CULTURALLY RELEVANT MINISTRY
Understanding and communicating within the culture God sent you to reach.
— RELATE SO YOU CAN COMMUNICATE —
S E R VA N T B A S E D M I N I S T R Y
Message text: Philippians 2:5-9; 1 Corinthians 9:19-24 NKJV
Years ago when I first came into AG, one of the first things I did was go on a missions trip to Belize. My new pastor, Al Roever, thought I needed this exposure so I would have the heart for missions that he was so passionate about. When we got to Belize we were told a few “cultural” things so we would be more effective.
Knowing the culture you are reaching is important.
Now I work with other cultures and understanding them is important.
Of the ten million bikers & motorcyclists in the United States,
it is estimated that less than 250,000 are members of lifestyle and dominant motorcycle clubs wearing the diamond 1% or the diamond 13.
BUT they have effects on the rest of the riding public.
So WHY do this??
Why take time to understand the really hard core culture if there is such a small percentage of the ten million motorcycle owners in America?
NUMBER ONE REASON…
Even a small percentage need to be reached
NUMBER TWO REASON…
A growing group including millions of American motorcyclist are beginning to dabble in the lifestyle excesses established as core issues by lifestyle bikers.
Cable television is cashing in on the appeal of biker documentaries, and with members of the Hells Angels MC appearing on tv shows such as the Discovery Channel’s popular series Monster Garage giving an image of creative individuals rather than the destructive forces in society broadcasted in the 1960s
Some members of the subculture seem to have attained something of an iconic status.
Members of the MC’s are seen more as pulp fiction characters instead of menaces to society as they were in the past. Now they are seen as role models by many.
The hedonistic parties of biker rallies are attracting millions of would-be lifestyle bikers to drink, party, and have illicit sex at record paces.
These are your neighbors… Your children’s neighbors, coworkers…
And they, along with the lifestyle bikers, are worth us sharing the gospel with them.
These are people Jesus died for.
Sometimes I wonder if these just be the people he would have called his disciples from if he were here today.
But this message is not just for bikers…
It will help you to work with any culture or community that you find yourself called to reach.
HOW DO WE RELATE SO YOU CAN COMMUNICATE
S E R V A N T B A S E D M I N I S T R Y
Philippians 2:5-9 5Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
1 Corinthians 9:19-24 19For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; 20and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; 21to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; 22to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you. 24Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it.
Incarnational & Servant
OPENING From a comment on a blog about reaching a different culture:
I think anybody theoretically CAN reach others… but there needs to be a willingness to enter someone else’s culture with respect and a teachable spirit. This seems to not happen very often. There is talk about “INCARNATIONAL” living, but in reality it never happens. They have taken the old evangelical model of “birds of a feather… etc” and transplanted it to the city where most Christian hipsters bubble off to themselves and avoid those who differ racially, ethnically, and culturally. They target those who go to Starbucks, are postmodern, and drink fair trade. Look, I think they are some good folks and at times great allies, but we gotta call a spade a spade! The “mission” seems to barely lead them to poorer communities, especially black and Latino one’s.
EDITED –Drew Hart | March 15, 2010
INCARNATIONAL – Jesus came in the flesh – Paul “became all things”
Think… I M M E R S I O N
SERVANT – Jesus and Paul called themselves SERVANTS.
Think… M E E T N E E D S
None of this can be done “willy nilly” You get out of it what you put into it. Before becoming a missionary I took a revitalization church with a very different culture than mine. The community was upset with the previous AG Pastor… BUT I did not focus on that at all. Instead I set out to understand and reach the community… It was 70% Hispanic… predominately 1st & 2nd generation Americans. Yet it had a long history of prejudice against Hispanics. The last generation was not even allowed to speak Spanish at school. Religious influence was heavily Mexican Catholicism along with some quasi-Pentecostal mysticism. I speak very poor Spanish… but found out that most people did not want to go to a Spanish church, BECAUSE the learning language of their children was English. We became part of that community, loved them, and met needs.
That is culturally relevant ministry!
Culturally Relevant Ministry requires you to…
INTENTIONALLY EXEGETE YOUR CULTURE
“How do you interpret a neighborhood?”
Most of us have been taught to look at a text in context.
The single verse or passage may communicate powerfully and immediately by itself, but it usually helps us to relate it to the chapter and the book, to know what kind of literature we are reading, to know something about who wrote it and when and why. We need to apply the same principle to our neighborhood. We can regard it as a specific text, or we can work to find out what makes the city [or culture] tick and how that affects our community.
Ray Bakke, The Urban Christian, InterVarsity Press, 1987, 108–109
6 COMPETING VALUES THAT SHAPE CULTURE
What to measure
|TIME||Time conscious and punctual
|Kick stand up at 9:00 am
Don’t disrespect me by being late
|JUDGMENT||Seeing the world in “black & white”
versus “shades of grey
|Black and white
Right or wrong according to our code
|HANDLING CRISES||Focus on preparation
versus comfort thinking on your feet
|Prefers to plan ahead and prepare
But will respond in a minute if forced
versus relationship orientation
|Brotherhood is number #1
Before job, before family… Anything
|INDIVIDUAL WORTH||Is honor achieved by works
or bestowed at birth
|Dislike for groups that wear “bought” patches
And do not have to earn it someway
|VULNERABILITY||Is it OK to show weakness?||NEVER|
This measurement works with any culture… Your community included
Culturally Relevant Ministry requires you to… ASK GOOD QUESTIONS
“How can the gospel best become
incarnational in this setting?”
“What cultural values and symbols
can be used to illustrate gospel truth?”
Tom Steffens’s detailed list of questions can be helpful in exegeting the culture wherever you are: