Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Crossing cultural divides

I had an opportunity to talk to some seminary students about cross cultural ministry today. They are working in a church where the members are primarily middle class Anglos but the transitioning community is primarily poor Hispanics. They are tasked with the community outreach ministry. They have had much success with ESL and youth sports programs but cannot get the community folk into Sunday school and worship.

Their frustration highlights the complicated nature of multicultural (and transitional) churches. Although the Anglo church has taken steps to reach out to the community there are still some challenges to overcome.

There are language barriers, cultural differences, socioeconomic disparity and more. While church members may be willing to make adjustments, the unchurched have no compelling reason to come to worship. So, the big challenge is the fact that the unchurched are…well…unchurched.

Just because a person comes for English classes and brings their kids for soccer doesn’t mean that they are agreeing to Sunday worship. It does, however, offer an opportunity to build a friendship. Multiple contacts over time and the working of the Holy Spirit are the keys to soul-winning.

If the prospects won’t come to church, they might attend a home-based Bible discussion group. They primary objective ought to be community building with light Bible discussion. As the group develops cohesiveness, more serious Bible study can be introduced.

There’s no guarantee that they will come to the Sunday morning main event but it does provide an opportunity for witness and discipleship.

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