Central Baptist Church of Southington Connecticut


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Don’t Be An Outsider

  • Jim Townsley
  • Feb 29, 2016
Starting a church in a region of the country that has a different culture than where you grew up has many unique challenges. Understanding the community in which you live and blending in with its ways and customs is critical to gaining the respect of the local people. Developing an appreciation and even a love for the local people and their culture is imperative to a successful ministry. A failure to love your community will result in a failure of your community loving you.
Consider some of the following examples of cultural differences. In some Southern communities the direct and sometimes terse approach of a Northerner can result in a church planter remaining an outsider for many years. A Southerner that tries to southernize a northern community will probably find a resistant community that will not respond to the gospel message. Prejudices do exist and though many times they may be unfair it still is important to recognize that they do exist.
Church planters will find there are regional differences of cultures in the inner city, the country, the North, The South, the West, the Midwest, the suburbs, the affluent, and the poor. Each society will have certain behaviors that you must identify and to which you must respond properly. This issue is not a matter of right and wrong or of truth and error. It simply is a matter of local tradition, and in order to reach a particular community it is important to understand how they think and how they behave.
The nineteenth and twentieth centuries experienced a flood of immigrants from Europe that were primarily Italian, Polish, Irish, and French. Today ethnic communities are springing up all over the United States. Each of these people groups are identified with various foods, clothing, music, and relationships. Modern America is being flooded by Hispanics, Eastern Europeans, people from the Far East, and even Africa. The mission field is literally coming to America from all over the world! To a certain extent many of these people groups are becoming somewhat Americanized, but each still proudly display many aspects of their previous culture. These new immigrants needs someone to love them enough to reach them with the gospel. The church must not fail at this task.
The old fashioned gospel still works and these people can still be reached. No man need compromise his standards or beliefs in order to reach them. However, it is important to love and respect their culture. It is always inappropriate to tell ethnic jokes about them or to make fun of their religious background. These tactics will only alienate them from the truth and hinder the outreach of the church.  
Whether your region of the country is the Bible belt, liberal, Catholic, Lutheran, progressive or conservative you must learn to love your community and learn how to best reach them with the gospel. God in His mercy has given you the opportunity to minster the Word of God and represent the gospel to your needy community. Don’t remain an outsider to your mission field.