U - Understand your Culture.
Evangelism by its very nature is reaching out to people who are not a part of our Church Community. If their culture is ignored usually the same will happen to us along with our efforts to reach them for Jesus. This is why I believe understanding the ‘Culture’ of those you desire to reach is so crucial...including your Family.
The Macquarie Dictionary has a helpful part in its definition of 'Culture'. It states “the sum total of ways of living built up by a group of human beings, which is transmitted from one generation to another”. According to the Culture there are certain key elements (ways of living) that need to be identified and understood for our evangelism to be effective.
Remember I ended Part 3 Here, asking you to contemplate 'Ways of Living'? What have you come up with so far?
Whether we are part of the culture or not, key aspects firstly have to be identified then secondly understood. Ineffective evangelism can often be the result of poor understanding of Culture...yes, even your own understanding of your Families culture.
Some good questions to ask (both yourself and others within the chosen culture) are:
- What things are valued the most?
- How do people think?
- How do people learn new things?
- What are the characteristics of the culture?
- How can I embrace these in my evangelism?
- What primary methods of communication are used, both within and to those outside?
These are not meant to be an exhaustive group. They can be a good start. Come up with and modify to your specific situation.
Let me give an example. In my own direct family are 5 Children and 10 Grandchildren. We are of English decent through and through. However, two of my Sons married wonderful Filipino girls. Now this diversifies the culture indeed, not to mention each one is different in their own ways.
Why would I consider the overall culture and not just the culture of my particular family member I am focused on now? Simply because they will be influenced by the overall culture of the larger group. In, fact I believe the most 'powerful pathways' are those common to the larger group and your specific focus at the time.
I think this is an almost universal principal, the larger group influences, for good or bad, key aspects of the individuals involved.
So, bearing the previous in mind I asked these questions. I came up with lots of things, prioritizing the answers.
What things are valued the most?
Family, Family Time, Relaxation, Provision of Physical Needs
What are the characteristics of the culture? eg Cousin interaction at family get-together 's; Dare I say it; mobile phone fascination; Different Sports on the Weekend; and lot's of other things.
What are the major communication methods? We have a family WhatsApp
Then I did something very, very important. Don’t forget to do this step either! I confirmed my answers with some of my Family. Don't assume you know, just because your part of the culture yourself, bounce your answers off someone else within the culture as well. Doing this very simple thing will minimize problems, I assure you, later down the track.
These questions are just starters. Tailor them to your own situation. Ask questions that will help you understand the lifestyle. Ask yourself, then confirm it.
Let me give you a short Video with some different questions to ask. I will also provide a PDF below it for reference.
This Short Video is from my free course 'Chocolate Evangelism' (Link in Sidebar). Chocolate Evangelism is more general, but this particular Video is still very relevant as your 'Target Group' in this instance is your Family.
Watch the Short Video, Re-read the Blog Post and come up with a series of Questions that will help you truly understand your specific culture and cultures involved.
Next time, we will be talking about 'Living your Culture, Translating your Culture and using 'Powerful Pathways.