By Karen L. Willoughby
OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (BP) – People view everything they see and hear through their cultural worldview, through the understanding they have acquired from living the life they have lived. While similarities exist in people born within a 10-year period in the same geographic area and same economic level, each individual’s perspective on life is forged by what they personally have gone through.
Jay Jackson talked about this at The Gathering for Spiritual Awakening, which took place at Southern Hills Baptist Church March 2-4 for Native Peoples from across North America. The title of his two-hour keynote address: “On becoming agents of redemption in a cross-cultural context.”
It was a talk relevant to people from any cultural background, which resonated with Christian Native Americans desiring to reach their family, friends and neighbors with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“My ability to communicate effectively is entirely dependent on my understanding of the person I’m talking with,” Jackson said. “We take for granted when we share the gospel that the hearer shares our understanding of the nature and character of God … of inevitable judgment and inescapable eternal punishment.”
Step One in reaching people with the gospel is learning their cultural worldview, so the words used will be correctly translated by the hearer, said Jackson, a former missionary in the Philippines with New Tribes Mission. He founded Global Empowerment to help people transcend culture while reaching people with the gospel.
“As your message goes through their worldview, it changes,” Jackson said. “They understand their interpretation of what you teach them. It’s not how well you know your topic; it’s how well you know your listeners and how well you adjust to their thinking that determines the degree of communication” that is accurately received.
People don’t change until their worldview changes, Jackson said. It’s a process that starts by building relationships.
Outside the core of every person are four ever-widening information filters, Jackson explained. The one on the outside is that part of a person most people see; it’s behavior, a person’s actions. A person’s behavior is modified by his values, which he holds because of his beliefs, which come from his worldview.
But at his core are his deepest motivators. A person’s behavior – such as attending church – might be modified for a time if he finds value in that, which he will if he acquires some Christian knowledge that he comes to believe. He might even adjust his worldview a bit to accommodate his newfound Christian knowledge.
However, it is not until the gospel is presented in such a way that it goes to a person’s core that a person truly changes, Jackson continued. “Your story drives your worldview.”
He quickly made three points: Everything gives hints about things at the core. You can’t permanently change things in the outer circles without changing things at the core. You can’t change the core without changing things in the outer circle as a result.
What happens in a person’s life is not what ruins it, Jackson said. It’s what the person tells himself about it. That’s his worldview.
“If I can replace your worldview with God’s worldview, you’ll change,” Jackson said.