The last two weeks I’ve been at GCTS for a Doctor of Ministry program learning all about “Culture & Ministry.” Walt Mueller, Duffy Robbins, & Adonis Vidu have been guiding our cohort into a deeper understanding of what culture is, how it works and changes, how Christians should relate to culture, and how to effectively and biblically communicate across cultures. If you’re a youth worker and you want to be blessed and stretched, check out the GCTS D.Min. in Ministry to Emerging Generations (a new cohort starts in June!).
When was the last time you heard something that simultaneously made you think “Duh!” and “Wow, that’s brilliant!” I’ve had a ton of those moments this week, let me share just one:
Duffy clarified that it’s only “Communication” when the intended message is what your audience actually comprehends. Duh, right? Brilliant… right!
How often have we left a sermon or youth group and asked, “What was the sermon/lesson about?” only to hear a very different summary than we would give? Here are three cultural issues we need to work through in order for Communication to happen:
- Understand your own Culture – How are you a “product” of your own culture (ethnicity, education, geography, financial status, religion, family of origin, language, dress style, etc.). If you don’t understand your own biases and preferences, you’ll tend to communicate as if everyone should be like you.
- Understand your Message – I mean REALLY understand your message. What are you trying to say? What does the Scripture actually say and mean (without jumping right into application, just understand what the passage actually says and means). What do you want people to hear and understand and remember?
- Understand your Audience – Who are you speaking to? What is their culture (all the same things listed above)? What do they already believe about life, faith, eternity, etc. How will they best hear and understand the Message you’re trying to communicate?
It’s not what you say… it’s what they hear.
When we do these three things, Communicate is more likely to happen. Which of these comes most naturally to you? Which of these is the most difficult for you? I’d love to hear from you…