Building Church Beyond the Ewe People

Paul’s Areopagus Speech as Model of Context Reading for the Global Evangelical Church, Ghana

  • Francis Lawer Sackitey
  • Cornelia van Deventer
Keywords: Acts 17:16–34, socio-rhetorical analysis, missions strategy, language planning, tribal and language barriers, Global Evangelical Church, Ewe people


Jesus’s command to make disciples of all nations in Matthew 28:16–20 calls for a missional and ecclesiological strategy that takes into consideration the socio-cultural, religious, and linguistic backgrounds of those the church reaches out to. Luke narrates the fulfilment of this mandate by recounting the spread of the gospel from Jerusalem, to what was considered the farthest parts of the first-century Mediterranean (see Acts 1:8). While the core of the gospel message was consistent throughout, Luke recounts various context-informed deliveries (e.g., Acts 2:14–36; 7:2–53; 10:34–43; 13:16–41; 17:22–31; 20:18–35; 22:1–21; 23:1–6; 24:2–21; 26:1–23). Paramount among these is Paul’s speech in Acts 17:16–34. Following a socio-rhetorical analysis of the aforementioned pericope, this article affirms the importance of “context reading” in the missions and ecclesiological strategy of the church, whereby churches take cognizance of the socio-cultural, religious, and linguistic settings of the communities they wish to impact. Using the Ghanaian context as a test case, we argue for a commitment to contextually-informed language planning in the Global Evangelical Church for it to move beyond its exclusively Ewe culture.