSL remembrance service images the sacrifice of Christ with those "who grow not old". And so in the myth we see our first clue to the business of contextualizing the gospel.
Less myth and more reality
    The real quality of the Australian character is a hidden quality which surfaces in great splendor at Christmas. It is the family. It is not part of the myth, but more the reality of the Australian psyche. The love and affection of the brave, bronzed, Aussie bushman for his wife and kids gets little mention in the ballads and stories of Australia. Yet Australians are strongly family orientated. The Aussie male is supposed to spend most of his life in the pub or club. Probably only 5% do. The rest are home with mum and the kids. The outward showing of affection is an interesting problem for Australians. Somehow men see it as feminine and therefore an affront to their Aussie image. Also, the dominant role of the wife in the family is probably another affront to the myth. So the family quietly functions in the background, but is very much part of the Australian makeup. Note how C.J. Dennis plays with the idea in "The Sentimental Bloke". "Livin and lovin", that's what it's all about.
The Christian faith in Australia
    There have been no great revivals in Australia. A small one at the turn of the century on the South coast of New South Wales, and that's about it. The Christian church has survived as a minority association touching a smaller group of Australians year by year. Protestant churches tend to reach only the middle class, but with less effectiveness with the passing of time. The Roman church serves a more realistic cross section of society, but it also is loosing touch with its people. The church's association with the established order gave it power and property, but today it has little place or power in the ordering of Australian life.
    Yet Australians are not an irreligious people. 75% claim to believe in God and about 65% say they believe in Jesus. Australians are not a godless people, although probably few are disciples of Christ. It is just that they see the church and it's message as irrelevant to their lives. Australians are concerned about the spiritual dimension. Religion is always a topic of discussion along with the unexplained mysteries of the universe - psychic phenomena, etc. It is wrong to assume that Australians are blind materialists. In fact more and more of us are abandoning the rat race in search of a more meaningful life.
    The religious sensibilities of Australians can be observed in two questions that are constantly asked. Both questions demonstrate that Australians are anything but irreligious.
i] Why does God allow such cruelty to exist in his world?
    Why doesn't he clean up the mess? The problem of sin is a real problem for Australians, and of course is only a problem for someone who thinks that God may exist. If there is no God there is no problem. The question derives from the harshness of our country and the numerous times our friends have been "done in" by it. The men who had to go through the horrors of trench warfare certainly asked the question. They concluded that a loving God could not stand by and allow such violence. We would expect the wholesale rejection of the existence of God to result, but as the boys said, "there were no atheists in the trenches". They just punished God, shook their fist at him, and rejected his church. The majority were not like Braker Merrant who claimed to be a pagan, someone who doesn't believe there is a loving God dispensing justice to the world.
ii] Where is God? Why can't I experience God?
    This too is a real problem for Australians. We are a down-to-earth people and can't handle sophisticated philosophical arguments about God. If he's there I want to be able to check him out, know him personally, be his mate. As Crocodile Dundee put it, "me and God are mates". The seeming disregard of a distant God is a problem for Australians. Of course, again it is only a problem for a theist, a person who thinks there is a God.
    It is these two questions, along with the wowser image of the church, which makes it hard for Australians to hear the gospel.
The failure of the church
1. The organization
    i] The authority of the church. From the early convict days the church was used by the government to control the morals of the convicts. Marsden preached on Sundays and whipped on Mondays. This was more government policy than anything else, but the church went along with it. So being an established church, that is, linked to the governing powers, was a fairly big disadvantage.
