The Indigenous Church in Context



mission, indigenous, hodges, church, missiology, ecclesiology


This article presents a ubiquitous, unnamed characteristic of the mature indigenous church—self-localizing or self-localization. This ‘self’ emphasizes translating a faith community into a local context. Further, self-localization considers social, geographic, and temporal boundaries in the formation of the church. New Testament Scripture reveals how the first-century faith communities learned, met, and expressed faith in a localized manner. Likewise, the contemporary church can consider how they communicate the reason for their faith community amid cultural symbols, artifacts, and social locations. In principle, self-localization proposes a question that catalyzes the contextualization process, developing other perceived ‘selfs’ of the indigenous church model. In partnership with the faith community, the assistance of cross-cultural workers can produce localized “new contextualized Christian practices” while preventing syncretism (Hiebert 1986, 188; 2008). A mature indigenous church exhibits a capacity to develop its contextualized orthopraxy of Christianity. This paper discusses the relationship of self-localization to the other ‘selfs’ of the indigenous church and the implications that follow.