Practices Relating to Society

https://www.fruitfulpractice.org/?p=93The Fruitful Practices Research team has studied practices across many dimensions of ministry that are bearing spiritual fruit in the Muslim world. The recent IJFM article “Fruitful Practices: A Descriptive List” (Allen, et al. 2009) summarized the researchers’ findings so far. The ultimate goal of this research is to inform mission praxis, helping field workers to apply fruitful practices in their daily life and ministry. This article is the first in a series that will provide further detail about each section of the Fruitful Practices Descriptive List.

1 This article explores fruitful practices about “Relating to Society” primarily using a writing structure that is common in ethnography— excerpt strategy (Emerson, Fretz and Shaw 1995).

2 Explaining fruitful practices through first person accounts can help other practitioners see what these practices may look like in their own contexts.

Download the full article here or dive into a particular aspect below


Society 1: Fruitful workers communicate respect by behaving in culturally appropriate ways.

A worker’s attitude toward the host culture sends powerful messages. Fruitful workers behave in culturally appropriate ways in major cultural domains such as clothing and food, and especially in regards to hospitality. The key is sensitivity to the local setting, not necessarily whole-hearted adoption of local practice.

Society 2: Fruitful workers address tangible needs in their community as an expression of the gospel.

Good deeds often help workers gain a good reputation in the host community. Fruitful workers make clear that their good deeds are an expression of the gospel; otherwise, local people may assume that the worker is simply a good person or is trying to earn religious merit.

Society 3: Fruitful workers relate to people in ways that respect gender roles in the local culture.

Gender roles, and the taboos associated with them, are potent issues in the Muslim world. While maintaining a biblical perspective on these issues, fruitful workers strive to understand gender roles in their local context and demonstrate respect for these social norms.

Society 4: Fruitful workers mobilize extensive, intentional, and focused prayer.

Fruitful workers invite others to join them through committed intercession for themselves and the people they are engaging. They recognize that this can be as important as inviting people to join the team that lives in the host culture.

Society 5: Fruitful workers pursue language proficiency

Workers who are able to freely and clearly communicate in their host language(s) are much more likely to be fruitful. Fruitful workers carefully consider questions concerning language choice, such as whether to use heart or trade language, sacred or secular language. By learning language, they also gain a deeper understanding of culture, making language proficiency fruitful across a number of different dimensions.

Society 6: Fruitful workers take advantage of pre-field and on-field research to shape their ministry.

Fruitful ministry is shaped by many different streams of information, including ethnography, linguistics, and history. Workers who conduct research or actively reflect on the research of others are more fruitful than those who base their ministries on preconceived ideas or the patterns of ministry in their sending countries.

Society 7: Fruitful workers build positive relationships with local leaders

By sensitively and carefully relating to local authorities, including non-Christian religious figures, workers gain respect and good standing in their host community. Those who are intentional about choosing their relationships with local leaders are more likely to be fruitful.

Describing Fruitful Practices: Relating to Society

To assess your team on these Fruitful Practices, we encourage you to use our team assessment tool.