Definitions of Terms | World Mission Associates | Promoting local sustainability in global missions

Definitions of Terms

10/40 WINDOW


The 10/40 window is approximately between 10 degrees north and 40 degrees above the equator extending across North Africa, the Middle East, Asia. The 10/40 window consists of the least evangelized countries in the world. There are approximately 4.75 billion people and 8,093 distinct people groups residing in the 10/40 window. 5,530 people groups within the 10/40 window are listed as unreached. To discover more visit: http://joshuaproject.net/resources/articles/10_40_window


AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGION


The primary traditional beliefs and practices of Africa are defined as “spiritism” or “animism,” which was primarily passed on through oral tradition and is expressed in a variety of forms and levels of intensities. Formal practitioners play a huge role in traditional African beliefs through the practice of “divination” and serve as a provider of guidance to those who depend on him or her.


ANIMISM


Used to describe the worldview of those who believe that “spirits” reside in everything and have power over humans and human affairs. In this case, people do not remain idle in relationship to these spirits and spiritual forces, but rather must appease and manipulate these spirits to attain well-being and harmony.


APARTHEID


Describes the policy and system of so-called “separate development” which the South African government used to support white minority rule. Aspects of this policy were evident for several hundred years, but it was only formally adopted as government policy in the mid-twentieth century. The government of South Africa officially discarded apartheid as official policy in the early 1990s when the country became a multi-racial and multi-party democracy.


APPROPRIATE TECHNOLOGY


Used to describe technology that is appropriate to the society in which they are placed—usable, affordable, and maintainable for those who are supposed to benefit from its use. One might include not imposing the Western drive, exepctations, and consequences of technology obsession.


BASIC PRESUPPOSITIONS OF LIFE


The assumptions which all of us have but which are often difficult to identify or define. They determine how we make decisions on the spur of the moment. It is often easier for someone else to identify other’s basic presuppositions than it is for the people themselves.


CHURCH GROWTH


This term means different things to different people who use it. As used in this series, it refers to the movement which began in the 1960’s primarily through the inspiration of Dr. Donald A. McGavran. It refers to a comprehensive way of understanding the growth and spread of the Christian movement.


COLONIALISM


Describes the attitude and set intention of countries in Europe, North America and elsewhere set about to possess or “colonize” many places in other parts of the world. It often included imposing government and business practices in a way that benefited those doing the colonizing. Colonialism consisted of creating unequal relationships in which the colonialists ascribed power to themselves and stripped power from the indigenous people.


COMMUNITY IMAGE


How people in the community view the church within their local context.


CONCENTRIC CIRCLES


Circles within circles are called concentric circles. Concentric circles are used in a variety of fields to show interconnected relationships.


COSMOLOGY


Another word for worldview. It describes how people look at and seek to interpret the world around them.


DEPENDENCY


In our case, dependency is an unhealthy condition of depending on foreigners or those outside the organic membership to pay for, implement, or oversee their local efforts, which results in negative and long-term spiritual, social, economical, psychological, and cultural consequences.


DEVELOPING NATIONS


Developing nations is an elusive phrase referring to nations whose gross domestic income is lower than that of industrialized nations. The economy of these nations relies mostly on agricultural produce for export, and the majority of the rural population lives below the global poverty line and needs support to improve their livelihood.


DIVINATION


Describes the way in which practitioners of traditional religions gain insight into present or future situations through discerning omens, the spirits, traditions, curses, etc. and advise clients what to do and how to proceed to overcome these spiritual influences and to improve well-being.


ETHNICITY


A population group whose members identify with each other and the group as a whole, based on shared genealogy, cultural traits, and tradition.


E-1 EVANGELISM


UE-1 through E-3 Evangelism is a means of defining cultural distance in evangelism created by Ralph Winter in Perspectives of the World Christian Movement. E-1 is used to describe evangelism among those who are of the same cultural group.


E-2 EVANGELISM


E-2 describes cross-cultural evangelism among non-believers who are culturally “near neighbors.” They may speak a related language though it might not be mutually understood. An example would be German, French, English and Spanish people who have a similar cultural background even though they may not be able to understand one another’s language.


E-3 EVANGELISM


E-3 describes cross-cultural evangelism among non-believers who are very different from one’s own cultural group. Their language, customs and worldview are completely foreign to us. These are our culturally distant neighbors.


EVANGELIZATION


For our purposes, evangelization takes place when the Gospel has been presented in such a way that those hearing it are capable of making well thought-out commitments (able to understand and count the cost) regarding Jesus as Lord and Savior.


