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    Wednesday, June 27, 2012

    Missional Ministry in Paris (Part Deux)

     Recently, I interviewed a Missional Pastor about his work in Paris France and on their experience of living in another culture.  This Missional Pastors name I interviewed is Tim Meier who part of the C&MA (the denomination I am a part of).   Tim is a friend of mine going back to our days together as youth pastors in the Metro District of the C&MA, in fact, I was working alongside him at a district retreat when he told me of God’s call to go to France, so I was excited to get the chance to interview him for this this blog. This is question #2, Tim's answer and my commentary. (See Part one here: Missional Ministry in Paris)

    2. What are the 3 hardest things presented by French culture that has caused you some "culture shock"?

    I guess the hardest part of France is that it looks and seems a lot like the US on the surface but underneath everything is different. So, the first answer would be the "tilted world" that is France. It's like you take the US and tilt it on its' access. So, it's not a complete difference like Africa, but it is so different that if you don't realize the challenge, you die.

    The second major culture shock has been the way to do life. Actually, after 4 years, it's hard to remember some of these things but just "doing life" is so different. We eat dinner much later than the US and those dinners last 2-3 (maybe 4) hours with tons of discussion. People aren't as pressed to get anywhere or to get to work. People work to live, not the other way around, so family, conversation, and friendships are a priority.

    I guess another major challenge was the lack of any sort of customer service. It can take 6 weeks to get internet and no one seems to care. Anyone can go on strike at anytime and it's just totally accepted because of the value of "worker's rights." So, the idea of being pampered or treated well all the time simply doesn't happen. That took a while to get used to, but once you do, it's not that big of a deal.

       Tim’s answer to my second question was one that really stuck and caused me to challenge my own assumptions not of just French culture, but of the College culture I am beginning to immerse myself into as a College church planter.  I have my own assumptions about this group and this plant.  I know that I will be sorely wrong in some areas of my assumptive reasoning.

      Tim said of the hardest things in French culture: “I guess the hardest part of France is that it looks and seems a lot like the US on the surface but underneath everything is different” (Meier, 2012).  When he said that, I felt kind of stupid because I had assumed myself that France was very similar to the US and only slightly different due to language and some minor cultural differences.  Tim went into France thinking it was very similar only to find it was extremely different.

      In ministry, it's all too easy to assume we know what's going on, only to find we are way off the mark.  Being in missional ministry, (a ministry that seeks to meet people where they are more than attract them in) causes one to be a bit more knowledgeable about the culture or group one is trying to reach.  Tim spent two years acclimating himself to the culture and language and still had some small assumptions.

    In your current ministry, what are some assumptions you had that ended up being wrong?

    Next post, we will look at the Gospel, it's presentation and the effectiveness thereof in the French culture, so stay tuned!!!


    Anonymous said...

    great post Marvin. I agree with Tim's views on the differences and challenges of cross cultural living and serving in France. I would imagine everyone attempting to ministry in a different culture (whether geographically or contextually) will face similar struggles and learn adaptation over time. blessings on your work with the college sub cultural

    Marv Nelson said...

    Thanks Dan! Yeah, after going through Tim's answers to my questions, I can't imagine how tough the integration would be. He seems well adjusted now and I know God is using him greatly. I should chat with you sometime too, always helpful to have good cross-cultural discussions