Sean and Amy are from Ohio, home of the Buckeyes. They are a husband and wife missionary team visiting our seminary to speak at our weekly meeting of the Student Missions Fellowship (SMF). Of course, we briefly talked about the Buckeyes historic championship title at the BCS Bowl Games. We can’t help it. OSU made history!
Sean and Amy are sharing about their work as OMF missionaries here in Kaohsiung working among the “working class” population of the country. These groups of people are the commoners, the street vendors, the truck drivers, the Taiwanese-speaking poor of the island. They make a strong case arguing that Taiwanese Christian churches are too sophisticated, too distant from the working-class people. They point out certain characteristics of churches that would never draw in working class people. They cite the language used in liturgy (Mandarin, as opposed to Taiwanese of the working class), the culture of dressing up for church, or the manner of carrying a conversation (family dialogue versus the one-way monologue approach from the pulpit). I see most of the participating Holy Light seminary students agreeing with Sean and Amy. There is a great challenge of making Christian churches become more relevant to the 70% population of Taiwanese working-class people in the island.
As they concluded their talk and headed out for the door, I thanked them and also mentioned that they need to watch the NCAA March Madness games. Buckeyes were going to play that evening. Of course, I just had to mention how good the Kentucky Wildcats are doing this year. They were envious of course, because OSU is going to play a strong Arizona team and they do not know if the Buckeyes have the grit to finish this round.
So, the questions I have after our SMF meeting with Sean and Amy are: How relevant are our Christian churches in Taiwan in meeting the needs and circumstances of the 70% Taiwanese-speaking population of the working-class people? What challenges do we have here in Taiwan in mobilizing our local churches? What can the seminary do?