Curiosity and Communication: Case Study of 
“Pure Jesus” Contextualization in Central Asia

Stan Nussbaum with Hussan L.

Presented at EMS North Central Regional, March 20, 2021


Summary:  This paper describes a Central Asian locally controlled contextualization process in a small house church network. The process appears to be moving along the lines advocated by evangelical missiologists like Michael Stroope and Jay Matenga, and a century ago by Roland Allen.


A key feature of the process is the creation of curiosity in three ways—surprising statements about Muslim practice, surprising statements about Christianity, and surprising acts of kindness and honorability. This deliberate technique, a conscious alternative to much current mission practice and to apologetics as conceived in the West, opens the way to substantial, friendly, yet challenging religious discussions through which a small but growing number of Muslims are coming to Christ.



“When our curiosity is triggered, we think more deeply and rationally about decisions and come up with more-creative solutions.” (Gino 2018)

But how do we trigger curiosity? Jesus certainly used one method—speaking in parables. Many missionaries attempt it by providing a programmed non-religious benefit such as ESL, medical service/training, agricultural development, or business consulting. Friendships are formed, credibility is built, but local people often are not curious about the outsider’s religion or not quick to express their curiosity.


The house church movement in this study uses a different engagement strategy available to cultural insiders—creating religious curiosity within existing social networks. We will characterize and illustrate three ways the movement does this--surprising statements about Islam, surprising statements about Christianity, and surprising acts of kindness and honorability. 


When integrated with “pure Jesus” contextualization of both theology and church structure, the creation of curiosity circumvents many common local objections to the gospel, which are often objections to foreignness not to Jesus. Several short examples will illustrate the use of curiosity and the fruit it bears, followed by a brief biblical and missiological reflection.


This case study will draw on stories provided by Hussan L., the leader of this movement. This is possible because of our unusual 15-year friendship, he an indigenous leader who has no formal theological training and I, a Western missiologist with no missionary service in the region, no Russian, and none of the local language. The insider supplied the description of the movement, usually by narrating stories; the outsider abstracted ideas from the stories, checked the abstractions with the insider, and related them to relevant missiological discussion.[1]


[1] As the missiologist and author of this paper, I am acting as a reporter with no vested interest except my friendship with Hussan. I am not connected to any church or mission agency active in the country under study, though I am the member of a network that promotes prayer for it and ministry there. I have never lived there. My mission experience is on two other continents, but I have made numerous short trips to the country over the last 15 years. My relationship with Hussan L. slowly emerged as one of the major fruits of those trips, and we now spend an hour or so each week on Skype talking in English as friends and colleagues. I find Hussan’s curiosity-based approach to evangelism intriguing and worthy of missiological attention.

1.   Raising questions about Muslims’ disrespect for the Quran


The most basic curiosity-building technique of the movement under study is not to raise questions about the theoretical authority of the Quran but about the flagrant disregard of that authority by Muslims, including their teachers, on one particular point. Converted to syllogistic form to make the logic more obvious for Western readers, the technique looks like this: 

1.Holy Quran commands us to study Torah, Zabur, and Injil (Law, Psalms/Writings, New Testament)

2.We don’t do that, and our leaders don’t teach them to us

3.Why not? We are not good Muslims if we don’t obey this Qurannic command.


To fight this logic, Muslim hearers would need either to demonstrate their knowledge of Torah, Zabur, and Injil or defend their own lack of submission to the Quran! What could be more un-Islamic than refusing its authority? Faced with that horrific prospect, they find questions pouring into their minds. “How can I become a better Muslim and obey this command of the Quran? How could I find out more about Torah, Zabur, and Injil?”


When that curiosity is aroused, the witness mentions, “We have a group at my house that talks about Torah, Zabur, and Injil every week. We read the stories and discover what they mean for us. Anyone may join us.” 


