The culture in which we now reside is vastly different than the one most of us were born into. As strangers in a foreign land in which many hold a low opinion of the church and doubt its influence for good, we must humble ourselves in order to understand, and speak into, a culture we no longer know.
Cultural attachments of yesterday are diminishing our effectiveness today. Ask any veteran of the international missionary world and they’ll likely be happy to tell you what one needs to do to see success. Among the many skills they’ll mention, one theme will bubble to the surface over and over again: you must be a humble learner.
Bearing fruit in an unfamiliar context is predicated on your ability to enter the culture and learn the indigenous rhythms, significant symbols, inherent assumptions, and distinctive worldviews. Conversely, the best way to guarantee failure is to assume that local culture is inconsequential and messianically pronounce your omniscient perspective.
Wise missionaries understand that years of humble learning are essential to effectively embed the gospel in an unfamiliar context.
Perhaps that’s the challenge with North American evangelicalism – we actually believe we’re native authorities. Surely, those who were raised on this soil are positioned to speak and lead with unquestionable credibility, right?