How do we form healthy, Christ-centered communities with people from vastly different cultures? And how does the gospel bring us together when our languages and cultural norms tend to separate us? We discuss these questions and more in this episode with Todd Blackhurst, pastor of Taichung International Fellowship. Hear Todd share some of the challenges and joyful discoveries on his journey in building a multicultural church.
Listen as Todd shares his eye-opening experience with different cultural power dynamics and practical lessons he has learned for building deeper cross-cultural connections.
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Join us in conversation about this topic at the TheoTech Forums!
Taichung International Fellowship’s website
Links to things mentioned in this episode:
spf.io, an event translation and accessibility software.
Chris: Hi everyone, this is Chris Lim with the TheoTech podcast. I’m really excited today to be joined by Pastor Todd Blackhurst of Taichung International Fellowship in Taiwan. Pastor Todd, thanks for joining us today.
Todd: Thanks Chris. It’s really good to be on the program and to have this opportunity to talk with you.
Chris: Pastor Todd, could you tell us more about how you got called to be a pastor for Taichung?
Todd: Sure. Well originally I and my family moved to Taiwan to Taichung specifically to be missionaries and we were working alongside of the local Baptist Church. It’s Taichung First Baptist Church.
The city is pretty large. It’s about 2.8 million people. It’s spread out a lot of places and there’s a good number of expats and foreigners. And as I was learning Chinese, I realized that there were a lot of people who are having trouble getting around the culture.
So I started a blog, basically a small website to help people process. If you lived here and you didn’t speak Chinese, how could you get around in the culture. Through that process, I met a lot of other expats who lived here from different countries and cultures who were either working, studying here, with their families on assignment just various different reasons and some of them are Christians. Some of them are not. But they were not going to learn Chinese other than just a very basic level. So it was really hard for them to find or join a church to participate in. So I and one of my friends that I had gotten to know thought, well, we could start something. We actually didn’t plan to start a church.
We originally were just going to have a worship service. He was going to lead the music and I was going to preach. I have some background back in the States of preaching and I love to do that and we thought well just gather people together and that will be it.
Some people go eat together afterwards and we started with about 20 people and over the past three years that 20 people has grown too close to 200 people. Wow! So we have a church now and it was a little bit unexpected, but actually it’s been one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.
Chris: That’s an incredible growth rate 10x in three years.
Todd: Yeah, it can only be explained by God’s favor and grace.
Chris: You mentioned that there are even non-christians who only spoke English who wanted to find a church. What’s the story there?
Todd: Well, I think when you move abroad, especially to a culture where you’re really an outsider, which is nothing against the culture that I live in but it is pretty much a one people culture. Taiwan is all Taiwanese people. And so if you’re from any other culture be that African, South American, the Western cultures, even some of the other Asian cultures, you are considered an outsider even in Chinese you’re called a foreigner, an outsider. Something happens to you after you live here for very long when you’re constantly referred to and thought of as an outsider. And I think for a lot of people that brings up spiritual issues. So a couple things happen either you start looking for some answers to the questions, maybe that have been hiding in your life or you’re just looking for Community. You’re alone and so the church becomes a place where people can find that.
Chris: And what makes it unique? You said that all these different expatriates come together to Taichung International Fellowship because of that common experience and also because of the language that they can understand?
Todd: Yeah, so I would say there’s a couple unique things about our church. One is we do share a common language. So we’ve chosen not to be a translated service in the sense that we don’t use a bilingual format where I’ll preach a paragraph or sentence and then immediately it’s translated life.
I preach all in English. The service is all in English. And so our common language in the worship service is English. I think that’s been very helpful for a lot of people because, this is my personal opinion, but I would say it’s probably true for a lot of people when you’re in a bilingual environment a couple of things happen.
If you are truly bilingual so say you speak both Mandarin and English and you’re listening to a translated presentation like that regardless of if it’s a sermon or lecture or whatever one thing that’s going on in your brain is your always evaluating the translation. Hmm, you’re thinking now why did they say it that way or wow, that’s cool.
