Thursday, March 22, 2012

The E-Scale

the e scale

Ralph Winter was one of the best when it came to explaining the missionary task of world evangelism. One of the simple ways he helped categorize the situation was by the use of the E-Scale and P-Scale.  These graphs simply showed the cultural distances between the announcers and hearers of the gospel and what it requires of each.

I want to look specifically at the E-Scale in this post, and the P-Scale in another.

The E-Scale represents the cultural distance that Christians go, or need to go, when sharing the gospel.

E-0 Evangelism

E-0 evangelism is evangelism that takes place within the church. This is reaching out to those who already attend or participate in local church activities. Examples of this kind of evangelism in local church practice would be Sunday school evangelism, Christmas cantatas, and perhaps follow-up visitation.

There is no need for the Christian to move outside of his own culture or cultural boundary, as the one he is seeking to reach is already a part of it. It’s greatest focus is renewing wayward Christians and bringing those who participate, but haven’t yet believed to the point of a personal decision.

E-1 Evangelism

E-1 evangelism is evangelism that takes places outside of the church, but to the same culture. This is reaching out to those who do not participate in any local church activities, but otherwise have mostly similarities with respect to cultural views and practices. A good example of this in local church practice is personal evangelism.

There is very little need for the Christian to move outside of his own culture, as the one he is seeking will already fits in pretty well with the church culture. It’s greatest focus is on reaching lost family members of Christians, their co-workers, and others with whom they may already associate outside of church.

E-2 Evangelism

E-2 evangelism is cross-cultural evangelism into a similar, but different culture. This is reaching out to those who may or may not speak the same language, but certainly have different backgrounds. The best example of this in local church practice is probably church sponsored short-term mission trips.

Here there is a need for the Christian to stretch himself and become aware of his own cultures additions to biblical practices, as the one he is seeking will often find them to be hindrances to faith. It’s greatest focus is not on bringing people into the church, but rather bringing the church to a new place.

E-3 Evangelism

E-3 evangelism is cross-cultural evangelism that takes the message of Christ to cultures very different from that of the messenger. This is reaching out to those who have never heard of Jesus or who have a culturally instated resistance to Christianity. There are usually no examples of this in local church practice, except in the commissioning of career missionaries.

Here there is a need for the Christian to radically strip off his own culture from the gospel message and identify the barriers, gaps, and bridges to faith that exist in the unreached person’s culture. It’s focus is exclusively on bringing the church to a new place.

Most churches today never go beyond E-Zero evangelism.

Though I go off topic from time to time, the reason I started this blog and named it “Beyond Outreach” is for this very reason. The outreach of most churches is E-0 evangelism, with occasional forays into E-1 evangelism.

Churches need to go beyond this kind of outreach.

In a future post I will break down the P-Scale as I have done here with the E-Scale. Then, in subsequent posts I will look at the reasons churches get stuck at E-1 and delegate the rest to “the missionaries.”

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