Culture Shock

By: Tyler Sit
August 29, 2014

Rather than a professor handing down a syllabus, God is handing down a vision…


My professors warned me about ‘reverse culture shock’ after I returned from India. American life is at a different pace, they told me, with different rules and expectations.

Now that I have returned to the United States, graduated, and begun a church planting residency, there is no doubt in my mind that the culture shock I am experiencing is not from living in a different continent. The culture shock is moving from academics to the professional world.

The things I used to rely on in school—syllabi, midterms, study groups—are nowhere to be found. As a church planter, my time is almost entirely structured by my own pure initiative.

I had left the academic world that I occupied for over twenty years and entered the foreign land of being a self-starter.

And I love it.

While I was in the land of school I was a task-finisher, not a self-starter. I was driven by deadlines and expectations of my professors, and even though I loved learning I certainly wasn’t a groundbreaking scholar.

The life of a church planter couldn’t be farther than the life of a student. Rather than a professor handing down a syllabus, God is handing down a vision—and often with far fewer details and accountability. It is up to the church planter’s imagination to fill in the blanks and initiate the change.

For example, if I didn’t go to the urban farm I volunteer at—or any of the other community organizations I attend to meet new people—no one would bat an eye. There are no points being docked for not reaching the kids in the neighborhood, and there’s no grade deduction for failing to see leadership potential in one of my laypeople.

However, these are the tasks at hand, and they will not be done unless I live the life of a self-starter. God sets up the tinder, and each day I have to strike the match and let the Spirit glow.

It’s a big shock.

A big, blessed shock.



Tyler Sit is a Church Planting resident at Urban Village Church in Chicago, IL. He is training at Urban Village to eventually relocate to Minneapolis, where he plans on starting a church that focuses on environmental justice.

Tags: Inspired Leaders, Thinking Out Loud, Shaping the Future


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