Trying to fit into a new church can give you culture shock.

When I pastored near Flint, Michigan, where blue-collar employees made up 75 percent of the work force, I made it a practice to visit the men in our church on their jobs. As we walked around the auto factory talking about their work, I realized how different their lives and backgrounds were from mine.

I grew up in a white-collar neighborhood of Washington D.C. and became a Christian through the ministry of a campus group at an eastern university. I went to seminary in a populous southern city directly after graduating.

When I moved to Flint, I never imagined myself as a "foreigner" to these people. We were Christians, and we were Americans! But the longer I was there, the more I realized how different their culture was from mine. And then it struck me: to minister effectively in Flint, I needed to have the mindset of a missionary.

I needed to think of church ministry as a cross-cultural experience. I had to assume I was a complete stranger to the cultural values and mores of the people, just ...

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