That, or something like that, is usually the first response I get when I talk to someone about church planting in France.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, really.
The French at least have some sort of identity with the average person I talk to. True, a lot of what people know is a misconception based on cultural misunderstanding. True, a lot of it comes from French words that end with five letters that one doesn’t actually pronounce. True, it comes from a generation of Frenchmen wearing berets on the movie screen and carrying baguettes around (that last part is absolutely true-and the bread is amazing). The real issue comes down to we just don’t understand you, M. Frenchman.
This is truly no different than America but here we share a language that we can at least sort of all understand (no and know are pronounced the same, just food for thought). I’ve been reading a great little book called Cultural Misunderstandings by Raymonde Carroll that explains many of the reasons why Americans and French confuse each other. What I like the most about this particular book is that Carroll is just writing about the average French person. He isn’t writing about church people or missionary experience. He is just writing about why Americans and French differ on more than how to say ‘I like cheese’ (j’aime le fromage in case you are wondering).
From my short experience in France what I learned is that French people are passionate about who they are. The wine. The cheese. The language. The body language. The rolling countryside. The history. They have a lot to be passionate about, no?
So the next time you think of a French person and ascribe them the ‘Those French are so _______ ‘ understand that we just don’t understand. That is where living and learning in France is such a valuable experience and why it’s something we can’t stress enough when talking about our goal of church planting.
But perhaps you’re asking, ‘Greg. If you are admitting that there is a cultural divide between French and Americans then why are you wanting to go and be French and plant churches. Why don’t you just leave it up to the French themselves.’
Solid question, friend.
My answer- because there aren’t enough church planters. There aren’t enough people who see the need and feel led to fill it. France needs church planters. France needs Christians who see Kingdom work to be done. I don’t want to go to France to save the French and teach them how to do church. I want to go because God has spurred the thought and movement in me and I’ve seen the need of a culture full of people who need love. If you’d like to partner with us in filling this need we’d love to talk with you! Click the little envelope and email us or go to the donate tab.