I am reading a great book, Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry by Paul David Tripp. One of the big points he makes is that the pastoral culture has become toxic. I see a ton of parallels in our missionary community.
Culture: Who ever thought that we missionaries had a culture, anyhow?
Everyone else has culture and we love to observe, participate, and study those curious cultures; but when have we ever stopped and taken a good look at the culture we have created for ourselves?
As a member of the missionary tribe for more than twenty years, this book made me scratch my head and start thinking about our culture.
Tripp stepped back from his pastoral role and took a hard look at his tribe’s culture. As he did, there were several things that he was able to observe that were common to those that were leaving or considering leaving the pastoral ministry. While there have been several studies of the reasons missionaries leave the field and ministry, none that I am aware of have delved into the missionary culture to consider its impact on tribe members.
So in the days ahead, let’s step back, get down from our pedestals and look into the mirror of God’s Word for guidance in discerning our tribe’s culture. We need to ask some hard questions, peak under some rocks and ferret out some answers. Who are we as a community of missionaries? What is this culture that is unseen but seeps into everything we think and do? Has this culture captured us and put us into places we didn’t want to occupy? How has our culture colored our ministry? What has our culture done to our personal relationship with God and fellow man?
Hey missionary tribe! I don’t want to do this alone.
We need one another if we really want to face the famous “prison of our culture” as Dr. Sherwood Lingenfelter has identified it. In the days ahead, I want to take a look at our culture and how it has shaped us. Will we find some things in common with the pastors that Tripp writes about? I think we will, but we will also see some unique things that come with the cross-cultural context. We might just find some things that can improve the effectiveness and lives of both missionaries and the people we serve.
So please chime in here, leave a comment or send us an email and as a tribe let us look into that mirror together.
Want to read the book? You can order it here. (affiliate link)
Dangerous Calling: Confronting the Unique Challenges of Pastoral Ministry