Queen Street in Brampton, despite formerly being the “main drag” through downtown, has now become a hard to navigate road. With just under a half million people in Brampton – making it the eleventh largest city in Canada – there always seems to be a construction crew busily pulling up some section of Queen Street and an inordinate amount of people “out and about” just as I am trying to make my way up the strip.
I was idly looking around on just such an occasion – stopped at an intersection waiting for a police officer who was directing traffic to waive me through – when I noticed the restaurant’s sign: “Pizza, Rice: Sri Lanka and Indian Foods.” Hmmm, interesting . . . I discovered, after a little research, that it was once just a pizza place and branched out some years back. It’s not really a very traditional food combination, is it? With Brampton’s large South Asian population they no doubt felt this change would better meet the needs of their community.
By adapting their menu choices they are able to engage the interest of a greater number of people. They will, by necessity, have to re-examine their approach in the years to come and continue to adapt to the changing needs of their environment in order to remain effective.
I had a few thoughts cross my mind, as it relates to the Church, that I have thought about since I first saw this restaurant sign.
The story remains the same
In our Christian context, adapting to our communities does not mean compromise. We can best follow Jesus, both individually and corporately, by being Christ-like to the people around us and thinking in new ways to meet people where they are. The gospel story doesn’t change – but how we present it will – depending on our different and changing contexts.
One size does not fit all
It is both responsible and faithful for individuals and churches to discern what God is saying and adapt – so that the way the message is communicated is effective and their ministry relevant within that specific context. These adaptations will be expressed and look differently in each individual life or congregational life.
I wonder how well this restaurant would do if it were located in a different community? In a context without the huge South Asian influence, would it have the same relevance?
The bottom line
In order for us to be effective in sharing Jesus, we must continue to practically and faithfully adapt to our changing settings. This is not a new concept for the Church, as it has adapted in each new age and setting.
This issue of the MOSAIC focuses on Culture and the Missional Church. There are great stories of individuals and churches working within their contexts to share the love of Christ in faithful and successful ways.