Culture is one of those buzzwords that gets thrown around a lot. Culture means “the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular people or society”. We are all part of a culture, whether we like it or not.

There are many different kinds of culture and they are often neither right or wrong, but can be very different from another culture. For example, if you grew up in a culture where people generally cook their own homemade food, it can feel very intimidating for someone to enter that culture who has perhaps, never cooked a day in their lives, unless it came from a box. So while making homemade food doesn’t earn me a special place in heaven, lording my cooking skills over someone less capable in that area, may result in a relationship fail with said person.

I often think about how the sheltered community that I grew up in had a difficult time reaching out and interacting with people from different cultures. We were just so different in so many ways that it was very difficult to span that chasm and find a common ground.

I’ve been challenged to ask God who He wants me to reach and how that affects my lifestyle. There can be small things that stand in the way of me being effective, or it can be big things that make a relationship nearly impossible.

Most of us know the story of Hudson Taylor, who dressed like the Chinese, including the long pigtail down his back, when he lived and worked in China as a missionary. When he looked like the people he was trying to reach, their walls came down, and they listened to his message of Jesus.

I have a friend in another state who loved dressing her family in color coordinating outfits for church. She did it for years. But when their family started getting into foster care, and rubbing shoulders with people on a different financial level than them, she suddenly realized how her perfect outfit coordination really made them look wealthy and on a higher social level. She ditched the plan in order to cross the lines of the culture and be more effective and on the same level as the people she was called to minister to.

When I look at our little church in the Kalona community, I often wonder how we could be more effective in reaching people. Are there blocks in our lives that we are blind to that put us on a different “playing field” from other people? I can’t answer that question for anyone but myself, and then only with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Have a great week and reach out to the culture that God has placed you in. God bless!

Wanda Stutzman