That’s a cool way to say that so actually you’re not really fully paying attention to what the speaker saying. So for me, I attended a few bilingual sermons and places and I just could never focus. I’m not really even listening to the sermon because I’m constantly evaluating the translator.
So there’s that and then I think the other thing that happens to people is if you’re not bilingual then you’re constantly frustrated. Because half of the time you don’t understand what’s being said and you can’t ever gain a full sequence of thought as you’re listening to the message and this is specifically related to the sermon.
Yeah, and I did a preaching environment a sermon is particularly unique and you know a lecture that’s one thing but a message the message of the gospel and particularly is meant to be delivered in a whole format and that doesn’t mean there aren’t situations where you have to translate.
Special days like Easter and Christmas. We do a bilingual service because we want to reach the most people with the message but in general our services are all English. And from the beginning however, we realized there were a number of people in our worship service who came who were in various stages of understanding English fully, mainly Mandarin speakers.
And so we began to take the sermon and translate that into a written form that we handed out. So we made sure that whether or not their listening ability was up to a native speaker level, they could still get the message of the sermon completely.
Chris: So those Mandarin speakers. Why do they prefer coming to the English service instead of Mandarin worship service somewhere else?
Todd: I think there’s a couple of reasons the primary reason that we found is those people have found themselves at some point in their life in an environment other than a Mandarin Church. So they could have gone to study abroad and maybe come to Faith in another environment either a western environment or just not at a Chinese Taiwanese environment and they prefer maybe the more open style of worship. There is a big difference in the two forms of worship services.
Chris: Is one basically very scripted like a high liturgy or what do you mean by open?
Todd: I think you know language is very important you work with language all the time. So the way you say things how you say things every language has a unique way of communicating information.
The English language is unique in communicating spiritual information and also allowing people to relate to each other. So let me give you an example in Mandarin and for those listeners who are unfamiliar with Asian culture, when you speak Chinese, you are really required to always address people by their title.
So here in Taiwan if I’m speaking with people in Mandarin, I am always addressed as Pastor. I’m never Todd and that creates a hierarchy in our relationship which you know, if I meet a doctor I have to call that person doctor. I’m not allowed to call that person by their name unless they maybe give me permission to do so, whereas in English what’s funny is in the same conversation if we switch to English, we are immediately on a first-name basis. So I think for a lot of people once they experience that it actually communicates something of the Gospel to them that we are all equal. We’re all brought to the same Level Playing Field under Christ in the we’re in the same family. Nobody’s the dad only only God is the father and all the rest of us are just brothers and sisters.
So that’s one piece of it. I think there’s a large group of our Mandarin speakers come from that they’ve experienced that unique sense of family. And that’s not to say that Taiwanese churches or Chinese churches don’t have that. It’s just different. We’re not neither one is right or wrong.
Chris: And they get to choose what they prefer.
It sounds as if in some ways the hierarchical language could also have its own benefits with regard to worship and reverence towards God and the ways that we address people that are older than us that is there may be aspects of the Gospel that we experienced differently when we use that kind of language.
Todd: Of course. I actually really enjoy reading the scriptures in Chinese because I see things that sometimes I don’t see in English. It’s so enriching.
Let me finish the answer to that question. The other thing is we do have people who come that are interested. They’re not Christians. They’re not even really thinking spiritually. But they come maybe they hear that there’s this group of foreigners who are meeting together.
Maybe they hear that there’s an opportunity to practice English. This is the smaller percentage of Taiwanese people who come. When they show up what they experience is this unique blend of, you know, 15 to 20 different cultures from around the world and they look at that and they come out of a culture where it’s really a monoculture. Everybody is Taiwanese and they walk into this place where you’ve got German people and French people and African people and Western people and South Asian people all worshiping together and talking and laughing and loving each other and going to eat together and they go. What is this? Hmm, they want to be a part of that. So I think that’s what happens to a lot of people as well.
Chris: That’s amazing and that in some ways that is an example of the community being a witness for the gospel.
Chris: Because that kind of diversity is so rare in a monoculture and I would ask, how is it possible? What’s actually bringing these people voluntarily together?
Todd: Yes, that is what they start to ask. How is this possible? And the answer is the gospel. That’s the only reason.
