Adaptive Evangelism

The Apostle Paul was a driven individual prior to his Damascus encounter with Jesus Christ (Acts 9). So, it should be no surprise that as a disciple of Christ, he was equally driven to share the love of Christ and spread the Gospel. Paul’s missionary journeys provide a wonderful example for modern Christ followers on how to engage individuals from other cultures and become a global leader.

For example, Paul’s evangelistic efforts were powerfully effective in Corinth, a city that was not open to a religious system that called its adherents to exclusivity and holy moral living (DeSilva, 2004). It was a seaport city of commerce that contained numerous nationalities (Upshur-Myles, 2008) filled with an array of religious monuments (DeSilva, 2004) and accustomed to indulging in immorality (Upshur-Myles, 2008). Paul’s evangelistic approach is summed up in his admittance of becoming “all things to all people” (1 Cor. 9:22), or in other words, engaging in the culture in such a way to relationally influence the people of that culture into a relationship with Christ. Paul’s writings must be understood from an ideological texture approach with the culture he is writing to in the background (Robbins, 1996). We can not separate the audience of Paul’s writing from the writings themselves, and without a knowledge of Paul’s audience, we can not fully understand Paul’s words. Paul’s words throughout scripture speak directly to the people he is writing to, with whom he knew well, evidence of his own admission of becoming like a Jew, like one under the Law, like one outside the Law, like the weak in order to save some (1 Cor. 9:20-23).

For global leadership, this is a valuable lesson to apply. The vast diversity makes global leadership challenging, however Paul’s example of adaptation is a clear model for engaging individuals in various cultures in order to impact them.


DeSilva, D. A. (2004). An introduction to the New Testament: contexts, methods & ministry formation. Downers Grove, Ill. : Leicester, England: InterVarsity Press ; Apollos.

Raiter, M. (1999). Was Paul A Cross Cultural Missionary? The Apostle’s Cultural Milieu and its Missiological Implications. The Reformed Theological Review, 58(1), 1–15.

Robbins, V. K. (1996). Exploring the texture of texts: a guide to socio-rhetorical interpretation. Valley Forge, Pa: Trinity Press International.

Upshur-Myles, C. C. (2008). Exploring Paul’s Global Leadership Strategy Through 1 Corinthians 9:19-23. Biblical Perspectives, pp. 1–6.


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