Living in an Inter-Cultural World

A number of weeks ago I a spent a day with a group of pastor’s from southern California. Most of our time was spent listening to stories of what God was doing.

As the day progressed I became increasingly fascinated by the diversity around the table.
· A Korean pastor
· An Indonesian pastor and his wife
· A couple of ethnic Mennonites
· A Swedish pastor with a strong French accent
· An African pastor
· Some denominational staff

Near the end of our time together, the Swedish pastor raised his hands in frustration and said, “you people need to learn how to use simple English.”

Those around the table for whom English was a second language all nodded in agreement.

My initial reaction to this exchange was that we need to provide programs that help recent immigrants better understand North American English Culture.

The more I thought about this the more uncomfortable I became with the arrogance of my thinking. Is the solution to all miscommunication teaching people to think like me? I hope not.

Finding ways to communicate across multiple cultures will not be easy. How do we train for this? How do we conduct meetings when multiple cultures are represented? Is it possible to have a group of inter-cultural friends? Can church happen in an inter-cultural setting? I hope so.

To be honest, I am not sure how we arrive at a place where inter-cultural appreciation and understanding is normal. That is where I want to end up. It is certainly the kind of world I want my boys to live in.

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Filed under communication, culture, diversity, language, mennonite, simple english

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