I am not writing this post because I know very much about this subject. As a matter of fact, I hardly know anything. I just recently began preaching in another language and culture. However, here are some things that I am learning through this process and some differences in preaching cross-culturally.
One, you cannot just translate. Often, people think learning a language is just a matter of learning the corresponding words in another language and using them. However, that is not the case. You cannot merely learn words, but you must learn how people use those words. I will often make mistakes in the language because I am translating things from English to Spanish, and it does not work.
You must learn how to communicate ideas. If I translate the English method of explaining the idea with the corresponding Spanish words, then many times, it will not make sense. However, every language and culture has their way of communicating ideas, and we must learn that through spending time with the people and speaking with them
Two, it is hard to make a joke and use illustrations in your message. Something that might be very funny in English will not even make sense in Spanish. Most jokes are based on cultural knowledge that a newcomer will not have or fully understand. Also, a joke that a national makes might be funny coming from him, but the same joke coming from an outsider would be offensive.
Illustrations from other countries many times will not work. You cannot give an example about Walmart in many other counties in the world because people don’t even know what that is. You cannot talk about how Chickfila is God’s chosen chicken sandwich because people have never eaten at Chickfila or heard of it. You need to use an illustration of what the people in your country have experienced and know about.
Three, God’s Word works in every country. Perhaps you need to change your method of communicating the message, but the message stays the same. God’s Word will work in every country and culture because it is the power of God unto salvation. Our job is to communicate the Word fo God, and it will work in people’s lives. People all around the world are sinners and need to accept Christ.
We should trust in God’s Word to work in people’s lives. We might need to change the way that we communicate the Word of God to different cultures. We can see that Paul did this. He would use different manners and approaches to explain the Gospel. But we can also see that he always preached the Gospel because he knew the Word of God was going to do the work.
These are three things that I have seen so far in my preaching journey in another language and culture. I hope that this has helped you understand a little bit about cross-cultural preaching.