Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Adapting Ministry Principles in a New Culture

One of the difficult aspects of ministry in Uganda is adapting ministry principles that you have learned in Canada into a Ugandan context. This past Saturday we had the Action Group (which is our student leadership team) over to our house for a day of training. I had the opportunity to train them in discipleship. One of the principles of discipleship is once you have selected someone to disciple, you need to give them a clear idea of the purpose of your discipleship. This would also include expectations from both sides involved. This way, if one of the parties stopped meeting the expectations, they could be called out on it. Then if they weren't able or wanting to continue, then you would know, and not waste time trying to meet with someone who was not interested in it anymore. 
One of our young leaders put up their hand to tell me that in Uganda, this may be too intimidating to come to someone you were just meeting with a list of expectations that they needed to agree to. As I thought about it, I realized that this would probably be true in Canada as well. But likely you are not challenging someone to discipleship if you have just met them. Usually, you would already know the person for a while, so that you could observe them, to see if they are Faithful, Available, and Teachable, which are qualities we look for in potential disciples. If you have spent time observing someone who shows qualities of someone ready for discipleship, then you should challenge them, and if they agree, go for it. But if they do not, then you move onto someone else who would be willing and wanting to be discipled. 
So when this young lady in the training session suggested that it may be to hard to give them expectations at the beginning, I had to think about whether this is a cultural thing, or whether she should really expect more from a potential disciple. In the end, I am still not sure. I told the students that they should take what I am teaching them, and apply it to the Ugandan context as they see fit. Personally, I think that there still needs to be a strong challenge at the beginning. I guess I will have to wait and see how things work out as these young leaders begin to challenge other students to be discipled. 
This is just one of many times I have wondered about the differences in ministry adaptation in a new culture. 

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