Indigenous, Insiders, Locals, Nationals… these terms refer to the critical resource of those people within a particular target context. Indigenous seeds are able to account for and either benefit from or are able to grow despite of their particular contexts. The soil and environs of a context are part of the uniqueness of indigenous seeds and plants. The indigenous grow, adapt or sustain, and mature to reproduce within their context. Sometimes this growth is only possible by the indigenous as opposed to foreign seeds that would either not survive or at least be unhealthy. Some seeds are able to transplant successfully, but the point here is to understand the inherent abilities of indigenous to grow healthily in their natural context in comparison to foreign seeds.
Spiritually speaking the indigenous people are living in their own context, in accordance with the culture and worldview of that context. As the gospel seed is sown in a given context, the gospel seed will find good soil at times. The gospel with take root in soft hearts of the indigenous soil and will grow into healthy indigenous plants unto a harvest of indigenous crops, namely an indigenous church. The indigenous persons and churches are able to deal with cultural and worldview issues of their context. As the gospel saturates the lives of the indigenous people, the Holy Spirit produces godly fruit in and through the lives of the people living out their salvation, living according to the reality of God’s grace.
This gospelization (gospel effect in the life, culture, worldview, etc.) of the indigenous does not occur without external efforts bringing the gospel truth into the new context by proclaiming and helping application of the gospel in the indigenous disciples.
The foreigner/outsider bringing the truth from outside of a given people or context is necessary, otherwise the truth would not enter within that realm and those lives. Also the outsider may remain and/or continue involvement and relationship in order to fulfill their unique responsibility in their relationship with the indigenous people. As disciple-makers the outsider does not end their relational responsibility with their disciples, although these relationships are dynamic: discipler-disciple relationships develop, change, et al. but also sustain at least in some degree because the disciple-maker commission is a responsibility in relationship. The “relationship” commission of making disciples is not an “event” but a “process.” Process requires ongoing, living or relating together in relationship.
However necessary the foreigner may be and however continual their discipler dynamic may be, the indigenous are uniquely able to address contextual dynamics and appropriate the gospel and purposes of God within their context. The foreigner is responsible in their relationship with the indigenous to model, exemplify, proclaim, learn from and teach, and in any and every possible aspect of life-on-life relationship bring the gospel/good news and mission/purposes and plans of God into the context of the indigenous. This foreigner-indigenous dynamic needs balance of relationshipping: relating together based upon a single reality and hope of the gospel of Jesus provides a foundation of truth and authority for both the foreigner and the indigenous. Neither person has the complete ability to determine how to achieve God’s plans in the target context, but both work together in relationship with an end goal that is actually beyond the indigenization of God’s purposes.
The local people in local church bodies will glorify God by 1) rightly applying the gospel reality to all aspects of their lives and 2) rightly accomplishing the gospel mission by engaging their own people and other people groups with the message of God’s single and unique way of hope for salvation through Jesus. So the indigenization of God’s truth through the lives of a particular people in a particular context is only the initial goal of the foreign gospeler who themselves is engaging in the gospel mission. The foreigner’s intended spiritual DNA or genetics of the indigenous people of God flows from the gospel mission, the purpose of the gospel (John 3:16-17; 1 Timothy 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9; Revelation 5:9; 7:9). The ultimate goal of the gospel mission is salvation of the world’s peoples unto every area of earth; therefore, the end goal is for the indigenous to move beyond their own context to other/different contexts, where they will become “foreigners” themselves. This DNA of multiplication unto movement within and then beyond a particular context needs to be brought in by the initial foreigners. These are aspects of the dynamic foreigner-indigenous relationships.