Sipping a Latte at Firehouse Coffee in Prescott, Arizona, I came across this in my required reading of “Intercultural Communication for Christian Ministry” by Frank Tucker:
1: Combine an understanding of the Gospel with an understanding of contemporary worldviews.
2: Challenge contemporary worldviews where necessary and present the big story of the Bible.
What I got from this chapter was to listen first. I need to learn their worldview before I prayerfully assert mine. It’s difficult to “listen” in the traditional sense on social media. Listening can look like lurking on social media.
People on social media participate sometimes through quiet scrolling. They are the “listeners” of the online world. They read your statuses, pray for you, and stay informed, but rarely participate online. This, too, can be a way of learning another’s worldview in order to know how to serve that person and use contemporary ways to deliver the truth of the Gospel to them.
It’s especially important if the person online is from another country. If you don’t know the culture yet, you can fall into miscommunication fairly easy.
More later on this. I am 30% done with this book. It’s one of the required reading books as an appointee with WorldVenture. Sometimes, there just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done.
The post was up to several likes on my social media. I smiled in the semi-darkness of the living room. My statistics on TRC Magazine were really doing well, too, with people coming from all over the world. Compared to other much bigger and well-known people, it’s barely a blip on the radar, but satisfying. Without my belief in God, memories of being humbled, and knowing that, if I don’t keep my intentions in check, I could end up like other leaders in the online world who built their own kingdom rather than God’s; a kingdom scattered now like broken porcelain around their feet. So what does it look like to be teachable?
Intercultural Communication for Christian Ministry by Frank Tucker said:
“House plans are drawn from various perspectives, they are not complete; all perspectives are needed to contribute to the whole. When we apply this concept to an intercultural situation, the people of each culture have a unique perspective on life. We may learn from one-another, but each is only a partial perception of reality and each needs to be subject to modification in openness to the Spirits’ revelation of reality as God sees it. (Location 1090-1091; emphasis mine).”
Listen first. It is only our arrogance that keeps us from hearing what the others are saying. Even if we disagree with them, we don’t have a whole picture. Practice listening on social media.
Ask questions. I find that, when I don’t have the answer or a complete picture, I ask questions. A teacher once said there are no stupid questions. Asking questions is especially handy when trying to open up a discussion. A person doesn’t want to be told what to think. It is the right question that makes them think further on the subject.
Admit what you don’t know. Christians don’t have all the answers. We can learn better together; Leaning on each other, helping each other, and working together is wise.
“Acts 8 describes a story that might help us think through this. An Ethiopian eunuch — a God-fearing Gentile who served as treasurer to the Ethiopian queen — had made a five-month journey by chariot to Jerusalem in order to worship God. During his return trip he was puzzling out loud over the Isaiah scroll that he held in his hands. And the Holy Spirit appointed Philip to help him understand the meaning of the Bible.”
The eunuch understood his own insufficiency. A Teachable Spirit urges us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. The article reminds us to be doers of the Word, to wrestle with the Word within ourselves, asking God for meaning, and going to others when we need help understanding it. I’m new to the mission field.
The help of others experienced in the field, rich with Biblical education, and well-versed in more complex issues help me. I am grateful for them. Their encouragement reminds me that what I am building is not my own kingdom. A good strategy is bringing in people from many different backgrounds and experiences to participate in God’s Kingdom so we can be better in the field than the evil out there.
Who are your social media accountability partners? Who are your mentors?
“Successful servants of the Lord have relied on the work of the spirit and intuitively understood how to frame their message to influence people to want to transform their lives and communities.”
– Intercultural Communication for Christian Ministry, 6% (kindle)
In this section, the book cautions us not to use knowledge for shallow and temporarily transformed communities, but reminds us that change is always the work of the Holy Spirit. For long-term change, a missionary must have a good prayer life.
I’m reminded of all the great books out there from self-help to strategies to elevate your online platform. We first must pray, then listen.
The book reminds us, “Christians who are committed to ministry are prone to be too quick to speak and too slow to listen. We rush in to answer the questions (assuming them to be the same as ours) before we know what questions our audience is asking. (5%, kindle)”
Before communities online can be transformed, we need to listen to their questions, know which ones to answer, and which ones can wait. Be their friend first. Let the Holy Spirit do His work via prayer.