thinking out loud

…things that are on my mind, heart, and soul

Dave Gibbons (A Third Culture)


Dave Gibbons describes himself as the social entrepreneur and lead pastor of New Song, a multi-site church with campuses in both Southern California and Thailand. I appreciated the unique perspective that Gibbons brought to his 18 minutes at Q and the way he worked his life experience as an Asian American into his thoughts on a third culture church. Gibbons began with a funny story about the birth of his daughter (and how he mistakenly took her umbilical cord for some other equipment) and used it to challenge some widely held assumptions about church:

– church is all about the weekend
– that 1 hour of children’s ministry on Sunday is to be the best
– hour of a child’s entire week
– it’s not about the building, it’s about what happens inside the building

We all have pre-conceptions about the church. Do you hold any assumptions about church that maybe are not true? How might those assumptions be holding us back from becoming the church that God wants and needs us to be?

The greatest commandment is to love God with everything we are and to love our neighbors as ourselves. The big question resonates through the ages: “who is my neighbor?” Jesus, in answering that question, reveals a non-western, middle eastern approach – he tells a story of a Samaritan who loved and served a Jew. Gibbons reminded us that Asians, like those in the middle east, make their home in a shame culture and hear nuances and avoiding giving direct, confrontational answers. Your neighbor is someone you would be hostile against, someone of a different culture, someone you may even hate. This is who Jesus is calling us to love, not just the people like us.

Gibbons stated that the first culture is the sphere of the dominant culture; the second culture is a reactive culture. He pushed us to consider becoming a third culture, an adaptive culture, a place of liminality. The third culture is the mindset and the will to love and serve and connect with others in any culture, at any time even in the midst of pain and suffering. And he left us with three questions to consider:

1) What is my pain? What is their pain? Pain connects a person to culture in powerful ways. In the dominant culture there is a theology of celebration, in many other places around the world we find a theology of suffering to be much more prevalent. How can we find connection and relationship around questions of pain and suffering?

2) What is in your hand? What has God given you? What can you do? Remember that the locals know more than you do.

3) Can anything good come from Nazareth? As you touch the margins, you’ll reach the masses. This is a contrarian approach to advancing the kingdom of God.

BTW: On top of a tremendously thought provoking presentation, Gibbons was the only guy to work into his 18 minutes a video quote from Bruce Lee. Be water my friend.

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have the peace that passes understanding at the heart of yourself, but do not be at peace with the world. for the world is more malleable than we think and we must wrestle it from fools. (bono)
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