We talked about a variety of topics, but mostly about the process of redeeming culture in a missions environment. When a missionary takes the gospel into a foreign culture, it is not just a matter of transplanting American Christianity into this foreign setting, although this is the way it has most often been done. Most often, American missionaries take our hymns, buildings, clothing, and leadership structures and tried to get foreign believers in the new culture to adopt these customs.
This results in foreign churches that are dependent upon American churches and missionaries for most of the things related to Christian life and practice. This is extremely destructive and debilitating for these new Christians and new churches.
So Tim Nichols is working to develop a way of teaching foreign churches how to “find their own way,” and even, in a sense, develop their own theology. It is exciting what he is doing, and I cannot wait to hear more.
One of the things he said near the end of our conversation was something he finds himself praying as he gets involved in church practices that he doesn’t quite agree with. This is what he prays: “Lord, I believe this is wrong. Bless it anyway.”
I like that. I think I’m going to incorporate it into my philosophy of ministry. It may even be the key idea which eventually allows me to pursue ministry within a traditional church setting.