There is no mention of a “church” or any group name. It is just a meeting at someone’s house. New people might think of it only as a “Torah-Zabur-Injil group,” though the movement itself does not use even that as a name. (Nomenclature is spectacularly unimportant in the local language, as we will see later with the terms “Muslim” and “Christian.”) 


In some circumstances Hussan plants more questions by asserting, ”The Quran adds nothing to the knowledge of God that we have in Torah, Zabur, and Injil.” He knows that most local Muslims have never studied the Quran itself, much less Torah, Zabur, and Injil, so they cannot refute his assertion since they know he has studied all three. 


If the Quran adds nothing, a new question pops up. Why did Allah gave it to the Prophet at all? In what sense is it the pinnacle of prophecy if it adds nothing? On the other hand, if the Quran does add anything, then a Muslim or certainly an imam should be able to state what the Quran added. These thoughts give further motivation to join a group that discusses Torah and Injil.


Sometimes Hussan goes even further, talking openly of Muhammad’s marriage to a 6-year-old, which is totally unacceptable by local cultural standards. “This is what your Scripture [hadith, not Quran] says, and I don’t like it.” He asks how they can respect this action of the prophet, and he gets away with it. “They don’t accuse me of blasphemy; they try to explain it away because they know I’m not making it up. When I insist that the hadith say he married her, not that he adopted her [the standard attempt to deflect the force of the criticism], their faces turn sad and they start to think.”


In planting these questions about routine disregard of the Quran by Muslims, Hussan is exploiting the first of “five dimensions of curiosity,” which is “deprivation sensitivity—recognizing a gap in knowledge the filling of which offers relief. This type of curiosity doesn’t necessarily feel good, but people who experience it work relentlessly to solve problems” (Kashdan et al. 2018). They are bothered that they do not know something they feel they should know, and it is hard for them to put it out of their minds until they resolve it somehow. 


If people with these questions go to Muslim authorities for help and they receive a traditional authoritarian reply, “Don’t ask that question,” the reply may generate even more questions, especially among curious youth. “Why can’t I ask? Is there no answer? And if there is no answer, is this whole system of Islamic teaching true and worth holding onto?”


Such radical questioning became less shameful and more legitimate in the early months of COVID, when some Muslim leaders posted on their Facebook pages that local people should go ahead with their plans for the Hajj as usual, fearing nothing from the virus. Later nearly all the initial round of COVID in the country (which was severe) was traced to the Hajj. Prior to this, many Muslim youth would criticize the leaders in private, but COVID made it socially acceptable to make sharp public criticisms.

2.   Questioning rumors about followers of Jesus


Hussan’s house church network arouses great curiosity with its claim that people can become “followers of Jesus” without doing three repulsive things that Muslims thought were required of all “Christians”:

  • Believe in three gods

  • Change their religion and call themselves “Christians”

  • Become traitors to their family and the local culture

The claim that these despicable acts are not required of all followers of Jesus leads Muslims to two questions, one of which is a very scary thought. 


The scary question is, “Have I been spreading rumors about Christians? I just assumed they were true, and I repeated them without checking. But the Quran strictly forbids repeating unverified negative information.”[1] They therefore have to hear Hussan out in order to determine the truth or falsehood of the three statements. If they are rumors, the Muslims have to quit saying them.


Meanwhile they are also naturally asking the question, “If those three rumors are not what it means to follow Jesus, then what does it mean?” Perfect! The communication succeeded in arousing curiosity and eliciting a desired question.


This opens the way to further discussion of Jesus. However, this technique of generating interest depends on the surprise factor in the information, and surprise is a relatively weak emotional motivator as shown in the pie chart below (Shewan 2017). When replying to the question, “Then what does it mean?” the witness has to transition fairly quickly toward stronger emotions—awe and joy. That is, in fact, exactly what this movement does, as we shall see in section 3, “Honorable Examples”.

