Monday, May 08, 2006


Hong Kong continues to surprise me. We've been here almost a year and I continue to realize how little I know and understand of this eclectic culture. Today we went to TST to do some shopping, an area we've been many times before. Only this time was different. I think it's partly because I was thinking about the whole Cultural Intelligence discussion and partly beacause I stumbled into two new areas I hadn't seen before. I hadn't seen them because I'd never gone underground to that part of the city. It's nice to live somewhere that can surprise you daily. It made me think of the people here and how little I have done to look below the surface of their lives.
I just started reading Dave Livermore's new book, Serving with Eyes Wide Open and it's been good for me to re-evaluate some of my attitudes and perceptions of ministry here.
One of the things he discusses is the American perception of the typical Christian vs. the typical Christian in the world. Dave comments that the Western church is no longer the center and trendsetter of Christianity in the world."
I've come face to face with some harsh realities of my ministry style here recently. While I feel that our relationships with our kids are deepening, there seems to be an ongoing spiritual disconnect. The truth is, I have tried very much to lead a youth ministry based on models and ideas of Christianity and ministry that worked well in the states. But Christianity is different here. Perceptions of God aren't the same. The word "relationship" means different things. Plurality is more about synthesizing God into a secular view of life than it is about synthesizing various gods into one worldview.
I have tried hard to serve well here. But I've done it within the framework of western Christianity. It's hard not to when Hong Kong in many ways is so intensely western. I'm stepping back, yet again, trying to slow things down and look more closely at what it means to breathe love, life, peace and truth into lives here. As God opens my eyes, I look forward to seeing some new layers in our new home culture, and in my own life as well.
It's exciting to see the potential. I believe we are just getting started and God is opening our eyes to a whole new way of thinking about ministry, cultural awareness and success. I wonder what it will be like to look back ten years from now as I comment how ignorant I was?



Blogger David Livermore said...

Thanks for your honest evalutation into this Mike. This is timely for me because I'm enroute to spending a few days with some youth workers who minister in lots of different places around the world. Our topic--how do you "contextualize" youth ministry.

What I really appreciate about your reflections on this is that contextualizing youth ministry is more than figuring out how a game will work in a given context or what Bible study methods will fly locally. You're taking it to a whole new step by thinking about the profound implications culture has upon how we view spirituality, our faith, and God.

Keep blogging about this for the sake of all of us. Thanks for your kindness in considering my writing etc. And thanks even more for serving students and families in HK!

3:16 AM  

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