Chris: Yeah, so tell us more because I actually don’t really remember the story of how did you discover spf.io? Our software for translation?
Todd: Yeah. So this is a great story. From the beginning like I said, we have been translating our sermons into chinese or into Mandarin Chinese and we have this amazing group of very gifted translators. A couple of them are professional translators in their careers and then a couple of them just have the skills to do it. So every week I’ll generate my sermon notes which is pretty much the script of what I’m going to say, although they will tell me I always add more when I’m preaching. They’ll take that and then translate that into pretty much a word for word translation, which then gets printed and handed out then somewhere along the way we started producing actually like a Google document that we could share with the congregation.
So we tried to do it both digitally and a printed thing. And as you know translation work is actually quite difficult. I mean we have grown and I’ve grown in my ability to kind of remove a lot of the western cultural references and we have to as we have got so many different cultures, you know, we have to be very precise in our language, but it’s still challenging, but these people do such a great job.
We now have coming some pockets of other languages. So we have a group of Mongolian people started coming to church and they actually speak English pretty well. Some of them better than others, but they don’t speak Chinese. They come to Taiwan to study primarily at universities here that have some English programs.
We have a group of Indonesian people who are now coming to work at worship with us. And again the language level varies by degree. So in talking with our translation team, we were concerned. Well, we’re only doing Mandarin. What can we do for them would be helpful to them. But also, how can we take a little bit of the weight off our translation team because honestly, they’re all volunteers. They all have full time job.
Todd: You can imagine every week getting a six page sermon and having to generate that. It’s a lot of work.
Chris: Are they spending like six hours or more like 12 hours to do that work you think?
Todd: I would say they’re probably spending five to six hours.
Todd: Yeah, we have two people do it every week. So there were dividing the sermon in half. There’s an editor who would come along behind that and just make sure that it flowed smoothly. So it really three people every week are involved.
Chris: Wow, that’s a lot.
Todd: It’s amazing. I get emotional just thinking about the kindness of the people who serve at our church.
It’s really an astounding. I realized just through a couple of events that happened how much work I didn’t probably realize they were doing and I just like – there’s got to be a way to help them, but it’s got to be better than Google Translate. I honestly I just did an internet search and you guys popped up.
Todd: Yeah, that’s the truth
Chris: What did you search for it?
Todd: I searched for sermon translation programs. And also I think I added in live. Live translation we don’t have to do that. But I just thought I would throw it in there. I think that’s what I would usually translated and you guys were at the top of the list.
Chris: That’s good to know. Thank you.
Todd: I pulled the website up and looked at it and I thought this cannot be for real. This is too good to be true. And then our second thought was there’s no way we can afford this because we are a small church. We just don’t have a big budget over here. So I sent an email to you guys and got a reply back like the next day. I was quite shocked actually and sure enough it seemed like maybe it was true. I mean you guys translating into what 60 languages now?
Chris: We could do 60.
Todd: Yeah and I thought wow and so I sent the information to my translation team and I didn’t know how they would respond because I didn’t want to hurt their feelings of course, but I thought if this works, you know, we want to smooth things out as much as possible.
So they were really excited about it. It actually turned into a little bit of a partnership. We’re still using our translators to edit the sermons. Their desire is to help improve the ability of your program to translate Mandarin because it is one of the most difficult languages.
Chris: Yes. Yep.
Todd: So your program has this great ability to remember the way that you translate certain things. And so our translators are even sharpening up their translations now to make sure that the information we stick into the program get to remembered so every time we translate a sermon now actually it gets better and better. It’s actually really exciting for us. So actually their workload over time is going to decrease the better job they do that’ll just improve your product as well especially in the area of Mandarin.
Todd: And then in the last couple of weeks we’ve been able to add both Indonesian and Mongolian to our list of translated languages and we have a couple of those people actually helping us just kind of proof read through the translations and all those those translations are actually quite good. They’ve only had to make a few corrections.
Chris: That’s great to hear. Praise God. I’m actually smiling right now just hearing your story because I didn’t even realize how far it’s come a long in such a short time.
