Anticipated outcomes:

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

·   differentiate between indigenisation, contextualisation and syncretism;

·   differentiate between different contextualisation models and weigh the relative merits
    of each;

·   outline a contextualisation process;

·   identify the roles of an outsider in the contextualising process.




1.       What are some aspects of Western Christianity that are syncretistic?

If you need a start on this, see van Rheenen, Gailyn. ‘Modern and Post-Modern Syncretism in Theology and Mission.’  In The Holy Spirit and Mission Dynamics. Edited by Douglas McConnell. (Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 1997), 164-205.


van Rheenen, Gailyn (ed). ‘Contextualization and Syncretism’.  In Contextualization and Syncretism: navigating Cultural Currents, Evangelical Missiological Society Series No. 13. Pasadena, CA: William Carey Library, 2006.


Hiebert, Paul. Anthropological Implications for Missionaries. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1985, chapter 5.


Guiness, Os. The Gravedigger File. London, UK: Hodder and Stoughton, 1983.

What are some perspectives of the Scriptures we can learn about from believers in other cultures?[1]

What strategies can we develop to minimise the risk of contextualisation? 

2.       Case study 9.2: Don’t Come Over and Help Us

Source: Alan Neely, Christian Mission: A Case Study Approach (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1994), 144-157.


1.  An interesting insight on the use of the genealogy of Jesus is provided by Joanne Shetler with Patricia Purvis, And the Word Came With Power (Portland, Oregon: Multnomah Press, 1992), and the work of Raymond Brown, The Birth of the Messiah (Geoffrey Chapman Pub. 1977) could provide a new slant on a Christmas message using the genealogy of Jesus.