From time to time questions are sent regarding cultural shifts for a cross-cultural ministry. Wouldn't it be great to be able to share a cup of coffee with someone living overseas and just chat?
In a four-part series, here are recent questions that have been submitted for my viewpoint. Possibly others might benefit from the dialogue.
What degree of importance do you place on language/communication skills in Germany? How long did it take to learn German?
The importance of learning German cannot be overemphasized, in my opinion. Germans embrace foreigners only to the degree that people make a concerted effort to integrate into culture. A missionary should desire to speak the heart language of the host culture. It will be daunting and even discouraging - but we must simply get past ourselves and do the hard work of communicating effectively.
Is training indigenous leadership on your mission field different than training leadership in the USA?
In general, no, there are no differences in the methods nor doctrine that is given. The most effective training in my opinion in German culture will be much more time-consuming in that it must be intensive/thorough and relational.
Germans have a natural intellectual and inquisitive mindset which requires opportunity for Q and A. The system of training in this culture has shaped me to believe without formal training a person is not adequate to execute a responsibility.
Without the relational aspects, no lasting training can really occur. The old adage is true: no one cares how much you know, until they know how much you care. Love is spelled: T-I-M-E. It will require a deep investment of time.
Keith, originally from the desert of Phoenix, Arizona, has been planting a church in Aschaffenburg, Germany for over thirty years. Daughter churches have also been started and missionaries have been sent out of the congregation. Annually, he participates in encouraging other European church-planters and frequently travels to visit them in their respective field of service.