Taking a Hard Second Look
Author: Herbert Klem
Published by: International Journal of Frontier Missions (12.2 Apr-Jun 1995)

It is possible that the literacy based approach as applied in non-reading communities reaches best those who most want to escape from the traditional culture into the modern world of wealth and technology, but it may not be successful in reaching the majority of the people, or the poor in many regions.

After over 150 years of literacy based mission strategy, we will still miss half the world if we continue believing that people must read in order to receive the Word.

In this article, Herbert Klem surveys mission strategy, especially that which has been literacy-based. He outlines the problems with relying on such literacy-dependent methods in reaching much of the world's population.

We can choose to make Christian teaching and Christian maturity dependent upon literacy by the forms of worship and communication we use, even if it is foreign to half of the community we are trying to reach. We can predict certain sections or certain percentages of non-reading communities will be put off by our media choice well before they even know what the message is about. However we must understand, that it is not the Gospel that is turning these people away. They are issues not related to the cross of Christ, namely, our love and preference for the power of literacy. The latter is turning whole communities off to the Gospel.

Comments
 Rick McArthur  |    Tue 18 Aug 2009, 22:34

This is a must-read for anyone involved in cross-cultural ministry with minority groups. Thanks Herbert for your insightful article. The assumption that literacy for the masses is a non-negotiable is very noticeable in this website, so it is great to see that fallacy addressed so well.