By Jerry Wiles, North America Regional Director, International Orality Network, President Emeritus, Living Water International, Special to ASSIST News Service
HOUSTON, TX (ANS – May 2, 2017) – One of my mentors from my college and seminary days back in the 1970s was the late Dr. Adrian Rogers, pastor of the famous Bellevue Baptist Church in Memphis, TN. Adrian was a great blessing and influence in my own life and the lives of so many others. He used to say that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is simply profound, and profoundly simple. It is amazing to consider how little children all over the world can hear the Good Story (News) of Jesus, respond in simple faith, be born again and become new creations in Christ.
Yet, many who are well educated, with advanced academic degrees can hear the Story of Jesus and not respond. Sometimes, for some people, the more education a person has, the more difficult it is for them to believe and receive the message of Jesus. Often intellectual pride can become a barrier to simple repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus.
Jesus told Nicodemus, as recorded in the Gospel of John, “Unless a person is born again, he (or she) cannot see the Kingdom of God.” Actually, many people today are trying to follow Jesus, but have never been born again. We must be born of the Spirit in order to see spiritual reality and follow Jesus. Just as a person needs physical eyesight in order to see physically, so we must have spiritual eyesight in order to see spiritual realities and the things of the Kingdom of God.
One time the disciples of Jesus were trying to keep people away from Him when they wanted Him to lay His hands on them and bless them. Jesus became very angry with His disciples and told them, “Let the little children come to me, and don’t hinder them, because the Kingdom of God is like these little children.” He went on to explain that unless a person receives the Kingdom of God like a little child, he (or she) cannot enter in.
Orality is one of those modern phenomenon that is simple, but has profound implications. The concepts, principles and practices of Orality are the most effective ways that people have learned, communicated and processed information from the beginning of time. However, in the modern Western World, now focused a great deal on print-based or written resources, there has sometimes been neglect of the Orality-based methods and practices.
One of the ways the Lord is using the Orality Movement is by helping us recover the simple and reproducible ways and that the Gospel spread throughout the entire populated world in the First Century. Another important factor is to consider how the Lord Jesus communicated, how He gave instructions and made disciples. We often ask the question, “Can we do it today the way He did it then?” The answer of course is “Yes.” It is important to recognize that the same Holy Spirit that worked through Him is now living in each of us who are born of the Spirit. He is still actively engaged in carrying out His kingdom purposes through the Body of Christ today.
While simply asking questions and telling stories are core components in the Orality Movement, there are many other aspects. Now, since the formation of the International Society for Orality Missiology, and more engagement with the academic community, there is greater recognition of the depth and breadth of the Orality domain. As more educators, scholars and academic institutions become involved in the movement, we recognize the importance of focusing on two primary considerations: (1) Communicating the Good News of Jesus, and (2) Making Disciples. However, doing both of these in ways that are international, cross-cultural and reproducible to all people and every people group is essential. In other words, crossing all barriers, such as age, gender, ethnic and language groups is also important.
Being biblically-based, culturally appropriate and reproducible are top priorities in relation to the Great Commission and the Great Commandment. Sometimes when we hear about cross-cultural and multi-ethnic issues, we may think of some faraway place. However, most of us encounter people on a regular basis who are from different cultural backgrounds and various worldviews. The good news is, if we maintain biblical, simple and understandable terms and methods, we can overcome many of the barriers that may exist in sharing the Gospel and making disciples. The Holy Spirit is faithful to give insight and discernment in how to overcome barriers, build bridges and cultivate relationships that open the hearts of people to the love and truth of Jesus.
An important aspect and application within the Orality Movement is addressing issues such as Honor and Shane dynamics. In fact, a conference is scheduled for June 19-21, 2017 at Wheaton College. Its theme is “Honor, Shame and the Gospel: Reframing our message for 21st Century Ministry.” More details are available at https://honorshame-conference.com.
For more information on the Orality Movement and the upcoming North America Regional Conference of the International Orality Network, September 11-13, 2017 in Colorado Springs, visit www.orality.net.
Photo captions: 1) Dr. Adrian Rogers. 2) Power of Disciple-Making Teams. 3) The Joy of Learning in Community. 4) Jerry Wiles.
About the writer: Jerry Wiles is North America Regional Director of the International Orality Network, and President Emeritus of Living Water International. He can be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com.
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