    None-the-less, the church's attitude toward the larrikinism of the locals didn't help. The Church of England in Australia was very puritanical (a "Low Church attitude"). Although a product of the Evangelical revival, it retained much of the puritanism of the English church. This tended to promote a "begin in faith, go on by obedience" mentality. Pharisaism was the end result. Unable to deal with the problem of indwelling sin within, the pharisee finds relief in exposing the evil in others. The church was seen as a fun spoiler, imposing its will upon society. To this day we are seen as wowsers and hypocrites. The normal Aussie reads well our hypocrisy. He knows why we march in Kings Cross against prostitution. Sadly we still tend toward pharisaism, getting into digging specks out of the eyes of others, but forgetting about the log in our own eye.
    ii] The un-Australian nature of the church. The organization has tended toward expressing the faith of another age and of another place. The Church of England was still using the 1662 prayer book into the 1960's. English forms are not necessarily un-Australian, although they can easily be shaped that way. Liturgy has been adapted to all cultures since the first century. The selection of language, images and music must be that of the adopted culture, not the culture of a different place and a different time. An Australian Prayer Book is an attempt at an Australian liturgy. The use of the Union Jack in church, Harvest Festivals and the like, can all transport us out of our Australian culture. The Uniting Church, although Methodist in its roots, has done the best job of taking English liturgy (often Anglican) and contextualizing it to the Australian scene.
    The most un-Australian worship style is the American revivalist form. Most Australians cringe when they see a Pentecostal service in full swing. That type of service only attracts a small segment of society and those it attracts often soon recognize the unreality of the worship. Sadly the trend in Anglican churches today is to abandon our liturgical heritage, one easily adjusted to the Australian ethos, and adopt an unrelated American worship style.
2. The message
    Only in recent times has there been any attempt to present the gospel in an Australian way. The greatest influence on Australian evangelism has been the American revivalist missions. In our age, Billy Graham has made the greatest impact upon the Australian society. This was particularly so in the late 50's through the 60's. In that era we were infatuated with American culture. We had an affair with Uncle Same, but it was short lived.
    Although we now produce some Australian evangelistic material, the church still tends toward American evangelistic programmes and materials. For the church the affair still goes on. Worse, we regurgitate the gospel in a shape mostly repugnant to the Australian psyche. It may well work in the Southern States of the U.S.A., but it says little to an Aussie.
    The message we proclaim tends to focus on a number of facts which are not actually central to the gospel message, and which tend to offend Australian hearers:
    i] "You're a sinner". It's true that "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God", Rom.3:23. Yet Paul wrote these words to believers who thought that their faithful life in Christ established their standing, approval and advancement in his sight. These words are for Pharisees. Note how Jesus speaks to the Pharisees in his day, Matt.23. Observe how he speaks with a sinner like the woman taken with adultery, Jn.8:1-11. John the Baptist may rightly say "you brood of vipers", but he says it in the context of "do not think you can say to yourselves, 'we have Abraham as our father'". These are words for church people, not for outsiders.
    The Evangelical revival has its roots in the preaching of John Wesley. His message focused on freedom from sin, and thus needed to establish the sinfulness of the hearer. The book of Romans was used as the formula for the gospel message, and so 1:18-3:20 was understood to define the sinfulness of both Jew and Gentile. These chapters were interpreted as if they were a description of unregenerate sinfulness. Yet what Paul is trying to establish is the sinfulness of the righteous, of those who claim standing in the sight of God on the basis of their own religious behaviour. The particular group he focused on was the "weak" (cf. ch. 14 and 15). The "weak are the legalists, pharisees, Judaizers. The "weak" are faithful Christians who believe they progress in the Christian life through their obedience. Yet says Paul, "none are righteous, no not one."
    No person likes to be told they are evil. Back in the eighteenth century English people, socialized into the Christian faith, may well access the gospel through an emphasis on human sinfulness. Yet Australians don't like to be told they are sinners, especially by "holier than thou hypocrites". The harshness of this dry land, the belief that we are always defeated, says we are abandoned by God. We believe we are an unworthy and lost people, deserving only punishment. We can handle a person like Jesus telling us we are sinners, because he identifies with our lostness and suffered as we suffer, but we don't like "churchies" pointing the finger.
    ii] "All your troubles will be washed away". This idea has come through the holiness (Pentecostal) movement. It works on the belief that God has everything in his hand and that he will bless his people with health, wealth, and happiness when they are faithful to him. This "success" gospel takes on different forms. In its sanitized form it is the Peel/Schuller "positive thinking", all things are possible, gospel. In our age this message has become an institution, absorbed into marketing and management practice. In Australia it works well at business men's luncheons. In its crudest forms it will miraculously give you a new set of gold fillings if you have faith.
    Australians, cynics to the end, are not impressed with such a gospel. The Australian underdog mentality has moved us toward a socialist ethic. Today we are probably more socialist (egalitarian) than most Europeans. A good socialist knows that religion is the opiate of the people. Religion is used by the ruling class to enslave the masses in this life with the promise of blessing to come - heaven on earth, or "pie in the sky when you die". So we are suspicious of a "good times" gospel.
    iii] "Jesus is Lord and you must submit to him". It is true that Jesus "is before all things and in him all things hold together", and that "he is the head of the body, the church", Col.1:17-18. This then is a true theological statement, but is it the whole gospel or even an important element of it? Christ's ascension and heavenly rule authorizes his offer of eternal life. Christ is well able to make the offer because of his status in heaven. His offer of life is a gift of grace, and if we accept that gift we will find ourselves carrying a load that is "light indeed". Australians do not like the authority line. It is harsh and demanding, and we react against it strongly. The Lordship of Christ guarantees blessing rather than demands submission.
    The above statements are true, and in the right context do represent aspects of the gospel. Yet they don't easily touch Australians. The gospel must be presented in a way that is relevant for Australians. If a person is going to reject the gospel, it should be because they are rejecting Jesus not a lousy presentation.
Answers to the religious concerns bothering Australians
1. The problem of evil
    The gaunt trees, a blood red land, sacrifice, done to death. Why does God let this happen to us without even a "sorry mate"?
    The classic answer to the problem of evil is as follows:
    God has created us in his image. One of the aspects of our "godliness" is that we have freedom - that is, we can make choices. We have chosen to turn our back on God. We have chosen to be independent form him. In so doing we have become slaves to ourselves and our environment. Freedom has gone haywire. Humanity uses freedom to pursue selfish ends, at times with great cruelty. Even nature itself is caught up in the mess. Pollution, famine... most always the direct result of human selfishness.
    God could step in and stop the madness, but then he would have to suppress our freedom, he would have to make us nice considerate and kind robots, but then we wouldn't be human. God could step in a bit. Deflect the bullet, change the rules, remove the consequences of irresponsibility. Bullets would then travel in straight lines except when aimed at humans. But then if we want to be truly human, godlike, we must expect to face the consequences of our actions. If we want to be truly free then we must share the responsibility for our behaviour.
    Of course, God has not ignored our plight. He has already reached out to us in Jesus. In Christ, God has already begun to overturn the human state of loss. The day will soon come when even nature itself will be restored. When Jesus comes a second time to this earth he will completely fix up the mess. Pity help the mess-makers on that day. Pity help us if we are the mess-makers.
    This answer to the problem of evil at least satisfies at the intellectual level. Yet we do need to understand that it has not addressed the issue of the origin of evil. The substance of the problem of evil usually stems from the more complex problem of origin, and we simply have to admit that we have no answer to that problem. C.S. Lewis has written on the subject, but even then his words are mere human speculation.
    Consider the following planned answer using a verse from a poem by Richard Magoffin. The lostness of our state need not be the end of the gospel. Through identification with Christ the gospel comes alive and the problem of evil, particularly for Australians, becomes a powerful peg upon which to hang the gospel.
    There lies a mystery. Life always does us in:
    "As the last hours run of the fourteenth drought,
    Of another year lost and another year out-
    I am looking forward to the fifteenth year,
    And I'll welcome the cry of the auctioneer!"

    I don't understand it all. Yet I know this, Jesus' blood has mingled with mine. His tears have touched the red earth as mine have. He was broken as I am. He cried, 'my God, my God, why have you forsaken me'. And yet on the third day he rose again. Out of darkness comes the chill light of dawn. Hope for the hopeless.
2. The problem of an absentee God
    If God exists where is he?
    In a land where you can only survive with a mate, where is the ultimate mate? A mate who doesn't stand with you is a mongrel. If God's not a mongrel, then maybe he doesn't exist, and that's a lousy thought.