Screen Shot 2021-04-09 at 11.00.46

We need to say a little more about the way the movement makes these surprising assertions while staying faithful to Scripture. Of course, so-called “contextualization” is easy if we skim lightly over Scripture, and conversely the condemnation of other people’s contextualization is easy if we cannot see the difference between Scripture and our familiar theology and practice, contextualized for our home culture. Let us look closer at the way this movement contextualizes its theology, its labels or categories, and its church structure and practice. We will postpone the missiological evaluation to the end of the paper.


2A. Contextualization of theology. Three gods?


To avoid the charge of “three gods,” the movement does not use the word “Trinity” or talk about “three persons” in the local language, since people hear that as “three gods,” an unbiblical idea. Similarly it does not call Jesus the “Son of God” since to local people that phrase can only mean “the biological son born through sexual intercourse,” which is not what any followers of Jesus teach. Baptism[2] is done only in Jesus’s name (as commonly reported in Acts) not in three names (Matthew 28.20) because three names means three gods to local people.


While they believe in and teach the biblical mystery of the Father, Son, and Spirit, space does not allow us to go deeper into these obviously thorny issues. We only note that Muslims find the movement’s ideas intriguing. Of course, in mission history, valid contextualization has often been condemned as syncretism and/or heresy by foreigners and any cultural insiders who are beholden to them, and that has happened in this case under pressure from foreign missionaries.[3]


The movement is careful not to say that the doctrine of the Trinity is theologically wrong but that its use is missiologically unwise in this context because it kills opportunities to present the gospel of Jesus as God. Hussan multiplies those opportunities by a specific technique: 

When someone says to me that Christians believe in three gods, I shout, "Astagfr Allah!" (Arabic for “Seek the forgiveness of Allah!”) I say it just as sharply as a Muslim would when someone has unknowingly spoken blasphemy and put themselves in real danger. That gets their attention since "Astagfr Allah!" is something Muslims say and Christians don’t. Then I say that Torah and Injil teach only one God. And they say they want to talk to me some more about this.


People who hear Hussan say this assume he is a Muslim, but at other times he does not talk like one. So who is he? Their curiosity is off the charts. 


2B. Contextualization of labels and categories (language usage). Changing your ”religion”?


As for “changing their religion,” English does not capture the idea very well. In English, labels like Muslim and Christian are theologically loaded labels for mutually exclusive categories called “religions.” In the local language, all labels for theoretical categories are negotiable, not absolute.


In fact, in the movement’s practice the labels Christian and Muslim are so flexible that each person, even a new believer, is told to decide which label to wear (or both or neither) depending how he/she defines the labels. The members of the council freely share their own diverse practices:

  • Hussan personally avoids both labels and describes himself as a “person who has studied Quran, Torah, and Injil.” This positions him in the flow of a narrative and an actual situation, not in relation to abstract categories, “Christian” and “Muslim.” Locals do not feel any compulsion to put him into one category or the other.

  • Leader B says “God revealed himself to me,” not, “I have studied.” He felt the presence of God when people were sharing the gospel. “God revealed that Jesus was the Lord, and then I started studying.” He doesn’t say he is Muslim or Christian.

  • Leader S says “I am Muslim” because he is in a community where radical Muslims have a lot of power. He goes to the mosque but not regularly.

  • Leader V says he is Christian because he is a local Korean (descended from Stalin’s transplants) not a [local ethnic man], and “We know that all the Koreans who talk about Jesus are Christian.” Locals will call him a deceiver if he says he isn’t a “Christian.”


The council lets the local groups decide what to do in light of the whole range of stories, and the locals then own whatever decisions they make. This is genuine freedom. The leaders are not deceptively playing down the label “Christian” at first only to reveal later to people that they have become “Christians.” In the leaders’ view, the label is unnecessary, and it is unwise to use it because it is so loaded with misconceptions. Hussan notes that it is even possible that, if/when the movement snowballs, many of the adherents will see themselves as the “true Muslims.” 


Flexibility about using the labels “Christian” and “Muslim” is not sloppy theology or cowardice. This movement’s way of handling the labels is highly nuanced theology, bravely contextualized in each different situation. That is what happens in this case when labels for abstract categories are not imposed from the top down.


