(I am going to apologize in advance of this post. To be blatantly honest, I have been working on our church auditorium remodel every day for the past two weeks, and though it is nearly finished, it has taken a toll on my reading. I have rushed through this week’s post, and have thus, not included as much side research as I would have liked).
So I must admit something else this week; when I first saw the title of this week’s reading, I literally rolled my eyes at it. Once again, I find another book on “business” in my evangelism class. However, I have also really been trying to allow myself to realize that the modern-day church can still learn from modern day business, and therefore, I searched for something to educate me. I am happy to report, I was not as disappointed as I feared I would be; in fact, I found one particular chapter to be very relevant to a few of the discussions we have held in my bible classes lately. Primarily, it was the chapter titled, “How much respect do you want?” When the very first line of the chapter began with, “What does a good boss look like?” I was intrigued.
Before I continue from this point of the text, I should share a conversation I had a few months back with a woman who does NOT attend our church. As soon as she heard that I was a minister, she referred to me as “Pastor Shawn.”
My reply was simple; “Just Shawn is fine…after all, we are all in this together.”
Her reply however was, “No, no, I want to show you respect…so I shall call you, Pastor Shawn.”
My reply: “If you really want to show me respect, please don’t call me Pastor…it is a title that is highly abused and misused around this town…Please just call me Shawn.”
Well, “Shawn” it was. However, she seemed agitated for the rest of the conversation; so agitated that I had to further instruct her on why the term “pastor” was not a word we used around our church. The fact is that many of the clergy in Roseburg have abused the use of “pastor” so much, that when they use it, it sounds as snooty as rich people talking down to homeless children. So we have discussed how we as Christian leaders and even, just good old Christians, really want to be seen by those we are hoping to teach the gospel to.
Okay…so back to the topic at hand. The chapter continues to address what the reader would picture as the perfect leader; including descriptions from clothing labels, gender, automobile selection, and yes…title. The chapter further compared the various perceptions regarding a highly successful supervisor that had relocated from Denmark to Saint Petersburg; not only the perceptions made by “Jepsen” with his new staff; but also how the new staff view him. The problem discovered was that there were significant cultural gaps between the two locations, and thus, significance in their interpretations of good leadership.
For me, I could not help but see how, even within our own cohort, this problem persists. The concept of culture emanates throughout every fiber of this program; creating “gaps” throughout this entire process; however, it also provides opportunity for learning from others who do not share the same views that we have become accustomed to. As I look at my own opportunities to become a more effective minister, I am often slapped around with the reality that not everyone sees things exactly the way that I do (I know…shocking). So below are the three most prevalent ‘gaps’ I have perceived just within our own cohort, which may help or hinder us from becoming more effective evangelists.
- The literal culture gap: We have students and professors living in or residing from the United States, China, France, and Canada. Furthermore, even though the majority is from the US, they do not reside in the same states; thus, even their cultures vary. As a man that has lived in 16 different states in his life, believe me when I say that all states are not the same.
- The spiritual culture gap: Even more aggressive in our beliefs regarding spiritual matters, we find ourselves divided over doctrines, creeds, and the signs located over the door. We have representatives from the Catholic movement, the Reformation movement, and the Restoration movement…and those are just the ones that I am familiar with. If we were to track origins, we would see that each group holds different leaders in high regard, and they probably even recognize different historical chapters in their own group’s evolution. In addition to all of those, this particular division also provides a division in biblical interpretation, which many of us struggle with letting go of.
- The personal culture gap: This gap is a result of the life that we have lived outside of, or even including our spiritual relationship to Christ. It is our perception of how things should be in the world that we believe is acceptable. It could divide us based upon gender, race, upbringing, politics, or financial status. Lately, our congregation has had a number of discussion regarding the new abortion laws being passed in some of the states; the discussion are not positive. However, someone else in our program may have entirely different views due to the fact that they have encountered something or someone in their life that has influenced them on the subject.
So what is the point? Well, it draws me back to the first question in this chapter… “How much respect do you want?”
Well, as we all are seeking a “Doctor of Ministry” degree, I guess this question really resonated with me; after all, I really could care less about the title, but rather, I hope to teach college bible someday, and figured this was a good stepping stone. “But how much respect do I want?” Do I want respect from my peers as one of my Master’s degree professors taught me, “To impress them with how knowledgeable I am”? Do I want respect in “title” by making everyone call me “Dr. Hart,” because it makes me look important? Do I want respect with money; deciding with my higher education my church should HAVE to pay me more…because I have earned it?
Well, actually, I don’t want any of those things. My desire as an evangelist is that people will see the love of God that exists in me as I try to share with them the gospel. The reading suggested that “symbolic gestures can send important signals about the style of leadership you practice.” The apostle Paul taught Timothy to “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Furthermore, he wrote to the Corinthian church, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” And then, again to Timothy he taught, “But be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” That is the evangelist I hope to be.
I will not lie; I have absolutely no use for books on business…NONE. It is just not me; never has been. However, I know that Mark and Dr. Jason are both passionate about the role that business can have on ministry. Because of that fact, I realize that to connect with them, I may have to go over myself and try to understand what is important to them in order for me to truly have an opportunity at winning them to Christ (an example…I know they both know Jesus). We have to understand the cultures of others because they can be the most difficult barriers to conquer if we hope to teach the gospel to others.
Meyer, Erin. The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business.New York: Public Affairs, 2014.
Meyer, Erin. The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business. New York: Public Affairs, 2014. P. 115.
Ibid, p. 118.
Ibid, p. 133.
2 Timothy 2:15.
1 Corinthians 11:1.
I Timothy 4:12.