Sunday, April 28, 2013

RANT: serving Christ with cultural competence

Signs out on the streets.
Gathering and gawking.

Offended by the reality of this world.
The real world. Or the world thats real to many.

The signs weren't placed as a flag for volunteers looking for the site. The site itself is it's own flag.

They plastered their work area with posters, celebrating their monthly service project. They seemed to feel mighty holy, spending the weekend swinging hammers instead of golf clubs.

I should be ashamed, bringing judgement down on them. After all, the semi-mega church was providing much needed service to our outdated and underfunded group-home facility. But I just couldn't help but notice a boastful attitude; boastful of their own benevolence instead of the God of mercy who teaches such love.

And then the offense, thats what really got to me. If you volunteered in a third-world medical clinic, would you complain of being exposed to sickness? I was completely thrown for a loop when the volunteers made a complaint to upper-management, simply appalled at the foul language of our residents. After all, their children were present.

It can be unsettling, to say the least,  to see an emotionally disturbed adolescent being... emotionally disturbed, but that is the reality of the world we live in. Outside our cozy homes are the people we see on the local news, the people that make us lock our doors and draw our curtains at night.

And those people, at one point, were children.
Emotionally disturbed children.

Maybe they were misled, maybe they somehow believed this would be a family-friendly environment, a safe and happy placed for their privileged children to get a dose of good 'ol hard work and service...

There is a world outside our safe Christian bubble. The dark corners and pockets of our towns are probably a little bigger than we might think. We might see these people at gas stations or in the check-out line in Wal-mart occasionally, but we don't live where they live. We don't shop where they shop, or go where they go. Our children don't attend the same schools as their children. Our problems and their problems aren't quite the same...

I'm not insisting that all upper-class mega church volunteers don't know this stuff, and I'm definitely not implying that there aren't Christians living in this other world I'm referring to. But I am suggesting that we serve with the unconditional love of Christ, with Him as the focus instead of ourselves.

"...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." 1 Cor 10:31b 

And I am suggesting we develop some cultural competency before stepping onto any mission field, even if its just a few blocks from home.  Apostel Paul is a good example of a culturally competent evangelic.

"To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, thatby all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings." 1 Cor 9:18-23

If you were going to Africa with your church to serve on a missions team, you'd probably start off by learning a little about where you're going and the people you'll meet. You would want to know what to expect from the people and how to respond appropriately.

There is a culture of poverty. A culture of mental illness. Of crime and delinquency.

Planning on serving a community? Learn a little bit about it first.
If its just not for you, leave it for someone else.
Serving with the wrong attitude is counter-productive.

And this concludes my rant.
The end.

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