Thursday, May 5, 2011

Excluding People from the Good News!

Ninety Percent of church evangelism methods, discipleship materials, and ministry strategy targets the highly literate. In fact, the overwhelming majority of church ministry is done in such a way that it is difficult or impossible for an oral preference learner to follow.

Look at these recent findings:

    • The National Institute for Literacy estimates that 47% of adults (more than 200,000 individuals) in the City of Detroit are functionally illiterate, referring to the inability of an individual to use reading, speaking, writing, and computational skills in everyday life situations.
    • Approximately half of these individuals have a high school diploma or GED, so this issue cannot be solely addressed by a focus on adult high-school completion.
    • A number of municipalities demonstrate illiteracy rates rivaling Detroit: Southfield at 24%, Warren at 17%, Inkster at 34%, Pontiac at 34%.

View a copy of the report in PDF format

Many churches have not addressed the need to evangelize and disciple using oral methods because they have not felt the need. There are always enough literate prospects in the area to grow a church. The result is, that a great number of people are selectively excluded from the gospel message.

To use a fishing metaphor, no one is fishing for Brim because plenty of Bass are biting their bait. The problem with this is that the church is not to be full of fishers of men in the sporting sense. The church is called to fish with nets. The call is to rescue the perishing. All of the “fish” in the water are dying and will die unless pulled out of the sea of death and given the water of life.

So many churches are not genuinely concerned with winning the lost. What they deeply desire is to reach enough people to fill up their sanctuaries and meet their annual budgets. The goal of many churches is not to preach to gospel to every creature. That may be the stated goal, but the real goal is to present the gospel to just enough to win a few each year and keep the church comfortably full. At least, that is what national evangelism and discipleship results seem to indicate.

Has your church considered orality in its ministry?

Here are some resources for learning how to evangelize and disciple others using oral methods:

Story4All – http://story4all.com Since most of today’s unreached have to, or prefer to, receive information via non-literate means, we believe it is essential that we communicate with them in a style and language that they understand. To this end we have launched the story4all podcast with a weekly show that will bring you news, interviews, discussion, reviews and links to resources that will help you discover the power of storying.

The International Orality Network – http://oralbible.com ION exists to influence the Body of Christ to make disciples of all oral learners and to radically influence the way oral preference learners are evangelized and discipled in every people group.

Simply the Story – http://www.simplythestory.org Most of the Christian discipleship, and even evangelism strategies use literate methods of communication. Importantly, the concepts we use for Simply The Story employ methods that are readily understood by oral as well as literate learners, so this very big gap is filled.

My Bible Storying Journal – http://smy2brazil.blogspot.com This is an on-line journal of some of my experiences teaching the Bible in oral form.

4 comments:

stephenmyoung2 said...

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Andrew Leon said...

Churches, in my experience, and I have a lot, at this point, don't even care about the numbers except in how they affect the money. Money is the total and only bottom line. Under educated individuals are not good sources of income for the church, so why bother to evangelise them?

Stephen M. Young II said...

The average church has so established itself organizationally and financially that God is simply not necessary to it. So entrenched is its authority and so stable are the religious habits of its members that God could withdraw Himself completely from it and it could run on for years on its own momentum. --AW Tozer

Stephen M. Young II said...

The average church has so established itself organizationally and financially that God is simply not necessary to it. So entrenched is its authority and so stable are the religious habits of its members that God could withdraw Himself completely from it and it could run on for years on its own momentum. --AW Tozer

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