What are you referring to when you talk about planting churches in difficult places?
It would be great to say that no matter where we try to establish new churches we succeed, but that isn’t true. There are some places where the evangelical church has a difficult time establishing new churches. These are normally areas where the culture of the people is vastly different from the culture within the average church. In essence, there is a breakdown between the two cultures, leaving them with an inability to communicate in helpful, positive ways. The end result is either a negative critical co-existence or, more often, simply ignoring one another as if the other doesn’t really exist.
We believe that Jesus loves people who think, feel, and live differently than most Christians. Yep, you read that last line correctly. Jesus loves people who think and live differently from you and me. After all, the Scripture tells us in Luke that Jesus came to seek and save the lost, even when the lost don’t realize they are lost. It would seem that if Jesus cares about them then it is important that we care for them.
One great way to let people know you care is to get to know them and learn to appreciate them for the person they are; value them as people, as we honor them by listening and learning about them. Discover what they think, how they believe, and why they feel the way they do. This needs to be just as important as wanting to share with them what we think, feel, and believe. To us, this is called friendship; it’s building relationships, sharing our hearts, and loving your neighbor.
The issue of difficult places has everything to do with culture and customs as they define who we are and what we think. Whenever a person tries to cross into another culture there are going to be moments where they struggle to understand and to be understood. The more diverse the cultures the greater the gulf that separates them, which in turn raises the difficulty each has in being comfortable with one another. The result is a breakdown that leaves people divided along the lines of their own understanding with the difficulty of finding a way to cross over to the other side.
It’s important that we understand the difficulty we are talking about is not seen as one that exists because the people themselves are difficult. It is because the lack of understanding that exists between the people involved. The hardship in planting a church is because we are trying to bring thoughts from one culture into another and have to discover the best way to do that. Through time and observing we learn, change, and grow in understanding. The difficulty we are talking about is exactly this: the learning, changing, and growing.
As we explore Part 2 and Part 3 of this blog series we hope you will understand a little better how we plan to work through the difficulty ahead of us. As we learn we can adapt and change growing in trust through the experiences of life.
* The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author at the time of writing. They do not reflect in any way those of the organizations to which they belong to or are affiliated with.