    This issue bothers Australians, and yet interestingly we are today tending to present the gospel in terms of relationships. We tell people that if they reach out to Jesus they will come to know him as their personal friend, their mate for eternity. The reality of the Kingdom of God is expressed in knowing God for eternity. We even present the gospel to children in the terms of having Jesus as their friend. We do this forgetting that Australians are disturbed by their experience of an absentee God.
    The problem is only addressed when we spell out what it means to have Jesus as our personal friend. A Father Christmas type God dispensing favours here and there is really not a very impressive image of God. He is bigger than that and his friendship more substantial. Refer to the notes "Mystical Union" to define in detail what it means to be friends with God.
    Consider the following planned answer.
    God is close to each and everyone of us. We sense his presence in the movement of the trees, in the swirling dust of the plain, in the love of a woman. Yet we ignore his gentle touch. We cover it with the noise of busyness. "Let us herd into the cities, let us crush, and crowd and push", until we can't hear his voice any more. Then the silence is deafening.
    Yet if we reach out to him, he is not far from any of us. I have known no better mate than Jesus. He has kept every promise he has made to me. He has stood with me through troubled times. At times he has had to straighten me out, like a good mate. He has never stopped telling me about himself, in fact about everything. I just feel special with him - accepted, at peace, just the way any good friendship should be.

Toward contextualizing the gospel
    In explaining the gospel to a normal Aussie we need to shape the gospel in line with the following factors:
    i] We may need to give some background information:
        a) Who God is. We should make the point that he is a relating God, a God who desires to be our friend.
        b) Why the world is in a mess. Human freedom should be our emphasis. Note how Paul establishes the person of God, and our wrong dealings with God, in his sermon at the Areopagus in Athens, Act.17:22-31.
    ii] Jewish ideas of fulfilled prophecy should be removed. In particular, the crucifixion of Jesus presented in the terms of a sacrifice for sin, the lamb of God, suffering servant. Jews, waiting for the dawning of the Kingdom, can understand such imagery. Gentiles have little understanding of it. For Gentiles, the meaning of the cross relates specifically to the Christian life, rather than conversion. So with Gentile unbelievers we need to focus more on the resurrection of Jesus, on the empty tomb rather than on Calvary. Note again the Areopagus sermon. There is no mention of Jesus' crucifixion or the fulfillment of prophecy, but rather only a mention of Jesus' resurrection as a sign of the end of the age and of judgement.
    iii] Biblical concepts should be communicated in words which a normal Australian can understand. We usually need to keep the vocabulary down to grade 6 - the Good News Bible standard.
    iv] The focus of the gospel needs to be on the person of Jesus - who he is, what he has done and what he is offering. The emphasis needs to be upon the new relationship with God that is possible through Christ.
    v] There will be an accounting. Paul in the Areopagus sermon certainly hit the negative aspect of the coming Kingdom by speaking of the end of the age and of judgement. We need not be afraid to mention, even in passing, that to ignore so great a salvation is to face an eternal loss.
    vi] We need to be clear about the expected response. Unbelievers do not understand worlds like "repent", "believe", "faith",... We must call for an understandable response.
A contextualized gospel outline
    Depending on the person we are talking to, we will most likely need to establish the existence of God, defining his person and work and our present relationship with him. We may touch on the following:
    i] Define the being of God.
        An all powerful, infinite God
        A moral, righteous, just God
        A personal, intimate, loving God
    ii] Define the work of God. Creator, controller, sustainer, etc.
    iii] Define the nature of mankind, particularly our fall from grace.
    It is sometimes helpful to bypass this Introduction to the gospel and go straight to the heart of the message. It certainly saves us having to deal with apologetic questions such as "how do you know God exists?" By the way, the best answer to that question is "I don't really know. I'm just putting my money on Jesus. He seems a good bet. .
i] The time is fulfilled
    Talk about your mate Jesus. You will notice how the early Christians preached the gospel by centering on the person of Jesus. They "preached Christ". The gospels themselves are a presentation of the person and work of Jesus. it's as if the writers are saying, "here he is, what do you think about him?" To Jews they concentrated on the ways he fulfilled Old Testament prophecy to establish his messianic credentials.
