In some countries, changing religion to Christianity is tantamount to a death sentence. In many other countries, new disciples face huge social consequences; they may lose their jobs or their housing. In villages in India, for example, believers may not be allowed to use the village well or buy rice at the local store. There's an intimidating social cost to pay as they are rejected by their community .
A new phenomenon is occurring in some of these countries: the insider movement. Whereas in old style missions, the missionary insisted that people change to effectively appear Western, within insider movements, new believers are free to remain within their culture.
There are movements to Jesus within major religions today. Insider movements occur when groups of people come to faith in Jesus while remaining within their own social context and to some extent within their religious contexts too. So, for example, we have Messianic synagogs and Messianic mosques where people worship Jesus. When the local religious leader comes to Christ, he may bring his whole assembly to Jesus.
These people follow Jesus as Savior and Lord with no syncretism (blending the beliefs of their old religion with their new walk with the Lord). As they allow the Bible to reform their behavior and beliefs, they find various aspects of their old life that they must reject. Equally, other things can be re-interpreted in the light of the Scriptures. Cultural traditions with no religious significance, for example, the red dot that denotes the married status of a Hindu woman, are allowed to remain.
Because these new believers remain within their own culture, not only is there little to no persecution, they have far more opportunity to spread the Gospel. Since they come to faith as a group, there is no disruption of their community.
What do you think?
Are there aspects of Western society that could use insider movements too?