A Rural Pastor’s Thoughts on Cultural Sensitivity in Pastoral Ministry
Effective ministry requires understanding cultural context. This is true for Paul in ancient Athens, Hudson Taylor in 19th century China, and the pastor of the “little brown church in the dale.”
Many well-intentioned pastors and missionaries have squandered their opportunities and efforts through cultural insensitivity. Urban or rural, Northern or Southern, domestic or foreign; each has distinctives that it idealizes and cherishes. The Gospel messenger is wise to acknowledge, observe, and (where possible) adapt to these cultural distinctives.
Part of the beauty of the Gospel (and Biblical truth in general) is its trans-cultural nature. Its elemental truths transcend cultural boundaries and translate, without change, into every “language, tribe, tongue, kindred, and people.”
In fact, the elements of the Gospel that are trans-cultural determine what is essential to our message. Anything that is merely cultural is non-essential. While culture cannot determine my message, it certainly affects how I share the message. My culture can also influence how I minister to those who receive the Gospel.
In upcoming posts (at the encouragement of fellow pastor and blogger, Tony Sisk) I hope to share my thoughts on this concept of pastoral ministry, particularly as it applies to the rural culture in which I minister and live. I look forward to sharing and hearing your thoughts on this subject as well.