2. Learn To Think Like A Missionary, Not A Local
Have you ever thought, or maybe even uttered the phrase “I’ll never understand why (group of people) do (behavior).”
That phrase is only true if you let it be true. You will never understand if you don’t try.
But if you take the time to try to learn why people do what they do, or think like they think, you’ll have a much better chance of reaching them.
Missionaries know how to adapt their language and methods to a new culture without changing the truths of the gospel. After all, they’re leaving their familiar surroundings and going to a new place, so the need is obvious.
But when you’ve lived in the same area for most or all of your life (maybe going back generations) it’s very easy to miss the incremental changes around you. You may be living in a culture that is as different from you and your values as the missionary who travels to a foreign land, without even leaving your own house.
We need to get better at cross-cultural ministry to reach our own towns.
Get out of your church world for a while. Join the PTA. Coach Little League. Maybe even sign up for a cross-cultural training class for missionaries at a local seminary or online. Do whatever you need to do to start understanding how the world around you – maybe even within your own household – is changing.
We can’t reach them if we don’t understand their language.
3. Concentrate On Doing What Only The Church Can Do
Almost everything people used to come to church for can be found elsewhere. Mostly online.
Want great preaching? Listen to a podcast. Great Christian music? Spotify. Someone to marry you? There’s a dot-com for that, too.
If we hope to reach newer generations, or even keep the ones we’ve got, we must concentrate on doing what only the gathered church can do.
You don’t need a building for that. Or a denomination, a budget, a choir, a pulpit or rows of pews. You just need a place and time for people to meet together to worship Jesus.
Our calling is not to maintain our cultural traditions. It’s to create opportunities for people to truly encounter God, share life with each other, and be equipped to bring the love of Jesus to the world around them.
Now, if that place happens to be a building with pews and a pulpit, fine! And if that time happens to be around 11am or so on a Sunday morning, great! But none of that is essential.