Todd: So I got to say, we’re very pleased. The learning curve is actually been pretty low for us. I mean, I thought oh man, this is going to take everybody a while but honestly it hasn’t taken that long to get up to speed. Our people like the way that it works. We’ve been able to put together a sequence of events that we run through each week of how we stick the information into the program, edit the translations and then get it ready for presentation on Sunday and people seem to be pretty quick to adopt using their handhelds and reading through the sermon as we go so it’s been great.
Chris: How have you seen it change your worship services? Have you seen people engage more with the sermon or just feeling more connected to each other? Have you noticed anything on that end?
Todd: I think for our Mandarin speakers, the only change was we got rid of all paper printed translations when we made the change. We said we’re not printing anything anymore. We’re going to force everybody to use the digital production. So that was helpful for us because that was just an extra step in the workload of the translation chain.
The other thing that I think has helped people is it’s very easy for us. We throw that QR code up on the screen right as I’m getting ready to preach along with some instructions in Mandarin and I also say it in Mandarin what what we’re asking the audience to do so many visitors who come know. The Mongolian speakers and the Indonesian speakers also, it’s the same QR code. That’s what’s great about your program. It doesn’t matter which language you’re doing. You just scan the same QR code and then you can choose the language that you want. Oh, here’s one other thing. I probably didn’t mention either. The English notes are also there because a number of our people English is their second language.
Which means they are listening to the sermon. Maybe they’re like maybe their first language maybe like one of the African languages and they speak English pretty well. So they’re here. They’re studying whatever they’re they’re able to really they’re probably not at a native level but they’re at a near native level maybe 80%. So by providing them the English translation as well, which by the way, your program does is I mean all four languages now are generated they’re able to fully capture.
They listened and they’re improving their listening skills, but they’re also just able to quickly read what I’m saying as I’m saying it so that’s been a huge help.
Chris: That is an amazing testimonial and I didn’t intend for it to be an ad but I couldn’t have asked for anything better.
Todd: I’m just telling you it’s been great.
We’ve experimented a little bit with the live translate feature. So, you know at the end of the service will do some announcements and there’s always some extranuous talking that happens during the service and so our operator and we’re training a couple of new operators now just to make sure we’ve got a rotating team there but the operator is playing around with using the live. We’ve got a built-in output from the soundboard and we’ve used the setup that you guys recommended and it works great. I mean it works. It’s just getting the clicking down, right, you know, the separating paragraphs and stuff like that. A little things like that.
Chris: It takes a skill. Yeah. It’s like a little bit like riding a bike. Once you can do it you could do it, but you got to practice.
Todd: So anyway, I’m not trying to be your spokesman, but I’m telling you for churches that have some kind of multilingual environment. This is such a big help.
I grew up to be honest, in a church that was very monocultural in the South. So I came from a monoculture to a monoculture basically. And now being in a multicultural environment and also having lived in a place for a little while where I couldn’t speak the language, where I couldn’t understand the culture. I know what it’s like to feel like I don’t know what’s going on here. So to be able to have a tool where somebody can walk into our service and sit down and pretty much understand what we’re saying without being able to understand language. That’s that’s an amazing tool and I can imagine a church where if you have the resources available to be able to provide something like this, why wouldn’t you do this?
Chris: Yeah, that’s powerful. What was your experience undergoing that transformation from being in a monocultural church into leading a multicultural Church? What were some of the things that you had to overcome personally or Community wise to be able to do that transition so that this tool is actually really helpful for you because I can imagine a lot of pastors might think that maybe that’s not my context?
Maybe that’s not my situation or I’m not ready for it yet. And you’ll be helpful just to hear more of your transition so that people who are who think it’s a great idea who want that Vision can take some of those next steps.
Todd: Well, one of the first things that had to happen to me was I had to be humbled. You know coming from the West, I’m from Texas so that adds another layer to it. We kind of think we do everything, right. That’s just a West a very American honestly, it’s a very American way of thinking and we think we always have the best idea in the room. And what I’ve had to learn what God has taught me through this experience and is still teaching me is I don’t always have the best idea in the room.
But what I do have is this amazing group of people who see things from so many different viewpoints that together we come up with the better a much better idea a much better plan than I could have ever imagined and sometimes the way that they that people from these other cultures see things, they see an aspect that I would have completely missed.
And actually I even hurt people had I not really paid attention to the way that there’s there’s a culture. I’m not going to name names because I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. But there is a culture in the world today that because of American influence back in some of the wars. This particular culture, I can’t say everybody but generally speaking if a person from this culture is in a meeting or in a room with a person from America, they will always yield to the American. They’ve been culturally sensitized to believe that the American is always right and I never knew that.
And we have those people in our church, and thankfully somebody was willing to tell me that and so now I know whenever I’m around this particular culture, I have to be particularly careful that I’m drawing that person out and asking for their opinion and making sure they know I really do care and I really do want to know what they think and I’m not just going to walk all over you because you’re as important as I am, but it’s just in their cultural narrative that Americans are always right and they always have the best ideas and that’s not right. You know, that’s not good.
Chris: Yeah, that’s not the gospel.
Todd: It’s not the gospel. Yeah, the place that I was in before and many places in the world is that you can’t have a multicultural Church. It’s not right or wrong. You just have to be in the culture that you’re in. So this is the place that I find myself and I’m very thankful for it’s taught me a lot of great things. But these are some of the things that I think a lot of pastors around the world are going to have to grow in and become better at and also receive the Gospel’s help because the world is becoming a more Multicultural Place.
Chris: Yeah, globalization is affecting everybody and in some ways the church could not just mimic its local culture, but we can actually lead the way in showing hospitality and welcoming people from many cultures as a witness for the gospel that Christ is what brings us together.
Todd: Yeah food. I mean food is a great example of that, you know In some cultures when you sit down to share a meal the important part of the meal is not really the food or the place.
Or you know, making sure that everything is perfect. It’s that you take a long time. And if you appear to be rushed if you’re like, okay, let’s just eat and kind of move on you’re actually thought of to be very rude because you’ve not paid attention to each other. So this is a big difference for Western people because actually Western people we’ve kind of been culturally sensitized to eat and move on.
In other cultures in the world not just Asia, but in many cultures in the world, food is a shared experience, whereby you really develop relationships and you share things over a meal. And we kind of think the important thing is having really beautiful food and again these are generalizations, but we want to have a really beautiful place to eat. You know, we want to make sure everybody’s comfortable and then we just want to eat and move on but for other people they would just rather sit around and you know, the food may get cold and whatever but the important thing is that you’re talking.
And relating to each other and so growing in your ability to realize your way of doing things is not right or wrong, but it’s not always the way you should do things.
Chris: Yeah, have you ever had any conflicts where maybe there’s a culture that values punctuality and there’s another culture that values Leisure and the to ever like kind of collide and expectations over something like a meal happening on time or ending on time? Have you ever experienced things like that?
Todd: We don’t really Collide over it. I think at our church. We just kind of have adapted to it. Okay, so the westerners. Well, I can’t I’m not going to even say that some people some people really prefer punctuality. And so we do start our services on time and then over the next 30 minutes people show up, but that’s true in a lot of churches.
You know, that’s not just here. Yeah. Yeah. What I what I have noticed a lot is when we go somewhere to share a meal or. Have some kind of Fellowship you cannot put an end time on it that people really there there’s a group of people and honestly, it’s kind of Multicultural. I can’t name a culture some people just really they’re going to stand around and talk and chat and enjoy each other’s presence and Company for until like the person who’s closing the facility comes and pushes them out the door, you know, it’s like you have to leave now. I’m locking this place up. Yeah, and they’re like, oh we have to g? You know why. I don’t understand it’s like it’s midnight. We have to go home.
Chris: Yeah, I come from an Indonesian cultural background, even though I was born in the states and I grew up in an Indonesian church, so it was always very interesting because even though we were in America a lot of the things that you described I experience like after the service at church we would hang out for maybe like three hours just having like food from a potluck basically and just keep talking talking talking like it just would never end and it’s also funny it was funny for me to hear sometimes in American churches people are very concerned about Community about relationship and everything and I felt like in my Indonesian church we had the opposite problem where we almost did everything together and spent way too much time together. I craved a little bit more of that independence and freedom and interacting with other social groups and so it is just fascinating to bring all these different cultural frames together because like you said, like wow, our perspectives are just so widened and also I found that it helps even clarify, the difference between what is really of God’s kingdom and what’s really of my culture so that I don’t end up prioritizing my culture, thinking that it is the way that things have to be done in the Kingdom.
Todd: Yeah things that we’ve really had to, our leadership team, our pastors have really fought for and we continue to fight for is reminding people. It is wonderful we have a multicultural church, but every all of us, all of our culture’s are actually submissive and underneath our one shared culture.
We have now joined a new culture. That’s Christ’s Kingdom. And so in Christ, we are a new family. We actually get brought into a new culture that we share now and we can bring some of our cultural distinctives occasionally into the church. But we’re not going to be an American Church. We’re not going to be an African church.
We’re not going to be a Taiwanese Church. We’re not going to be anyone church. We’re simply going to do our best to be Christ church. We’re not perfect. We make plenty of mistakes in this area, but if we don’t set that bar at the top then, you know, we will never get there. So that’s the bar.
Chris: Yeah, and I’m sure there’s so many that’s just an ongoing process. What do you think is distinctive about kind of Christ’s Kingdom culture and how it is that you can intentionally reflect that?
Todd: That’s a great question. I think actually it’s quite easy to answer the distinctives of Christ culture are Christ.
We live like him so. Number one. He preached the gospel that the message of the kingdom is for everyone. And I think that’s a distinctive of our churches that we are a gospel church. We believe that the gospel has meaning today. We’re not just love church. We’re not just the place where you just come and so it’s just a nice loving Church.
You’re going to hear the gospel. We’re truth and love. Another distinctive is there is a new family that is made when you come into Christ culture and this family is so unique that actually you can feel closer to your brothers and sisters in Christ, than you may feel to your own family of origin.
I think that the relationships that we end up with in the church because of the love that we share and the place we’re going we all share a common destination. So we’re on Mission together. We’re going somewhere together that unites us and this Grand narrative that Christ is writing and we can’t share that with anybody else.
We can bring people into that and that’s what we want. But once you’re in it, then you share it. And another distinctive of the Christ Community is service. I think we look at the world and we don’t despair. We don’t say wow this place is just going to pot we should just all together and you know, we’ll just hug each other and hold on till the end.
We look outside at the world and we say yeah, this place has got some real problems and we are part of the solution and we move out into the world and hope and we bring the power of the Gospel to bear on the social issues of the day. And we do it with hope knowing that Jesus has the power to help us.
And everything is not going to be fixed, but the things that we can we will and we do.
Chris: It’s great for people to be able to hear that perspective because I think sometimes a lot of pastors and a lot of churches and a lot of lay people even myself we grew up in a certain church, right? And in that church is a certain culture and then we begin to just assume that the way things were done in that church is the way that the kingdom of God is and so it sometimes it takes that perspective of having been transplanted been in a multicultural setting to discern those things which are actually you know, what a lot of the things that you did they’re not necessarily bad, but they were cultural they weren’t necessarily essential to the gospel and to God’s Kingdom.
So sometimes having your perspective, I know you could go on and on it’s just helps to kind of clarify to realize like yeah, we don’t have to do it this way. There’s a lot of other possible ways to do it, but these are the things that if we come around it if we are that kind of relationally connected in Christ, so we have this intimate relationships with each other we preach the gospel.
Those are the things that can really give us confidence that we’re not being exclusive or we’re not creating or separating and dividing line where we shouldn’t be. This is just the heart of what Christ wants and we can from there have freedom to adapt in all kinds of amazing ways.
Todd: Absolutely. Yeah.
Chris: So this has been really great to hear from you both all of your high praise for spf.io and to hear about your experiences leading Taichung International Fellowship. I really appreciate it. And I think I would want to close with is there any kind of final word you want to give to encourage other pastors other church leaders or church members out there who see this dream of having a multicultural church and they just need some encouragement to take those next steps or to persevere in the journey. Anything you’d like to say for them?
Todd: Yeah, I would. I think one of the things I’m 50 years old now and I did not arrive here overnight. Obviously when I was 30, I was a much different person when I was 40. I was a different person again, and so I’ve it’s been a learning process. But if I could give some encouragement to other pastors out there no matter where you are if you live in a place where you have other cultures around you that you hope to have some relationship with, regardless if it’s a different culture or just a person across the street. It doesn’t matter. This I think is one of the great things that I realized about myself personally that changed my my whole perspective on being able to be a better follower of Christ.
I realized that once I became a Christian I got a group around me of other Christians and everybody, every person and every church has a capacity. You know, you have a capacity for relationships. Individuals capacities are rather limited some more than others and then churches capacities also can’t do everything and you can’t do everything well.
So what you have to do though, if you want to bring new people in you have to make room. Just like in a workgroup in a working situation, you know, if you want to add new work, there’s some old work. Generally you got to get rid of. So what I mean by this is just to be very bold and blunt about it is some people have so many Christian relationships.
They’ve got no room to bring any people outside of Christ into their sphere. And so what happens is we know the commands of Christ to take the gospel and to be relational and to bring people in make disciple of all nations, but we don’t have any room for them.
We’re already too full. We’re too full with each other. The only way to make room is if I’ve got 10 really close friends and all those friends are really close Christian friends. I don’t have room for any other relationships in my life. Not real relationships, but that’s what the gospel is. The gospel is about real relationships.
So actually what I have to do is say to maybe I don’t maybe it’s maybe it’s a conversation. Maybe it’s not I don’t know. But what I have to do is a few of those friends, they’ve got to go and become more willing and open to bring new people into their relationships. And that means I get taken out of their Circle and bigger taken out of mine so that I can bring somebody new.
And I think God needs more of us to live that kind of a life where we’re we don’t get stuck in a small group of relationships where there’s never room for anybody new. And that means bringing people into your your home bringing people into your meals bringing people into your your conversations. I mean, that’s how we develop relationships.
But honestly, I just think a lot of us were content with oh, I just want to invite my neighbor to church but we never actually invite them into our life. Yeah, and that’s where the gospel I think hits a wall for some people is because they think well was I just. Did you just want me to come to church so you could kind of feel good about yourself?
Yeah, I don’t I don’t only need the church. I need you. I think this is what a lot of people are saying and this is what the gospel brings. It brings the message of Christ, the beauty of Christ, the love of Christ. All those things are brought through his people.
That answers the question of how do you become a more Multicultural church or when you take the monoculture that you live in and bring more people into that.
Chris: Yeah, that’s it. That’s a great answer because I recently was thinking about how you know, our bodies are called a temple of the Holy Spirit and in some ways what that means is that everywhere we show up that’s how the presence of God is present there. And so with all these relationships like you were saying if we don’t have if we’re only hanging out with other Christians in a holy huddle, then the presence of God is not there for everyone out in the world and all every industry, every culture, every place.
But when we go out. We just have to show up. We don’t have to really be so afraid about what to say or what to do. If Christ is in us then showing up is how Christ shows up there and interacts with other people but it is a mindset shift to kind of leave our comfortable circles of friendships and choose to make space like you said for people who are different than us.
Yeah, you’re right. This is great. I’ve really enjoyed this time talking with you Todd and thank you so much for joining us and everyone who’s listening if they want to get in touch with you and learn from what teaching is doing. Is there a way they can reach you?
Todd: Sure, I’m a pretty public person here in Taichung. So you can find me on Facebook. It’s just Todd Blackhurst and I have the information about Taichung International Fellowship there. I’m on Instagram.
I’d love to hear from you and I’d be happy to connect and I’m certainly no expert but together God can use us to do some great things.
Chris: Fantastic and if anyone is interested in using spf.io, to provide translation and to reach out to your Multicultural neighborhood, you can learn more at SPF dot IO, it’s SPF dot IO.
And thank you Pastor Todd. Look forward to connecting again in future.