2C. Contextualization of church structure and practice. Following the Russian god?


The third repulsive thing supposedly required of “Christians” is to betray family and culture. In common speech, this is called “following the Russian god.” In this nominally Muslim Central Asian state, the current popular knowledge of Christianity came through superficial exposure to Russian Orthodox and Baptist churches.[4]


In the post-Soviet era, new churches planted by a host of foreign organizations (about half Korean and half Western) followed the standard Western Protestant pattern for church meetings and the structure of church leadership. Hussan believes this was a disastrous mistake because it makes the Church look like a foreign thing. In fact, it makes it look Russian because the imported model of church generally resembles the Soviet power structure. The overseas church or mission headquarters is the new “Moscow” from which all funds and all instruction manuals come.


The traditional model lodges power not in a national capital but in a local council of respected elders. A traditional proverb sums up the depth of trust the village puts in that group, “If the council tells you to cut off your finger, it will not hurt,” i.e., even if the advice of the council seems bad for you personally, do it anyway.


Remembering the burn-out he experienced years ago when he pastored a church using the imported model, Hussan passionately teaches today that a church’s leadership structure should follow the traditional non-formal model of local village governance, built to serve the community, not the top-down Soviet formal model, built to control the community.


He practices what he preaches. One day the host of a new house group happily called him with two questions: 

  1. Would he come and baptize their first two new believers? 

  2. Where would be the proper place to do the baptisms?


His answers surprised the caller:

  1. No, he would not come. They should do the baptism themselves so that the event would connect the believers to Jesus and secondarily to them, not to Jesus and secondarily to him. 

  2. They should decide the place themselves since they knew the community better than he did. 


The caller knows from these answers that Hussan is not doing things in a Russian way, as churches typically do. What is he doing instead? Acting like a local village elder, affirming individual responsibility and initiative instead of consolidating his own power. In contrast to every Soviet official, Hussan wants people to consult him less not more. His goal is that they will learn to hear God’s voice for themselves and confidently obey it without waiting to consult him or any other leaders. Members grow into this practice as they discover that, should they make a mistake in the process, their leaders will handle it in a constructive, pastoral way, not with offense, anger, and shaming.


Besides church power structures, church meetings are also contextualized. There are no church buildings. The house group meetings look more like traditional gatherings of friends than “church services.” Food is often shared, and the event can take much longer than an official “worship service.” 


Contextualization is nevertheless an ongoing challenge. Hussan has learned of two instances of Muslims coming to Christ in the last few weeks but their disciplers saying they do not want to bring them to the house meetings. Why not? Because there is singing at the meetings. 


Hussan had thought the meetings were contextualized because they are singing in the local language and singing many songs written by local people in very recent years. Not good enough, say the disciplers. As soon as the group sings, especially with guitars, the meeting will look foreign to the new believers. The future of music in the meetings is now being reviewed.

[1] Qur’an 24:12-15: “Why do not the believing men and women, whenever such [a rumour] is heard, think the best of one another and say, “This is an obvious falsehood”? . . . When you take it up with your tongues, uttering with your mouths something of which you have no knowledge, you deem it a light matter. Whereas in the sight of God it is an awful thing!”

[2] The movement uses the Islamic term “ghusl,” i.e., full-body ritual purification, for baptism, thus undercutting the accusation that they are “Baptists.” However, they explain that ghusl in Jesus’s name is a one-time event that makes a person ritually clean forever. It is not repeated in Islamic fashion weekly or at other intervals as preparation for participating in other rituals. Using a familiar term in an unfamiliar way is contextualization, and it arouses curiosity.

[3] I obviously do not agree with the “heresy” verdict, perhaps because my own doctorate and much of my missiological work related to African indigenous churches. In the early years (1900-1930) these were routinely dismissed as “heresies” on a variety of grounds often later shown to be misunderstandings or misjudgments. See Daniels and Nussbaum, 2015.

