I wanted to title this blog: "How NOT to reach out in multi-cultural ministry" with the subtitle: "Whatever you do, don't run classes teaching English!" My editor said it was too long.
Wisdom comes from good judgement. And good judgement comes from experience. And experience comes from bad judgement.
So as someone with a bit of "wisdom" in this area, let me pass on what I know to save you the pain.
Whatever you do, don't run English classes as a part of your evangelistic strategy to reach out to New Sydney (see my article from a few months ago for a definition.)
Yes, I know there are success stories out there where someone somewhere ran an English-teaching class at their church, and someone became a Christian. But a quick scan, even of last week's newspapers raises a preliminary thorny issue - integrity. For those who may have missed it, a certain Christian organization made front page of the newspapers for allegedly proselytizing under the guise of providing English lessons.
Many people from a non-English-speaking culture are more than willing to take on a free English lesson or English conversation practice with you.
However, as Christians, I think we must be upfront about what we're trying to do. If our intention is to share the good news of Jesus with them, we must be clear that that is the purpose, rather than surreptitiously sneaking it in the backdoor. (I wonder if those of us who do this lack the courage of our convictions that the wonderful message of God's grace is sufficient "draw" for people to come.)
My church ran an Easy English Bible Club a few years back.
We made it clear that our main aim was to read the Bible in English with those who might be interested. As a consequence, people's English would likely improve too.
It was very exciting, but unstable.
Some weeks, we had as many as 30 people come along. Other weeks, as few as 3. Even with the purpose stated as openly as we did, it was obvious that some were there to practice English, with no real interest in Christianity. Yet by God's grace, we did see some people come to Christ.
If you are thinking of something like this, I must warn you, it is hard, draining work. We found many who became Christians headed back to their home countries without the opportunity for a good grounding in Christian living basics, and sometimes without knowing where to find a Bible-teaching church near their home.
So, the title above may be provocative, but hopefully it provokes some creative ideas as to how we can reach New Sydney with integrity, without bringing shame on the God of truth that we serve.