One purpose of our time in Quebec this week is to explore the possibility of entering into a partnership with one of the church planters here. In a way, the Monday night meeting was sort of like Acts 1:8 speed dating. All of the planters were in the same room and our team made it a point to meet as many of them as we possibly could. On Tuesday, we criss crossed the city of Montreal visiting the fields and facilities of the planters there. On Wednesday we will go to two towns in the outlying areas. On Thursday we will go to Quebec City. We are putting some real kilometers on the rental cars.
When you see a place that is so vast a land mass with only a handful of evangelical works amongst millions of decidedly secular people and has a culture nothing like your own, it is easy to get intimidated and wonder what can we really do? I don't speak French or know the rules of hockey, how can I possibly communicate the gospel to these people?
Americans are rugged individualists, and microwave pragmatists. We want it done our way with immediate results. This is why in America our evangelistic strategies are mostly communicated on calendars. We plan the events and days that will bring a soul to Jesus. When we do short term mission trips we plan the dates and events that will bring other nations to Jesus. That approach will not work in Quebec.
As I have alluded to in previous posts, bringing people to Christ in Quebec may take years of simply building relational trust. This means for those of us who desire to spend a week in a foreign land and return home with the pelts of lost souls won to proudly parade before the home team, Quebec will not be flashy enough of a mission trip to even consider. For those who choose to partner here, there will be no pelts though you may come week after week for a decade or more.
There is another cultural barrier that is paramount to consider for those who desire to partner here. Even though the culture has rejected Catholicism, there is a historical caveat that will make the work difficult. Catholicism is associated with French culture in Quebec. English is associated with protestantism. Historically, protestantism is a problem here. For a thorough understanding of the issue read D.A. Carson's Memoirs of an Ordinary Pastor. Currently, protestantism is perceived as a homophobic, anti-environmental, ignorant brand of conservatism. Perception becomes reality and so protestantism does not translate well in a socially liberal, hyper environmental Quebec. When an English speaking protestant asks a French speaking Quebecois to believe upon Christ, the Quebecois believes that what he is really being asked to do is to stop being a French Quebecois and become an ignorant, conservative homophobic, anti environmental English protestant.
Immediately, I want to protest the perception and offer a rebuttal. Quebec does not need my protest but rather my partnership. The people on the ground here are French speaking, they understand the culture, they have invested in the relationships. What I must resolve to do is to help and not hurt, to get behind instead of take the lead. What the planters do not need from me is more to do because I am coming. They need my hands, not my mouth.
As pastor of Ridgecrest I am praying that our church will send at least 3 teams to Quebec in 2012. Most of the planters here have a great vision for what needs to be done, but because they are so few and the churches are so small they need logistical support. The task could be anything from helping take down tempos (a temporary tent like carport) for the elderly this spring to staffing a local festival. If you would like to consider partnering with planters in Quebec, support and information can be found at: