Little Pink Houses or What Color is Your Roof?
Last week Theresa and I spent a wonderful week on a boat to Bermuda and back. We spent the week playing, laughing, and learning about the islands that make up Bermuda. On our first day in port, we jumped into a taxi cab and asked the driver to show us around, and tell us about his home. It was a great trip and Weldon, our driver, taught us a great deal about Bermuda, Bermudian culture, and what it is like to live on a series of islands.
Over the course of three hours we saw beaches, lighthouses, cities, countryside, and lots of houses. Bermudian homes are known for their bright colors (pink houses, blue houses, orange houses, you name it), and while no one paints their home the same color as their neighbor’s, each home has one striking unifying feature: the color of its roof.
Our guide eventually explained to us that roof of a Bermudian home serves two purposes: keeping out the elements, and collecting the home’s drinking water. Bermuda, having been formed by volcanic eruptions, has no naturally occurring source of fresh water. In order to survive, Bermudians learned early on how to collect rain water from their roofs, and began painting them white as a way to help keep them clean.
Last night in our coaching cohort we discussed the importance of understanding your context as you plant a church. Planting a church, like building a home, requires you to take the time to understand the unique cultural context of the area in which you are planting. Truly understanding the area in which you are planting takes more than just demographic studies: you need to understand who the players are, how things really work, and why people behave the way they do.
Planting a church in Madison, Wisconsin (home of the Freedom From Religion Foundation) in the same manner that you would plant a church in the Atlanta area would be about as foolish as using asphalt shingles on a house in Bermuda. Knowing the distinctives of your local context takes time and effort, but ultimately helps you plant a church that is far better equipped for Kingdom impact (for a couple of thoughts on how to better learn your context click here and here).
What makes YOUR cultural context unique?