I have heard that one of the most important guidelines for cross-cultural preaching is this:
Never have expectations.
Let me explain. You may expect the service to be two hours long. It could be four. You may be expecting to preach only sermon. You might have to preach two.
When I was preparing for this preaching in East Africa a few years ago, I was excited for the opportunity to worship with the body of believers in a much different context than I am used to. I was told that I was going to be preaching once, and before the service I was going to be leading a church Bible study.
“No problem,” I thought. After all, I had a sermon prepared, and a Bible study would just be a discussion-based approach to a specific text. So imagine my surprise when I discovered that there is little difference between a sermon and a Bible study. And imagine my surprise when I discovered this just minutes before the service!
During the Bible study time (i.e., the first sermon time), I preached my prepared sermon. It was a look at the call of Gideon in Judges 6:1-32. God, in his grace, was able to speak through me into a different context than the sermon was originally written for. During the sermon time (i.e.,, the second sermon time), I preached through Philippians 4:1-9, a passage that I have preached from a few times. Praise God once more, as I had many people approach me after the sermon and tell me that was exactly what the church needed at this time.
Thank you Lord, for using a broken and leaking vessel like me to proclaim your Word and truth to your church!