Over the past several years, we've had several individuals and couples leave our church to accept full time positions in missions. Most of the time, they will take a short term trip and see if their calling is confirmed by their experience and when they return, if indeed their calling is confirmed, they will be sent off for training and then assignment.
Once they leave our church, they will spend several months in training and in the case of international missions, there will be several months of language training. Missionaries have to go through a lot to be able to work effectively with their new people group.
And what makes us think that pastors of local churches don’t have to go through the same process? Just because we speak the same language doesn't mean we understand the culture. And if we don’t understand our culture, our ministry will be limited.
So what is it we need to know about our culture?
For one thing, we don’t live in a Christian nation anymore. We might have at one time, but right now, every indication is that Christianity is now a minority of our population. Our culture – arts, entertainment, political and social agendas – doesn't support or agree with the teachings of Jesus.
In order to succeed, we’re going to have to learn to minister from the edges of our society. That’s OK. The church has done this before… and done it well. But we have to learn to think like missionaries.
Think about it. If tomorrow morning, was the first time you had seen your community, what opportunities and challenges would you see?
Don’t assume anything. We are no longer in a position where we can assume anything.