EXCLUDED MIDDLE


This term is used to describe an important area of life experienced by many spiritists or animists. The middle describes an everyday reality based on believing in and interacting with local gods and goddesses, spirits, ghosts, charms, magic, dead ancestors, etc. Westerners tend to hold a two-tiered view of reality, also referred to as dualism: religion (cosmic gods, angels, supernatural, sacred, etc.) and secular (science, naturalism, empirical evidence, mechanical, etc.). Missionaries and development workers who are trained in the West often operate with little or no understanding of the “middle” reality of the majority world. Thus, there is a need for developing a an understanding of the excluded middle and a holistic mission approach for those who are Westerners.


EXPATRIATE


Technically this term refers to people who reside in a country as a temporary or permanent visitor rather than a citizen. It is frequently used to describe professionals, volunteers, and missionaries who are not citizens in the countries where they work.


FATALISM


A belief and sense that everything is predetermined and thus people have no power to change the outcome. This sense often leads to people resigning to their fate rather than proactively solving their problems or changing their circumstances.


GERM THEORY OF SICKNESS


Used to describe the western scientific understanding that sickness is normally caused by bacteria or germs. This leads westerners to search for the “what” and “why” behind illnesses. Non-westerners often search for “who” is behind the illnesses and “who” can offer the solutions.


HARAMBEE


Is a social event based on Kenyan tradition, which people cooperate together to promote a cause and raise funds. It is an attempt to make giving an enjoyable social occasion, often including a spirit of friendly competition in the buying and selling of donated items such as fruits, vegetables or cooked meals. The church in Kenya has used this tradition to raise funds for a church, community, or family project.


HERBALIST


A person who provides traditional remedies for illnesses. Such a person uses “herbs” (parts of plants or trees) and may or may not practice spiritism.


HOMOGENEOUS UNIT


Used to describe a group of people having a common set of characteristics. They may speak the same language, participate in the same profession or have a similar cultural background.


HUMAN RESOURCE DEVELOPMENT


Human resource development is various learning activities that seek to assist the organization in meeting its strategic goals, including education, leadership development, and organizational development.


INDIGENEITY


Describes the state of being indigenous, or locally owned and operated.


INDIGENOUS


Indigenous refers to the original local people or culture of a nation.


INDIGENOUS CHURCH


A church or churches that are theologically and culturally rooted in their own culture and is able to govern, support, and reproduce itself.


INTER-ETHNIC MISSION SOCIETIES


Used to describe mission societies with missionaries from many churches cooperating in the spread of the Gospel. Such a society may have missionaries from the German Lutherans, Dutch Reformed, Anglican and American Baptist denominations.


JUBILEE


The Biblical concept found in Leviticus chapters 25 and 27 and Numbers 36. It was a system built into society for the periodic redistribution of wealth. It included returning land to the original owners, freeing slaves, and forgiving debts.


LEADERSHIP


Leadership is the process of motivating people to work together to accomplish great things.


LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT


Leadership development is defined as expanding the collective capacity of organizational members to engage effectively in leadership roles and processes. Leadership development encompasses all activities that enhance the quality of leadership within an individual and the organization.


LEARNING ORGANIZATION


A learning organization is an organization that incorporates continuous and transformative learning. It proactively uses learning in an integrated way to support and catalyze growth for individuals, teams, entire organizations, and the institutions and communities with which they are linked.


MARGINAL CHRISTIAN CONVERSION


The term used to describe those who are only minimally committed to Christianity or superficially conform to Christian practices. They are the most vulnerable to turning to another religion or back to their previous religion, especially in a crisis because their new faith does not relate to their deep seated worldview.


MATERIAL RESTORATION


Material restoration is economic transformation evidenced by self-sufficiency, financial stability, crisis management, and improved quality of life.


MISSIOLOGY


A term used to describe the study of cross-cultural missions. It was first used by Catholic missionaries but has come into common usage by Protestants in the last half of the twentieth century.


MOBILIZING


Encouraging people to become active in evangelization, discipleship, and missionary activity through their God-given vision, gifts, capabilities, leadership, and resources.


MULTI-INDIVIDUAL DECISION


A term used to describe many members of a family or extended family deciding to become Christians at the same time. It differs from group conversion in that individuals have a choice in whether or not to join others in the process.


PARADIGM SHIFT


A paradigm is a framework of ideas and values and how those aspects shape our approach to life, projects, organizations, etc. A paradigm shift means that our fundamental assumptions and values change, thus we change the approach.


PATERNALISM


Paternalism is the state of operating out of the mindset that outsiders know more and can do better than those in the host culture. A partner word of paternalism is ethnocentric. The authors of When Helping Hurts describe five types of paternalism: resource, spiritual, knowledge, labor, and managerial.


PEOPLE MOVEMENT


Refers to the conversion experience of more than one person at time – usually a family or clan. It is not the same as a mass movement in which some members of a society may feel themselves coerced into agreement. Rather the term is best defined as a “multi-individual decision” – a real possibility in societies where communal decisions are often undertaken after discussion. For a good description of the concept of people movements see Chapter 7 in “People Movements in Southern Polynesia” by Alan R. Tippett.


