Indigenous Evangelism


One of our core values at Revive Israel is Indigenous Evangelism. By “indigenous” we mean within the local culture. The goal of indigenous evangelism is to reach the local people. To do this in any culture often means discarding ministry methods and structures that were successful in other countries but are not bearing fruit among the native population. This is what Yeshua meant when He said, “new wine must be poured into new wineskins” (Matthew 9:17).

Flexing the Methods

The greatest revivals in the world today are in “third world” nations in Africa and Asia. Virtually all third-world revivals report rapid growth through multiplying home churches with lay leaders (no need for building rental, nor pastoral salaries). This method was a surprise to most “Western” style churches.

The point here is not to be anti-building and anti-ministry salaries (for they are biblical and usually needed). However we need to be flexible in our methods to do what actually works to reach our people. We need to speak their language, which is more than just words, but an understanding of one’s world view and thought patterns.

Notice that the crowd only listened to Paul when he spoke in Hebrew (Acts 22:2). That’s why we try to write our own tracts instead of using translated material. We must adjust ourselves to the culture of our neighbor. To love someone is to make the effort to understand and participate in their culture (I Corinthians 9:19-21).

Culture Adjusting

The center of all Israeli culture is the Friday evening Sabbath meal in family homes. An extension of the Sabbath meals is the Holy Day and Feast meals. This is true for secular and religious Jews as well. The secular have different styles of celebrating the Feasts, yet the home feast meal still remains the central event.

This idea has reshaped our thinking concerning the gospel. When Rachel Netanel and I started a new style of evangelism in 1998, our breakthroughs were primarily through Sabbath and Feast meals. There is an interesting parallel between the third-world concept of home churches and the Jewish concept of Sabbath meals. The combination of the two here in Israel could lead to a revival explosion.

This year on Rosh Hashanah, our little team of 12 Israelis were invited to a mixture of various family celebrations in homes with meals. The next day I asked them how many unsaved Sabra (native born) relatives and friends had been shared with. The answer was over 90 (ninety!). I have seen large rallies with huge budgets and famous foreign evangelists who have come to this country and reached perhaps 5 or 6 people.

This month our team is involved in sharing at conferences, festivals, street marches and passing out tracts. However, the most effective evangelism (not to mention fellowship) is taking place in homes. Patty Juster had an insight about how Yeshua revealed Himself to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus. The moment they sat down at home together and broke bread, their eyes were opened (Luke 24:30-32).

Notice the connection between home food/fellowship and effective evangelism in the early Israeli Messianic community. Acts 2:46 – breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart. While the very next verse states, “the Lord added to the congregation daily those who were being saved” (Acts 2:47).

Maintaining the Balance

Throughout the book of Acts we find a balance of main assemblies for worship and preaching alongside home, food and fellowship meetings. Both larger assemblies and home fellowships require the supernatural operation of the gifts of the spirit, especially in prophecy and healing (I Corinthians 12 and 14).

Yeshua said that whenever 2 or 3 gather in His name, His spirit and authority would be present (Matthew 18:20). It doesn’t require a large number, but it does require more than one. That is why Yeshua sent out His disciples in two’s, at least (Luke 10:1). Three families can make the start of a fine fellowship and outreach group (Ecclesiastes 4:12).

Yeshua also said that

“as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you do it in remembrance of Me”

 (I Corinthians 11:25). Interestingly, the center of every Jewish home meal feast is the Kiddush, with a blessing on the bread and the wine. So all we have to do is have normal Israeli home feast celebrations and do THIS (the blessing on the bread and the wine) in His name.

This combination of Kiddush and Communion, Food and Fellowship, Indigenous evangelism and Israeli culture will be a prophetic fulfillment of the commandments in the Torah to keep the Sabbath and observe the Holy Days in these end times.

A close friend, not-yet-believer, traditional rabbi in Jerusalem, once told me, “Asher, I’ve studied all the Jewish sources to find when the Kiddush was originated, and I’ve found that the first mention of it is by Yeshua in the gospels.” Thus (in this method of home feast meal celebration) we will proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes (I Corinthians 11:26). This kind of breakthrough in indigenous evangelism in Israel will lead us right up to the Second Coming of Yeshua.