How an Individualistic Approach Affects Churches Domestically, and Internationally

Does population size matter?

Photo by Karl Fredrickson on Unsplash

Strangely, though most pastors in the Caribbean will deny they need support, the need still exists. There seems to be a “stay in your lane” attitude, and therefore, the church is starving for help from people in the community. Currently, the Caribbean, particularly the Island of St. Croix, has no biblical training centers or seminaries though there is a call from people of the Caribbean. There seem to be theological differences and perhaps a few distinctive thoughts on women leading in the church, specifically the Baptist church; thus, creating a lack of support from the community. Lack of helpful resources creates a barrier and, therefore, stagnant church missions.

When it comes to serving people in the deaf and disabilities communities and or marginalized communities, there needs to be a precedence for inclusion and freedom to serve God’s people in spirit and truth. Pride has no place in the church. Therefore, pastors who feel they are about reproach or will not come down to meet God’s people where they are simply do not represent God’s divine order, the risen Christ, and they harken to the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Churches in the Caribbean lead from an individualistic approach towards ministry, thus offering a more laid-back or simplistic approach to ministry. On the other hand, churches in America teach from a collective approach towards ministry, which provides more options to serve and tend to the problems within their churches faster. Due to the size of the churches in America, there will be more people willing to help and those who hold positions, so staffing most likely will not be that much of an issue. These differences do not put one church over the other because all churches, local or internationally, can use it for help. “The harvest is ripe, but the laborers are few (Matt. 9:37).” When it comes to the church, a collective approach seems to mimic the foundations of the church, as seen in Acts 2.

To better understand the differences in church leadership and the way church administration is conduction internationally, the definition of individualism and collectivism must be assessed, essentially:

Individualism is the belief that individuals are separate beings with personal differences that make him/her unique from the group. Internal processes guide individualists’ behaviors, with the goal of reaching self-satisfaction and one’s full potential. Collectivism is defined as a social pattern that consists of individuals who are closely interconnected in a group. Collectivists gain their values and social norms from the group. [1]

Though churches in the Caribbean should operate from a collective standpoint, the approach is very much individualistic. The reason is that the pastor is separate from the group, and he is treated like a king and not a servant in God’s place. Where does that leave marginalized groups? For the most part, the churches in the Caribbean offer benevolence and have in the past served people in the deaf community by staffing the church with a sign language interpreter; this is great but just how far does the church go to tend to the spiritual needs of disabled communities? Disabled people need spiritual support as well, and it does not have to be a strenuous process to make the lives of disabled people a priority. Why does church planning have to look different geographically?

Here is how church administration in the Caribbean may look different vs. churches in the U.S. mainland; churches in the mainland are woven in collectivism. In the United States, churches are interconnected; However, despite theological differences; churches in the U.S. seem to work together for the common good and are known to support one another. There are also noticeable financial or socioeconomic differences per capita — more opportunities to raise money for causes and join collectives (keyword) on the U.S. mainland. However, a church is still a church, and the approach should be the same and not limit the ability of God to provide for all peoples. What would the Lord say here concerning the size of the church with more resources? Jesus already addressed this matter here:

At that time, the disciples came to Jesus and asked, “Who, then, is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” He called a little child to him and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me (Matt. 18:1–5).

Overall, the focus should be the mission for churches, not to place limitations on the church based on culture. Overall, church leaders must make serving the deaf and disabled communities a priority like other missions. Churches in the Caribbean need to yield to the will of God and be like the strong army God has raised, to think, look, and act like large churches on the U.S. Mainland from a unified approach. For the most part, there should be no comparison or competition among churches; however, observations can make for a better approach.

[1] Cheng, A.W., Rizkallah, S. and Narizhnaya, M. (2020). Individualism vs. Collectivism. In The Wiley Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences (eds B.J. Carducci, C.S. Nave, J.S. Mio, and R.E. Riggio). September 18, 2020. Date Accessed November 28, 2021. https://doi-org.ezproxy.liberty.edu/10.1002/9781118970843.ch313

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