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Intercultural Communication for Christian Ministry


Anticipated outcomes:

On the completion of this chapter the reader should be competent to:

· recognise the influence of various communication cultures on the way people


· describe and evaluate the impact of various media on the message and the receptor;

· summarise the strengths and weaknesses and place of the various media as a tool

for communicating God’s story;

· appreciate the value of using indigenous media wherever appropriate.


1. Reflection:

The Apostle Paul wrote (Rom. 10:17 NIV) ‘… faith comes from hearing the message’. Considering that Paul wrote in the context of an oral-aural culture did he mean more than we think as we read it from our literate culture? Walter Ong writes that sound is ‘… a special sensory key to interiority’.[1] He considers that sound is an avenue to the human spirit more so than print.

2. Compare the dominant Western monologue approach to preaching with that of

Burrakatha used in Andhra Pradesh, India.

BURRAKATHA is a method of preaching which has been tried among the Lambadi gypsies of Andhra Pradesh. Basically it involves three men, one of whom is the joker. One is dressed up, and tells a Bible story or a series of stories, while the other two interrupt by asking questions, a process which goes on for hours. This is a traditional form of entertainment among the Lambadis. The day after the drama has been performed the actors go from house to house in the village asking and answering questions about the performance. Adapted from: Trevor and Rona Locke, Tribals for Christ, 2nd. edit. (Bangalore, India, Outreach Publishing, 1992), 84.

3. Examining the Four Spiritual Laws, or Two Ways to Live. What needs to be altered in these to adapt them to a post-Christian, post-modern West? These are available on the ‘net.

4. Write a narrative of Peter’s denial at Jesus’ trail - in the first person (imagine what it was like to be Peter) for an adult audience.


Prepare an interview with the Magi after visiting Jesus at Bethlehem.

5. Contemporary Christian art as medium of the gospel

Look for a piece of contemporary visual art from your culture and outline how you could use that as a starting point to communicate the gospel.

6. Reflection:

In recent years there has been a significant emphasis on the use of various creative media in ministry such as sacred dance, clowns, drama and mime. Is it just to entertain? Are we at risk of losing the message? Would Paul have such media as these in mind in 1 Cor. 2:1-2 if he had known about them? In another place Paul writes (1 Cor. 9:22) ‘I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some’. While he did not have in mind the creative media could this be applied to the media? Or did Paul have in mind only preaching (1 Cor. 1:21, 23)? And when he writes of preaching did he have in mind what we call preaching?

7. Reflection:

If a ‘... Christian song is a sermon riding along on music’ what are we learning from contemporary Christian music?

8. Listen to the varieties of ethnic Christian music on the companion Web site.

9. View the Balinese mime presentation on the companion Web site.

What do you think the mime is about? What is the masked person’s problem? What is the symbolism of the torch being handed to the person with a mask removed? What is the meaning of having a mask removed and a black and white chequered cloth tied around the neck? Compare what you think with others. If we are not sure and not agreed on the meaning of the mime could it be possible that they are just as uncertain about our kind of non-verbal symbolic action?

If you cannot ask a Balinese person what is the meaning of the mime consider what it might mean in view of Hindu-Bali tradition. Would Western style mime ‘speak’ to these people in their religio-cultural context? Would the messages they

10. View the Balinese dance video in Intercultural Communication for Christian Ministry

CD: Performing arts in missions) and list the movements; eye, hand, face that are

not familiar dance movements from your experience.

11. Select a modern film and consider what themes presented may be used to

introduce biblical concepts. What biblical truths relate to those themes?

1. W. Ong, Orality and Consciousness (London, UK: Methuen, 1982).