This reminds me of something I’ve heard Pastor Rick Warren say numerous times – “You can reach people you can relate to.”
One of the challenges of being a missionary is discovering ways to relate to those who live near you, and to both show and tell them the message of hope in Jesus Christ. Increasing your awareness of who God has placed around you is critical.
Again, I’d like to take a look at Pemco Insurance and how they understand the culture around them.
1. They don’t expect everyone to be the same. They realize that people are unique and different, yet they also emphasize those things people in the Pacific Northwest share in common.
2. They use large doses of humor to help people to not take themselves too seriously.
3. They are inclusive – creating a community that includes a wide variety of unique individuals and allows for innovative opportunities for social networking.
4. They’ve found creative and innovative ways to share what they understand about those in the culture around them.
Here are a couple of radio spots that also capture Pemco’s understanding of the Pacific Northwest Culture.
In order to be effective in connecting the gospel message to specific people, write your own profiles of those who live around you. Consider these four areas of life…
+ What are their hopes, aspirations, fears and problems?
+ What aspects of the gospel do they grasp?
+ What is their collective story?
+ Where are there tensions/pressure points in view?
+ What symbols/myths function deeply?
+ What is the economic level? educational level?
+ What is the social structure?
+ What do they worship? how do they worship?
+ How are churches engaging people?
+ What ministry models seem to be effective?
Discovering the answers to these questions involves “hanging out” with people and enjoying them, while at the same time being very intentional in asking questions to probe these areas above. After some “informal interviews” – use the data to write your own profile.
Then, think of ways (like Pemco) to…treat people as unique, but emphasize what you have in common, use humor appropriately as you communicate, create an inclusive community, and share your understanding with others.