I came across this interesting article where some case studies were presented. I took only the Albanian story as it is below. Please comment your thoughts.
“Albania: A case story from the 1990s. A young Albanian woman training at the Los Angeles Intercultural Urban Internship told me that Albanians see religion, including Christianity, as political and manipulative. She recounted the time when Islam entered Albania forcibly. “We became Muslims on the outside so we could remain Albanians on the inside,” she said. “We did whatever was required by the Islamic government so that we could maintain our culture. And we were basically successful!”
Today, as Islam pours much-needed money into this destitute country, Albanians again recognize political manipulation in spite of their desperate need for outside finances. They wonder again, “Are we being duped?”
This Albanian woman noted the success that church planters were having among young people in the cities–so much success that some mission agencies have decided not to send additional personnel.
But her parents were not impressed with this “so-called” successful church planting. They saw these newly planted churches as cults. Her parents told her they could never attend such churches. “They’re not Albanian!” they said. And her parents are not alone.
She then told why her parents felt so adamant about the new churches. The church planters are young, single missionaries, providing young people with fun things to do. The adults find it hard to take the young missionaries seriously. They go from house to house like the cults. There’s no church building. They pray and sing in English. They teach a new religion with no historical tradition. Unlike the rich heritage and long religious traditions of the Greek Orthodox in the south, the Roman Catholics in the north, or the courting Muslims, this cult begins with the more recent Jesus.
Her face betrayed her concerns about the church-planting process. The church planters should have begun by presenting the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This would have demonstrated to the Albanians that Christianity’s rich and ancient religious heritage takes a back seat to none of the other religions that surround them. Why did they begin their teaching with Jesus? This approach made Christianity come across as a foreign religion, a cult.
This case provides us with an intergenerational view of church planting. The parents rejected the messengers not just because of the age factor, but also because of methodology. The church planters targeted youth, used translators rather than learning the language and culture, and went house to house imitating the cults. They also began evangelism in the middle of the book, deemphasizing the rich history of the major religions that surround them, as well as that of the Bible, thereby discrediting Christianity. The parents saw methodology as synonymous with theology. Where is the Holy Spirit for this generation?
Should older church planters be sent to reach this missed generation? Sounds good, if they will take these criticisms seriously.
But what about the younger generation church? Will there be a reaction against Christianity? Will its members soon ask, “Have we been duped by Christianity?” When they’re challenged to serve, will there be a sufficient Bible foundation to help them overcome the communist understanding of volunteerism that required Saturdays be spent cleaning up the town? With such a weak foundation, will another generation of laborers, as among the Palawanos, be required to rectify the situation?
What can the young evangelists and church planters learn from the critique of the parents? Will the Holy Spirit take immediate action? Will he use this case story to teach a new generation of church planters how to improve flawed evangelism, as he did among the Palawanos with the Chronological Teaching model? I have many more questions than answers.”