This month Geneva Push is turning its attention to culture. Not the tea-cup and crumpet kind, but the social glue that keeps people together. Writing for business organisations, this is how Edgar Schein put it,
“Culture is the deeper level of basic assumptions and beliefs that are shared by members of [a group], that operate unconsciously and define in a basic ‘taken for granted’ fashion [a group's] view of its self and its environment.”
God's word will always harden some even as it softens others, but understanding the cultures we are preaching the Gospel to is essential if we're to avoid human barriers getting in the way of the good news. Cultures are possibly easiest to identify when we're dealing with ethnic groups, but even then we can make the mistake of thinking that one group of migrants is very much like another. And once we've identified our audience's 'basic assumptions and beliefs', we still have the challenging task of working out the most central places to connect, and the best ways to communicate with them.
Which is where this month's special collection comes in…
We've assembled a range of culture-conscious resources which we hope will help you start your own indepth consideration of the cultures that make up your part of the field:
- Reflecting on the homogenous unit principal – David Williams from CMS looks into the origins of the Homogenous Unit Principle and asks if it is an appropriate guide for planting multicultural churches in Australia.
- Asian culture is not mono-culture – A great place to begin, especially for those with a significant Asian population in their patch. Scott Sanders picks the eyes from Peter Ko's brilliant analysis of the varied levels of Chinese culture.
- What to do with more than one culture – Double the expertise, one talk. Geneva Push's Scott Sanders leads a discussion with ethnic church planter Peter Ko and the Church Missionary Society's David Williams about designing successful congregations and services that embrace more than one culture.
- Accessing women's culture – (Posting soon!) Understanding gender culture within cultures. Church planter Cathie Heard discusses the difficulties associated with breaking into feminine culture when you begin work in a new area. She shares the key places she discovered for connecting with women, techniques for imbibing local culture, and methods for progressing beyond just having conversations about the kids.
- Developing a culture that connects with culture – How do you train your church to be culturally aware? Andrew Heard discusses the importance of understanding the culture surrounding your church, as well as developing a culture that continues to offer the distinctives of the Gospel.
- Creating a culture of mission – Church planter Connan O'Shea follows up with the steps he's taken to foster a culture of mission to unite and enthuse the members of his congregation.
- Saturday EV Church – Tim Baldwin finishes off with a practical consideration of the steps he took to develop EV Saturday Night Church, a plant out of EV Church aimed at a sub-culture of NSW's Central Coast.
Thoughtful contributions for whatever cultural challenge you face!