What if only 13% of your church members were proficient readers?
As you prepared to serve this congregation, how would you craft the material you are teaching so that it could be understood? Would you quote authors? Would you reference books - especially since most of the books you read (assuming you are part of the 13%) are not being read by those you are teaching. At what grade level would your vocabulary be as you spoke?
My guess is that if you were planning for a short-term trip in a cross-cultural context and heard this statistic you would take great care in your approach to teaching.
But what if I told you that this statistic is from the Department of Education in the United States?
Now ask yourself: Would you take the same care in preparing the message? Would you argue that Christians need to think hard and therefore speak about issues and use vocabulary that are beyond your people in order to try to press them into deeper intellecutal waters?
It is a difficult dillemna, but one thing seems certain. When Americans teach overseas, I have never heard them complain about the intellectual level of the people they are training. Yet, I have heard many American pastors bemoan the fact that their own people have a hard time grasping what they believe is important.
Are you considering your people when you teach in the place where you are from?
Darren Carlson is the Founder and President of Training Leaders International. As President, Darren oversees the general direction of the ministry and serves as an advocate for pastors with little access to formal training and thoughtful cross-cultural theological engagement. You can connect with him on Facebook and Twitter.