I Know Enough to Know I Don’t Know
I’m an American, doggone it! I was a youth minister at a megachurch for over a decade. I’ve been to dozens of other megachurches. I’m currently an elder at a megachurch. For the past five years, I’ve worked with a mission agency that plants churches in Europe. I think I know how to plant and grow a church! (I think I know a lot of things.)
However, when I cross the Atlantic, I find I don’t know anything. I can barely get around the airport. It’s difficult to order a meal. I can’t figure out why Germans are so paranoid about the internet or why the French waiters think they know how I like my food better than I know how I like my food. I don’t know why Romanians will tell me as the church service is starting that they expect me to speak…a message…at the service they are currently beginning. I don’t know why eastern Europeans are averse to fresh air coming into a stuffy room. But this I do know: if I don’t understand those situations, I surely don’t know how best to plant a church over there!
Even if I learn a given country’s language (or languages), do I really think I’m an expert on the cultural nuances? I can still pull a quality cultural faux pas in America after living here for fifty years. Should I really be leading a team over in Europe? For example, should I join a team of Americans going over to Ukraine to plant a Ukrainian church?
Kontaktmission can save me from my own hubris. If I go to, say, Albania to be a missionary, KM will put me on a team with real live Albanians! Those Albanians will make sure I learn to speak Albanian (Shqip) the way they speak it in that region. They will also lead me through their cultural maze, rather than allowing me to assume I can figure it out or that somebody will just tell me if I’m being awkward. This will get me speaking and acting more like nationals much quicker and with fewer public mistakes. It will allow the culture of the church to be, well, Albanian.
It’s comforting to know that even though I know enough to know I don’t know enough, I know I can have teammates who do know what I need to know.
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