Contextualize the Message

“For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, ‘To the unknown god.’ What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man…” -Acts 17:23-24

Contextualization is the art of being able to take a foreign concept and make it relatable to an audience. It is an effective tool for all those who wish to communicate concepts that are of importance.

As seen by the events of Acts 17, Paul was an expert at being able to contextualize the Good News for an audience of Greeks who were highly educated, yet lacked wisdom in spiritual affairs. He observed that the Greeks had an altar dedicated to an “unknown god,” with which Paul was able to translate the spiritual message of Jesus through a means that was familiar to them. As Paul, we must proclaim the Gospel to all persons in all strata of society.

From the story of Paul, we can decipher three areas which will help you be able to effectively relate the Gospel message:

First, we must understand that it is not enough to preach the Word with conviction. We must be prepared to share our beliefs clearly and reasonably. Most people do not have the same emotional connection to the Scriptures, which is why we need to know exactly what we are talking about. Read your Bible, understand it, and consider how that knowledge should impact the lives of those who seek Christ.

However, lack of knowledge is never an excuse to refrain from evangelism. We are called to grow in knowledge while sharing to the world what is happening in our lives. After all, we are witnesses of Jesus to the world (Acts 1:8)!

Second, people connect better to the Good News through experience, not history. Paul made his Gospel presentation personal, relating his own testimony with their own cultural nuances. In like manner, most people do not need to hear a long discourse of Jewish history in order to find Christ. What they do need to hear is how Jesus has changed our lives, and how that same Jesus can help their marriages, children, and spiritual destiny.

Third, we cannot be afraid of confronting culture. Paul used their own religious beliefs in order to bring the conversation to Christ. In like manner, we should not be discouraged to speak to the issues in our world, such as abortion, homosexuality, or the use of marijuana. The goal, however, is never to condemn, but rather to bring the conversation back to a saving Christ who indeed is the solution for every social and spiritual problem that ever existed! Remember, Jesus died for everyone, no matter how lost they are! That love should always be our guiding principle in evangelism.