When we talk about missions, one of the key catch phrases is ministering to the cultures. Most often we think of culture as referring to people in a different land who speak a different language or to subsets of different people who may live in the same country. We are taught to “learn the culture,” to “understand the culture,” etc., so that we can be effective in reaching those who are part of a particular culture.
We also are prone to let ourselves develop the idea that missions is something we do “somewhere else.” But what about those “cultures” right around us? One might say, “What cultures?”
I am so glad you asked. What cultures exist around us in our association? Well, there are:
-those in jail
- up and out
-down and out
All just to name a few. Then we can talk about:
-Hispanics (and to be helpful here, not all Hispanics are Mexicans. There are Guatemalans, Puerto Ricans, Hondurans, El Salvadorans, etc, and not all of them actually work well together. Can you believe that?)
Again, just to name a few.
Now, read carefully what comes next. There are folks who will spend a thousand…. two thousand dollars or more to go to a foreign country to engage people group (AND I AM NOT SAYING THIS IS BAD!), but who never think about engaging people groups or cultures locally.
Think about this. If a church sends 10 people to a foreign culture on a short term mission trip for two weeks at a cost of $1,500.00 each, even I can figure that is $15,000.00. The work they do will be good for the Kingdom, no doubt about it. What if for one year that one trip was not taken and that same amount of money was invested in ministering to one or more local “cultures” like those listed above? Those same dollars could conceivably last for a couple of years or more. Can you imagine the impact this could make on a local church to have their people engaged in the local community? Potentially enormous, right?
This leads me to another question. Is the reason more folks are not involved in local missions that we are more infatuated with the “romance” of missions than the “work” of missions?
Just a thought…..