Developing Spiritual & Cultural Competencies through Relationship
Most of us are busy. We go to work. We volunteer. We go to school. We do yard work. We have family and bills and church activities. We sleep, eat, and then the next day, we get up and do it all over again. We naturally develop a set of norms that help give us a sense of stability and comfort in our lives. Some of us could map out most of our own cultural norms by looking in our refrigerators, our bank statements, or in our daily schedules. But how do you learn about someone else’s cultural norms and why would you want to?
In our ministry updates, we’ve looked at simple ways to begin thinking about multi-ethnic and cross-cultural ministry. God is relational and through conversation with God, both in prayer and spending time in the Bible, our lives are transformed to reflect more of Christ and less of ourselves.
What do Christ-like competencies look like? Colossians 3:12-14 answers, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
What about cultural competencies? How do we love our neighbor as ourselves (Luke 10:27), when our neighbor is outside our cultural norms? Loving our neighborhood is relational work, but the more we spend time getting to know people, the more competent we become, both in word and deed, at building bridges that bring glory to God.
More thoughts to consider…
1. Start simple. Go with a friend to a restaurant that serves the ethnic food of their heritage and ask questions about their culture. Set aside any pre-conceived ideas you have and listen.
2. Volunteer with an organization outside your comfort zone. Become familiar with your surroundings. Shop at the local stores and eat at local restaurants in the neighborhood so that you can learn the culture. Learn the street names, school names, and apartment complex names. Go to community events and keep informed about current events.
3. Find a mentor. Look for someone who has been where you hope to go, someone who can help you learn a language, give you a historical view of their region, or help you bridge cultural differences through teaching and prayer.