Singing those cross-cultural communication blues


I remember the day the brickies (bricklayers) turned up. I was working as a builder's labourer so our family could eat and pay the rent while we planted our second church.

It was a lesson in cross-cultural communication. They were from a different planet. They spoke a different language. I was a private school boy with manners. They were real Aussies with pornographic tattoos long before tattoos became a fashion statement.

That's why I find it hard not to smile when someone asks, "Will this approach to making disciples "work" in Australia?" My answer is always, "Which Australia?"

That's the point of a postmodern view of the world. Fragmented.

I can show you ten different Australias within half an hour's drive of my home.

Three things to remember.

1. It's not always your fault. Sometimes we think that if only we had found the key to cross cultural communication, people would respond.

Jesus went home to his friends and family and they tried to throw him over a cliff. They ran Paul out of town, beat him and left him for dead. For many people, the message of the Cross is offensive. Keep moving and find the people who are ready to learn more.

2. Confidence in the Word and Spirit. There is something greater than the cultures and experiences that divide us. Whenever we connect with people and share the gospel, God is powerfully present.

3. Find a bridge. I have a friend who has spent the last decade sparking church planting movements in Asia. He speaks the local language fluently. He knows and loves the culture. He knows he will always be an outsider. His job is to find insiders and equip them to reach their world.

Which he does, and they do.