[4] Russian Orthodoxy was mostly in the cities among the ethnic Russian minority. The Baptists were mostly ethnic Germans transplanted into German hamlets by Stalin during World War II to get them away from the German border. The Baptist Church was small, socially despised by local culture and severely persecuted by Soviet authorities. When a Muslim called someone a “Baptist,” it was as derogatory as the N word in American English.

3.   Honorable actions that raise questions


This movement makes disciples in the true sense of the word, that is, it engages people in studying the Bible and obeying it, listening to the Spirit for guidance, and depending on the Spirit for power. Whether disciples have evangelistic intent or whether they are simply doing the right thing, their Spirit-directed lives show surprising kindness and honorability, and their actions raise questions.


Example 1: We have a traditional custom of slaughtering an animal for a feast when someone has recovered from an illness or been protected from injury during a bad road accident. The local word for this custom seems to come from a root word that means “pay,” and we believe it shows that our forefathers knew they owed a debt of gratitude to God and they were “paying” it with the animal. This is our culture, not Islam. When some neighbors were talking about the COVID-19 crisis, which was severe in our city, I told them that when it was over I would invite them to that kind of feast at my house. They thought it was a great idea. I see it as a God-given opportunity for witness. At that feast, I am the host and I can freely declare my thanks to God.


Example 2: A husband and wife who lead one of our groups were dying from COVID-19 without medical help. After a whole night of desperate prayer, they realized they were getting better and soon they were completely well. I told them about my feast idea. Now they are planning a feast in their village to share what God did for them, and people will remember that feast for years to come.


Example 3: We have a leader who sponsors a camp for local youth every summer with his own money, which he earns as an auto mechanic. He lives in an area where Muslim fundamentalists are active. It happened that a member of a radical Muslim group had his car break down near our leader’s house one afternoon. He stayed overnight because the repair could not be finished that day. In the evening the visitor, seeing that his host was not wealthy, asked why he supported that youth camp so sacrificially. So he told him about Jesus. In the morning, the man said he wanted to follow Jesus. This happened during the quarantine. The witness is now in touch with him often. Sometimes they go to the mountains together. He shares the word of God every time he has a chance, little by little.


Example 4: That leader’s father, now in his 70s, recently became a believer. He said that when he compared the life of his son who followed Jesus with the lives of his other four children, all practicing Muslims, he concluded that following Jesus must be the true path.


Example 5: Hussan’s wife recently started a sewing business, employing a number of Muslim seamstresses. She had a social gathering for them to get acquainted since many work from home. During the gathering, the question came up, “Why are you so different than other employers?” She answered, “I guess it is my belief in God.” They replied, “That’s not it. We all believe in God. What else?”


Example 6: Hussan does a little IT training, and he was recently asked by a young man, “Why are you so different from my parents? I came from the village to the capital and they did not even contact me for six months. You hardly know me and you paid for my IT class so I could get a job here. Why?”


These are examples not of generating new curiosity with new or shocking information but of capitalizing on a type of curiosity that is already there. This is “social curiosity,” the third of the five “dimensions of curiosity.” It is defined as “talking, listening, and observing others to learn what they are thinking and doing.”[1] Social curiosity is especially strong when the behavior observed is impressive in a good way. This pushes the “Awe” button, which as we saw earlier is the most powerful of the emotional buttons in promoting virality of Internet content.[2] And it works just as well on the grapevine as on the Internet.

Some missiological implications


We have seen how this movement triggers curiosity by countering Muslim expectations in three areas. 

  • Muslims expect themselves to respect the Quran, and they become curious when confronted with their own practice of disrespect 

  • Muslims are fully convinced that the rumors about “Christians” are true, and they become curious when this movement denies the rumors

  • Muslims expect followers of Jesus to hate Muslims and be disrespectful or even hostile to them, and they become curious when honorable actions are taken instead 


This movement has many more missiological implications than can be handled in one paper. We note four: 1) equipping local believers for local mission, 2) the sad decline of an uncontextualized church, 3) biblical authority, tradition, and heresy, and 4) patience in witness.