    When we describe Jesus to Australians we should emphasize the characteristics which are Australian. Examine the Australian characteristics covered in the opening section of this study and see how easy it is to describe Jesus in these terms, eg. Larrikin, Lk.2:41-52, Matt.23; Independence, Mk.2:23-3:6; Never give in, Jn.11:7-10.

        The temptation, of course, is to go into the detailed theological reasons for Jesus' death. Romans 1-8 is commonly used as a formula for the gospel, but these chapters deal with the doctrine of justification by grace through faith as it relates to the Christian walk of the "weak" and the "strong". Romans is not a gospel tract. When speaking of Jesus, the focus should be his resurrection, with the implication that because Jesus lives we can live also. If he has broken the bonds of death then he is worth following. As for his death it is best to paint it in terms of being taking by wicked men and done-in. Even one of his mates turned on him, but you can't keep a good man down......
ii] The Kingdom of God is at hand
    We now come to the core of the gospel. Our risen Lord has ascended into heaven and now rules in glory. He is even now gathering a people to be with him for eternity, and when complete he will return to wind up this age. The whole purpose of God's creation was to gather a people to himself. Following the fall he set about the restoration of his new community. In Jesus that hope finds fulfillment. Right now, through Jesus the risen Lord, we may experience a restored relationship with our Creator. Jesus promised his friends that he would be with them always, even to the end of the age.
    Of course, these are not the words we would use, but they are the ideas we need to communicate. We must explain to the hearer the consequences of Jesus life, death, resurrection, ascension and heavenly rule. There are many consequences, many Kingdom blessings, but the focus should be on the new relationship with God that is now possible in Jesus. We have explained what Jesus is like, now we want the hearer to know what Jesus promises to those who reach out to him. He wants to be our mate, and there has never been a more loyal mate (nor better carpenter!).
    If we have focused on friendship with Jesus we will need to explain the substance of that friendship. It's obvious that a relationship with Jesus will in some ways be similar to a normal human relationship, but in other ways dissimilar. God is spirit so the normal feel, see and hear does not apply. Yet like a normal relationship it has a starting point, it will go through growth (deepening), and it can be broken if we choose. We can experience the relationship objectively. Jesus, like a good friend, keeps his promises. He teaches, renews, empowers, builds us up, reveals himself to us. Like a good friend he cares for us. He loves. Time and again we see his wonder-working hand about us. Like a good friend he disciplines. He shakes us into line. Only a good friend would do that. We can experience the relationship subjectively. Hope, joy, peace, acceptance, forgiveness, love...... all an inward sense of Jesus' warmth toward us.
    Although a new friendship with God is the core of the Kingdom of God, both in the present moment (now) and in the age to come (not yet), there are other related blessings of membership in the Kingdom. These blessings are easily developed:
    1. A new friendship with God. As above.
    2. A new life-style. Jesus works on us. His indwelling compelling love moves us to be the person we already are in him.
    3. A new freedom from guilt, self and fear.
    4. A new community to be part of. The fellowship of the church community.
    5. A new world to look forward to. Eternity.
    As mentioned above, it is appropriate to give a timely warning. Something like, "if you don't get to know Jesus now you will never know him."
iii] Repent and believe
    The next step is to explain what Jesus expects.
        Turn ("repent"). Turn to Jesus
        Trust ("believe", "have faith in"). Rest on Jesus. Put your money on Jesus. Stick your neck out for Jesus....
        Ask. It's just that simple. "If you want Jesus as your friend forever, simply ask. He never says no."
    The above outline provides some pointers for contextualizing the gospel, that is, taking the Biblical message concerning God's coming Kingdom and relating it in a way that will be clearly understood by present day Australians. Our responsibility is but to communicate the message, present it in an understandable form, at a place and time where people are likely to hear it. God does the rest, for "the gospel is the power of God unto salvation."
    The purpose of this study is to guide relevant gospel communication. Within your group determine a gospel structure with a set of given main points, and practice a presentation that fits with your culture. Critique your work.

Index of studies. Resource file.
[Pumpkin Cottage]
Pumpkin Cottage Ministry Resources
Lectionary Bible Studies and Sermons