PERPETUAL JUBILEE


Sometimes used to describe what Jesus had in mind when He said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth” (Mark 10:21). It includes helping those who are in need, recognizing that it is better to give than to receive (Acts 20:35). In short, it does not allow for the accumulation of large amounts of earthly possessions.


PERSONAL RESTORATION


Personal restoration is the realization of God-given potential and purpose leading to a greater sense of self-worth and a brighter future.


PARA-CHURCH ORGANIZATIONS


Christian organizations that are not directly related to any one church or denomination. They might be referred to as non-denominational or sometimes inter-denominational organizations. Examples of para-church organizations include Bible societies, World Vision, Scripture Union, Campus Crusade, and many others. This term would not be used to describe an institution (such as a Bible institute or hospital) directly under the control of one church or denomination.


POWER ENCOUNTER


The phenomenon that occurs when the power of God is demonstrated in the midst of “the powers.” The best known scriptural example of a power encounter is the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Another example can be seen in the film “Peace Child” (story by Don Richardson), when a special stone was passed around demonstrating that its magical powers were no longer effective.


PROPHETIC MINISTRY


In our scenario, prophetic ministry refers to speaking out on important issues, which will benefit communities and their governments. The term is not used in the sense of foretelling events which one thinks may be coming.


RESTRUCTURING


The term used to describe the changing of the church structure so that it becomes compatible with the society in which it is located.


REVIVAL


A spiritual awakening among believers – such as the East African Revival.


REVOLVING LOAN FUNDS


Refers to the establishment of small loan funds, which are managed for the benefit of people who need help to start a business. It is assumed that unlike grants, these funds will be repaid and then re-used for the benefit of others. The local group itself provides the accountability and incentive for the loans to be paid back.


SCAFFOLDING


The term used by Dr. McGavran to describe mission societies in relation to the churches they start. He claimed that it was not meant to remain forever, but rather to be taken down and moved elsewhere as soon as appropriate.


SCHISM


Refers to the division of churches into groups or factions. Many African Independent churches were started by such a schism.


SELF-IMAGE


How we view ourselves or how a church views itself in its local context.


SELF-RELIANCE


Self-reliance is the desire and ability of a community of people to initiate, use, maintain, and multiply local resources to fulfill agreed-upon objectives.


SPIRIT THEORY OF SICKNESS


Unlike the “germ theory”, the spirit theory of sickness concludes that there is a spiritual reason behind most, if not all, illness. This is believed to be true even when western medicine gives a carefully constructed scientific explanation for an illness.


SPIRITISM


Similar to “animism” – spirits reside in everything and have power over humans and human affairs. In this case, people do not remain idle in relationship to these spirits and spiritual forces, but rather must appease and manipulate these spirits to attain well-being and harmony.


SPIRITUAL AWAKENING


Dr. J. Edwin Orr, the famous researcher on revivals and awakenings, used this term to describe what happens among masses of unbelievers when they are brought to readiness for spiritual change. He reserved the use of the term “revival” for an awakening which happens among believers.


SPIRITUAL RESTORATION


Spiritual restoration is the development of a relationship with God through Jesus Christ leading to spiritual maturity, faith in action, and disciple-making.


SOCIAL RESTORATION


Social restoration is reconciliation between people leading to a community characterized by solidarity, collaborative service, justice, respect, and interdependence.


STOREHOUSE GIVING


A concept of giving which insists that tithes (especially) and offerings should be brought first to the church or “storehouse.” When this is done, gifts or offerings may be given to others in need. The concept is based on Malachi 3:8.


SUSTAINABILITY


Sustainability refers to the foundational and continued capacity of local people and entities to birth, take responsibility for, resource, lead, and multiply their own initiatives.


SUSTAINABILITY DEVELOPMENT


Sustainability development is development that meets the needs of the present community without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.


THREE-SELF PRINCIPLE


Used to describe indigenous or independent churches that stand on their own two feet. Such churches are often described as being self-supporting, self-governing and self-propagating. Some mission practioners are opposed to the word “self” due to the Western emphasis on individualism. In this case, another way to describe the three-self principle is local-supporting, local-governing, and local propagating.


TICKET SYSTEM


The system used to record the regular giving of church members. It was often a small amount compared to the income of the individual in Southern Africa. It was started by John Wesley and is still in use in some parts of Africa and elsewhere.


TITHING


Based on the Biblical concept of giving back to God the first 10% of what one earns. For the Biblical usage of the term see Leviticus 27:30 and Malachi 3:8.


UNHEALTHY DEPENDENCY


Unhealthy dependency is the psychological and financial condition of depending on the resources, people, and influences that are outside of the local context (usually affluent countries) instead of generating resources, capacity, and vision from within the local context.


WORLDVIEW


Used to describe how people view and interpret the world around them.