1. Training for creative engagement, not standardizing or always trying to get to a prescribed talk


Hussan’s one universal rule about evangelism is, “Every situation is different.” His goal in training people as disciple-makers is not to provide them with a canned message to deliver or a planned activity to carry out but rather to turn them into people who discern opportunities and engage them creatively.


Jay Moon describes this approach to making disciples, “Instead of the high-technology assembly-line model, [majority world societies] advocate a handcrafted model of production. . . The driving force behind the handiwork is creativity.”[3]


The main training technique in the movement under study is sharing stories in non-prescriptive ways. Trainers do draw out “principles” from the stories, but by this they mean frameworks that will give disciplers confidence to create their own custom solutions on the fly. Trainers provide neither techniques for the “right” actions to take in every situation nor a canned explanation of the gospel to use when a person is ready to accept Christ. A training session may look more like a palaver than a presentation. Trainees do not “master” the input; they absorb it.


Note that the body of this paper is mostly stories, but this concluding section is mostly analysis for the benefit of a Western audience. Therefore this section is somewhat suspect. Hussan gives me permission to do this and note the principles, but he would not want this turned into a formula for a seminar on “how to use curiosity in evangelism.”


2. Contextualizing in a country where mainstream evangelicalism looks imported


The evangelical church in the country under study is in serious malaise and decline. It has followed imported models—Korean, Russian, Western—for its congregational and leadership structures, its training institutions, and much of its practice. These did create curiosity in the 90s but their novelty has long since worn off. The nation now thinks it knows what a “Christian church” looks like, and it is foreign. 


Hussan’s movement aims at “pure Jesus” contextualization, following Jesus and the Bible without using foreign organizational models or foreign extra-biblical terms. Instead it affirms local culture, and this raises local curiosity because of the contrast with Christianity as locals have been seeing it.


The “solution” most promoted from outside today is still another imported method—the pastoral training seminar with a visiting foreign speaker. Hussan knows these well because he has translated for many of them, but he does not use them in his own movement. He knows the method is a game being played sadly by the cultural insiders. 


A trusted friend of his, though not a member of his movement, confided to us that his ecumenical circle of leaders now has an established procedure for responding to foreign requests to hold a pastors’ seminar in their district capital. They discuss, “Which of us wants to be the ‘bishop’ this time?” The same leader told us that he had asked another pastor how good a seminar was (one he did not attend himself). The pastor smiled and said, “The lagman was very good.” Lagmanis the favorite local dish of spiced beef, rice, and carrots.


3. Raising questions about 4th Century contextualization as universal theology


If the movement raises curiosity by teaching heresy, this whole paper obviously falls to the ground. We cannot compromise theological truth in order to generate curiosity! That would not be “pure Jesus” contextualization. But is Hussan heretically compromising, as he is accused of doing by the uncontextualized evangelical establishment in his country?


What he is doing is holding our evangelical feet to the fire we built. We are the ones who insist that Scripture has a unique authoritative place in theological discussion. We are the ones who warn that any theological doctrine, even if contextualized correctly for its time and place, should not be universalized.


And we are the ones whose evangelical tradition strictly requires us to break our own theological and missiological rules at one particular point—the articulation of the doctrine of the Trinity in English. Even though we admit that God’s Father-Son-Spirit being is a biblical mystery beyond human comprehension and language, we still insist that the English translation of the 4th Century contextualization of the concept is the universal standard. In effect, we strip the evangelical credentials from anyone who does not attribute the authority of Scripture to the wording of the Nicene Creed.


