A pastor was called to be guest preacher at a church. He knew this church was different when the congregation ended every line of the hymn with the shout of “yeehah!” As he stood to preach, he noticed that people were spread out on the pews. He would see a person, then a space, then another person, and another space. He wondered why nobody sat next to another person, when he noticed on the pew beside each person was a cowboy hat.
Another time this same preacher was invited to a new church in the city. He was surprised to see that everybody there looked like they had fallen face first into a tackle box, because they had piercings and earrings on every part of the body imaginable. A rock band was playing alternative music on the stage.
As different as these two churches were, they were both growing and reaching people for Christ.
Years ago I was pastor of a country church in the backwoods of Mississippi. We would say this church was in the “sticks.” It was a small Baptist church, and there was another Baptist church just five miles away in the town (population 600). The pastor’s wife at the town church told me, “Why don’t our two churches merge?” I said, “There are people in my church who would not feel comfortable or fit in at your town church.” She said, “Oh, come on. We’re a small town church. What could be so different?” I said, “Well, I got one really big woman in my church who, when she gets to feeling an itch, she pulls her dress halfway up and she scratches herself.” The eyes of this pastor’s wife got really big and she said, “I see what you mean.” I forgot to tell her about another woman in my church who saw a roach running across the wood floor, so she stomped on it with her bare foot, laughed and shouted, “Aha! I got him!” Yep, the culture was definitely different where I was pastor.
Jesus upset the religious establishment because He crossed cultural barriers. He loved to eat with tax collectors and Gentiles and other strange people. Jesus walked into the land of Samaria, full of half-breed Jews who worshiped in weird ways and talked different and smelled different. Jesus walked right up to a Samaritan woman at a well and started talking her language. He accepted her culture, but he let her know her sinful lifestyle had to change. Soon she had the whole town following Jesus (see John 4).
So what cultural barrier is keeping somebody in your community from hearing the gospel? If you tear down the cultural barriers to share Christ in your neighborhood, you may hear the angels shouting, “Yeehah!”
Copyright 2008 by Bob Rogers. Read this column each Friday for a mix of religion and humor. For more “Holy Humor,” visit the Web page of First Baptist Church of Rincon at www.fbcrincon.com.