They speak English in Australia so it can’t be THAT different here, can it? Let’s just take the grocery store as an example… the one place I seem to have breakdowns. I’m handling the adjustment to living in a foreign country pretty well all things considered. But, when I go to the grocery store, I find myself frustrated and overwhelmed at all of the things that are different. You know, the ones that make no sense. Why do they individually wrap cucumbers with plastic and call them Telegraph and Continental cucumbers? Is that the same as the cucumbers I buy in Texas?
Where is the orange cheddar cheese? I have yet to see it ANYWHERE in ANY STORE on ANY ISLE. However, you can buy white “Tasty Cheese” in blocks, shredded, grated, low-fat, low salt, every brand. The eggs aren’t refrigerated and can be found next to the bread. Kids drink cordial, not Kool-Aid. Cilantro is called Coriander and we measure in kilos, not pounds. You can’t find coffee for a drip coffee maker and biscuits are cookies. Scones are biscuits and they are served with jam, not gravy. Wholemeal bread is wheat bread and it has taken me three months to find one my kids like, similar to “American bread.” You won’t find an isle labeled “Mexican” but you WILL find huge sections of isles with Indian and Asian foods, spices, and noodles! Pepperoni pizza is hard to come by, but pizza with prawns is not. Oh, and that is shrimp, if you’re wondering. Juice boxes are poppers. And, you must always have a one or two dollar gold coin on hand for the shopping carts.
So, needless to say, I get a little stressed out walking in circles with toddlers in grocery stores while trying to find simple ingredients or substitutes for ingredients for dishes I’m trying to cook. My frustration comes from a lack of familiarity and also a deep down arrogance that believes MY WAY IS THE RIGHT WAY! Whenever I find myself saying, “Why do THEY do it this way?” Or, “This makes no sense the way THEY have organized the layout of the store.” THEY being Australians.
Over and over, I’m faced with the reality that My Way isn’t necessarily the Right Way. It’s A WAY I’m comfortable with but it doesn’t mean it’s the Best Way.
These difficult grocery store moments make me see our church through a different lens.
I can look at everything I feel is the “right way” to do church, “my way,” and ask with a genuine spirit, “Is this God’s way?” Is this the way we can bring the most glory to our Lord? Are we making the pathway clear for those who don’t yet know Him?
I often sit in churches I’m visiting and wonder, “How did this become “The Way” we do church?” Over time, I guess trends develop and people get used to certain things. Our tastes, so to speak, are aligned and we like a certain flavour so we stick with it. We expect this denomination to worship this way and that denomination to worship that way.
I want to be the kind of pastor who isn’t afraid to shake things up a bit. I want to ask the question, “Why?” and to throw in the towel on Sacred Cows if they aren’t helping us move toward the vision God has given us. I want to be willing to see things through someone else’s eyes and lay down my pride in moments where my idea isn’t the best one to help us reach our goal.
I want to keep the shoppers in mind as we plan our signage and always make it easy to ask questions. It will be ok if the gold coin was left at home; and, Jesus can work with whatever ingredients someone brings to the table.