Roland Allen sadly noted in 1912 that “in different countries amongst people of the most diverse characteristics . . . there has been . . . no new discovery of new aspects of the Gospel, no new unfolding of new forms of Christian life . . . [no] new and perhaps perplexing developments of Christian thought” (Allen 1912, 185). Would not the inner being of God be exactly the place where we would expect to find and allow such “perplexing developments,” within biblical parameters, of course? But no, we have precise, non-negotiable, extra-canonical wording to define the mystery, and we export it to all times and places without any further contextualization.


Allen’s call to contextualization was picked up by Nida, Kraft and others in the 60s and 70s, and is still being echoed and updated by leading mission thinkers like Jay Matenga: “In missions studies, we need to delve deeper to see transformative processes at work that create true hybridity—a creation of something unique, not merely a mixing of parts that remain identifiable to their sources” (Matenga 2020).


The movement in our study is what Allen and Matenga point toward. It is Christianity, but not as we know it, and that should produce far more joy than anxiety. 


4. Jesus dreams


We have not mentioned dreams earlier in this paper because they are obviously not a “technique” the movement uses to create curiosity. We mention them now as God’s own way of creating curiosity. Nothing raises more compelling curiosity than a Jesus dream. These dreams are not particularly common in this movement, but a recent instance is noteworthy. 


A barren Muslim woman, a friend of Hussan’s wife, told her of a dream in which Jesus promised her she would have a child if she joined a church. Hussan’s wife, to Hussan’s great surprise, opted not to tell her the whole gospel on the spot or give her instructions about joining their house group. Instead his wife told him that she “expects to talk to her about it some more soon.” She apparently is letting the curiosity ripen, and she plans to pick its fruit when the Spirit tells her it is time.


That is so counter-intuitive that I believe it may qualify as a concrete example of “transcending the term ‘mission,’” asStroope proposes:


Rather than operating from “mission,” a modern paradigm, wedded to outdated ideas of distance and erroneous notions of power, we might choose to undertake the pioneering task of imagining life and witness anew from the perspective of a pilgrim who travels along the uncharted terrain of the boundless and coming reign of God. . . free to reorder our participation in the gospel and to position ourselves for fresh and revolutionary witness. (Stroope 2019, 168)


And who would be better suited to lead this pilgrimage of discovery than a group of Central Asians with a nomadic cultural heritage? And in that group, who better to lead than a woman in tune with the Holy Spirit’s use of curiosity?


[1] (Kashdan 2018) The other three dimensions of curiosity are less used by this movement. They are “joyous exploration, stress tolerance [willingness to risk], and thrill seeking.” “Joyous exploration” is built into the “discovery [exploratory] Bible study” method, but we cannot expand on that here.

[2] See Shewan’s pie chart above. Note that if the categories “Laughter” and “Amusement” were merged for 32%, they would exceed “Awe” (25%) as the top motivator.

[3] Moon’s paper has an entire section titled, “Assembly-Line versus Handcrafted Production,” p. 16-17.



Allen, Roland. 1912. Missionary Methods: St. Paul’s or Ours?  London: R Scott.


Daniels, Gene, and Stan Nussbaum. 2015. “Letting Africa Speak: Exploring the Analogy of African-Initiated Churches and Insider Movements.” .” International Journal of Frontier Missiology 32:4 (Winter 2015) 165-172.


Gino, Francesca. 2018. “The Business Case for Curiosity.” Harvard Business Review (Sept-Oct 2018).


Kashdan, Todd B., et al. 2018. “The Five Dimensions of Curiosity.” Harvard Business Review (Sept-Oct 2018).  


Matenga, Jay. 2020. “Identity Implications For Missions In A Covid Crisis.” WEA Missions Commission blog 5/18/20. Accessed 2/5/21.


Moon, Jay. 2017. Intercultural Discipleship. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, p. 16. 


Shewan, Dan. 2017. “6 Ways to Use the Curiosity Gap in Your Marketing Campaigns.” WordStream blog. Accessed 2/9/21.


Stroope, Michael. 2019. “Reimagining Witness beyond Our Modern Mission Paradigm.” International Journal of Frontier Missiology 36:4 (Winter 2019), 163-168.