Posted by: everynation | April 30, 2008

Cultural Sensitivity

by Jeff Bullock

Even though I am free of the demand and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people: religious, nonreligious, meticulous moralists, loose-living immoralists, the defeated, the demoralized-whoever. I didn’t take on their way of life. I kept my bearings in Christ-but I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it! The Message 1 Corinthians 9:19…

Our goal has always been to win nationals to Christ without being a stumbling block to those we are trying to reach. If people stumble let them stumble over Christ not us. Our dress, our life-style, our participation or non-participation in the culture never won anyone to Christ. The Ukrainians never asked us to become Ukrainian nor did the Poles. That would be too shallow. For us embracing a few simple principles has, in most cases, given us favor.

Cultural Sensitivity meant for us:

Genuine care and concern for those we were trying to reach

Willing to change our thinking from “American” Christianity to Kingdom principles

Willingness to sacrifice time and money to win the lost to Christ

Taking time to discern the demonic strongholds (thinking) in the culture and challenge them honestly, with balance, and without prejudice, with Biblical truth.

To serve rather than teach or lead

I have been accused of being more “American” than most missionaries…whatever. I don’t consider that statement a badge of honor nor do I consider it derogatory. I am an American but I try not to impose American values on the culture. Be who you are and make adjustments to your lifestyle so as not to offend nationals. I don’t demand the culture, I now find myself living in, to embrace my preferential values.

We have always tried to flow with the norms of the culture that are moral or neutral. Those that are immoral we draw a line and don’t participate in them. We are not self-righteous about it, nor judgmental, nor critical…simply, humbly, and quietly as possible, we choose not to participate. When something ought to be said we try to discern the timing of when or when not to speak.

Lastly let me say…emphatically…

Some would use Paul’s quote “become all things to all people” to justify drinking a beer with those who drink a beer or smoke a cigar with those who smoke a cigar in order to win them to Christ. Personally I think that is a bunch of … shitake mushrooms. Whether you drink or don’t drink, smoke or don’t smoke will never win someone to Christ. The gospel is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes. Preach the gospel and live the gospel… that is power. Please don’t over spiritualize choices of conscience.

Jeff Bullock is the author of “The Pub” and is currently planting a church in Budapest, Hungary.

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