As I mentioned over at my preaching blog, I went to Trinidad and Tobago to preach an installation service for my good friend Roddie Taylor as bishop of the numerous churches he has borne in his 25 years of pastoral ministry. Whereas I usually go for a week or longer, I only stayed from the evening of the 20th until the morning of the 23rd. Yet, even with this short trip, God showed me some interesting things that I feel compelled to share.
Americans do not have a corner on how to do church. In fact, we could learn some things from other faithful Christians in other cultures.
I have shared here that Trinis are more animated in every way in their worship, but I do not mean this categorically in a good way, for that can be as much out of tradition as much as our lack of animation. Having said that, their reaction to their Savior and the preaching of the Word and the praises to God through music that, for many, would take some getting used to. But it matches what’s happening and what’s being said. From a preacher’s standpoint, their participation helps propel and fuel the preaching out of a sense that what is being communicated is landing.
So I contend it’s a mistake to go to other cultures to Americanize their times of worship, as of God calls all peoples everywhere to be Americans as much as devout followers of Christ. This is not only misguided, it robs us of the blessing of the variety God has placed among the cultures of His imagebearers.
This translates to our cultures as well. We can force the culture of a certain era or section of the country on our own, seeing it as infallible, rather than looking to understand where and when we are now and serve as missionaries to our neighbors and not just other nations.
I was flooded with wonderful memories of previous trips from my former church, for which I am grateful.
I was pastor at Boone’s Creek Baptist Church outside of Lexington, Kentucky for eight years (2003-2011) and took four teams to minister in Trinidad. VBSes, construction, crusades, church planting helps, and various other ministries were accomplished. We developed bonds that can only be forged on a mission trip for Christ.
In the whirlwind of God changing ministries from Kentucky to Colorado, I had little time to really process the change. Much ink is spilled over churches going through a change of pastors, even a grieving process that manifests itself in anger, sadness, loss, and even betrayal.
Yet pastors go through this as well. Transitions seem on the surface seem to happen so quickly when in reality in the private moments there is some anguish and fear and bewilderment as to what God is up to. Then sharing that with family, especially the children who will have to leave school and friends–goodness!!
This is where my thankfulness for the doctrine of the sovereignty of God in all things holds us up. God has His ways and He crafts our hearts to His. I can say that I wouldn’t trade the times at Boone’s Creek for anything in the world and I am grateful that God provides memories that I can draw on. He allowed me to serve some great people there and is allowing to serve great people now.
That is plenty for now. As I continue to process, I will share more.