Friday, February 22, 2013

Engaging Hindus with the Gospel

The following is the first in a three-part series about engaging Hindus for Christ. These are modified from a paper I wrote recently on bridges and barriers to the gospel within a Hindu worldview.

I often get asked how it is that Hindus are coming to faith and for any advice in witnessing to Hindus, whether that be in India or the US. The reality is that there is no "one size fits all" formula or method for engaging Hindus with the Gospel as Hinduism is made up of a very diverse group of people around the world. And maybe to your surprise many of them have no problem with Jesus or the Bible as they see him as one God amongst many gods (330 million+). In part their own worldview makes reaching Hindus more difficult, especially where and how the gospel fits.

In my experience of church planting amongst Hindus I have come across three general types of Hindus.

1. The very active, religious Hindu.

These are the Hindus that have their gods, pray and worship daily, regularly go to the temple, and even have a prayer room in their house. Typically their life is guided and big decisions are made based on what their guru tells them. They worship many gods, but have their two to three that are the most important gods. In engaging this group with the gospel many will have no problem with Jesus and some will even gladly "accept" him as God, but with the understanding he is one amongst many.

2. The nominal Hindu.

These are the Hindus that are definitely Hindu in religion and name, but they only worship the gods as a show to those around them and at times of the year it will likely benefit them, such as for prosperity, health, etc. These are similar to your "Christians" who go to church on Easter and Christmas. These Hindus love to celebrate the large religious  festivals, and in their day to day life they will perform the rituals if they have time.

3. Hindu in name only.

This is the group of people that are not very religious and have very little time for the gods of Hinduism or the religious practices. In my experience the majority of this group are of the younger generation (ages 10-30) or those that have been successful apart from the gods. This is the group that I really have a heart for because they are at a good place in realizing that Hinduism is offering them nothing, but if they gospel does not penetrate their heart soon then I fear they will just turn to materialism.

These are recognizably broad generalizations and it gets more complicated with many nuances if you are trying to reach Hindus in the city opposed to the village. But aside from the broad generalizations, I have engaged all three groups with the gospel and the bridges that I will discuss in the next post are relevant to all Hindus everywhere.

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