Well, it was a good two weeks in Asia, but can I just say that India is not the place to be when your cricket team are doing so disastrously in the World Cup. A large chunk of the population here live and breath cricket and want to remind you constantly about your team’s poor performance.
But not everybody.
India, like many places, is complex. Take sport for example. The national sport of India, anybody?
That’s right: field hockey. A sport that is relatively elite. Cricket is much more evenly spread. Football is increasingly popular. In villages, local sports often dominate. India has also produced some top tennis players – grand slam winners mixed doubles pair Mahesh Bhupati and Sania Mirza, but, again, this is an elite sport. India is a large country made up of – in effect – many different nations and religions. Sporting interest often follows some of those lines.
In short things are complex. British preachers often come here and think that if they use cricketing illustrations, they will win over congregations. Not true. It’s simply playing to a stereotype. Like most places in the world, culture here is complex.
Which brings me my home congregation. I want to make my preaching culturally accessible and relevant – that is part of the key work of a preacher as he ‘lands’ the sermon. However, sweeping generalisations about church congregations generally will not do.
Rather, there is no alternative to a settled long-term ministry in which the preacher gets to know and love his congregation and is able to preach to them as his own people. Even in complex cultures, this is the ministry that counts.