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Ministering Cross-Culturally [Paperback]

Sherwood G. Lingenfelter , Marvin K. Mayers
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Book Description

1 Oct 2003
In Ministering Cross-Culturally, the authors demonstrate that Jesus needed to learn and understand the culture in which he lived before he could undertake his public ministry. The authors examine how this can help us better understand what it means to establish relationships of grace with those from different cultural and social backgrounds. With more than 70,000 copies of the first edition in print, this incarnational model of ministry has proven successful for many people. Several sections in this second edition have been rewritten, and the entire book has been updated to reflect development in the authors' thinking. Drawing from the authors' rich experience on the mission field, this book will benefit anyone who wants to be salt and light in a multicultural and multiethnic world.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Baker Academic; 2nd edition (1 Oct 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801026474
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801026478
  • Product Dimensions: 21.3 x 14 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 123,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Sherwood G. Lingenfelter (Ph.D., University of Pittsburgh) is provost and senior vice-president at Fuller Theological Seminary. Marvin K. Mayers (Ph.D., University of Chicago) has taught for many years in the intercultural studies department of Biola University.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeing through different eyes... 1 Feb 2004
By Kurt Messick HALL OF FAME
Format:Paperback
This text is one of the better guides for cross-cultural ministry that I have found. In its relatively few pages (only 120 pages), it contains a wealth of information based on some easily-remembered and applied principles.
Increasingly in the world today, no matter what profession one chooses, there will be people from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures -- even in the smallest of towns, people from different social strata will interact and come together in certain venues, and church and chaplaincy settings are among those. Cross-cultural ministry is not something reserved to those going off in foreign mission fields, but has an impact right here at home, wherever home may be.
One of the key concepts here is the dealing with conversation and conflict. The way people interact differently can lead to conflict -- not necessarily open violence (although sometimes that can happen), but rather the kind of tension that is caused when people don't understand each other. What we sometimes fail to forget is that people attribute importance and moral force to their actions and those of others, and will react not only to what is being said and done, but to their own interpretations of the meanings of those words and actions. This is derived from cultural influences -- shared culture as well as personal and family culture.
Lingenfelter and Mayer look at key concepts -- differences in the way we look at time, judgement, crisis management, goals, self-valuation, and vulnerabilities. For example, in urban cultures, people tend to lead fast-paced lives more frequently than those in small-town cultures; a person moving from one setting to another may find it irritating to be in such a setting, and perhaps not even know why.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This book at first was a big suprise for me, it really gripped me and opened up things i hadn't realised. We today think we understand all cultures. However we don't as much as we think we do, this book shows us how to look at our own ways that we might think is 'normal' and all people 'should behave' like this, but in other cultures it is not seen as a priority or even acceptable. It opened my eyes to all my funny little English quirks that i thought didn't really exsit. I had trouble putting this book down. Enjoy!
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A very important book if want to learn to understand yourself better and communicate and relate better in your marriage and cross-culturally.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  45 reviews
24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Seeing with different eyes... 1 Feb 2004
By FrKurt Messick - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This text is one of the better guides for cross-cultural ministry that I have found. In its relatively few pages (only 120 pages), it contains a wealth of information based on some easily-remembered and applied principles.
Increasingly in the world today, no matter what profession one chooses, there will be people from a wide range of backgrounds and cultures -- even in the smallest of towns, people from different social strata will interact and come together in certain venues, and church and chaplaincy settings are among those. Cross-cultural ministry is not something reserved to those going off in foreign mission fields, but has an impact right here at home, wherever home may be.
One of the key concepts here is the dealing with conversation and conflict. The way people interact differently can lead to conflict -- not necessarily open violence (although sometimes that can happen), but rather the kind of tension that is caused when people don't understand each other. What we sometimes fail to forget is that people attribute importance and moral force to their actions and those of others, and will react not only to what is being said and done, but to their own interpretations of the meanings of those words and actions. This is derived from cultural influences -- shared culture as well as personal and family culture.
Lingenfelter and Mayer look at key concepts -- differences in the way we look at time, judgement, crisis management, goals, self-valuation, and vulnerabilities. For example, in urban cultures, people tend to lead fast-paced lives more frequently than those in small-town cultures; a person moving from one setting to another may find it irritating to be in such a setting, and perhaps not even know why.
The authors bring in examples from around the world (Yapese-Micronesian, Latin American, African, etc.) as well as different groups in North America for comparison and contrast. This is not a book of stories, but rather essays that illustrate the basic principles, which are in turn supported by stories and examples, including some of the authors' own experiences. This is in concert with the incarnational model the authors put forward, a way of growing into the culture, and being part of a culture respected and held as valid as any the outside observer or participant might naturally hold.
Ultimately, Lingenfelter and Mayers invite people to work toward being 150% persons, drawing on Malcolm McFee's observation about Native Americans (in particular, the Blackfoot) who were not quite completely Native Americans any longer, but rather about 75%, and that they had assimilated sufficiently into the dominant culture that they fit 75% in there, hence 150%. This is what we must do, working to incorporate other cultures into ourselves while retaining the best and most important of our own.
This is a very useful book, full of insight and helpful suggestions, key ideas and meaningful stories.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars opened my eyes 3 April 2002
By P. Fung - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I first read this before my a short-term (6 weeks) summer trip to an east asian country, and although I am of asian descent, it definitely prepared me for things that I would have otherwise been caught by surprise.
For those preparing to go cross-cultural, even for short-term trips, this is a must-read. it isn't long, but its full of great stuff to pray, meditate, think about, and discuss. It does a great job of equipping and working on your mindset to be ready to face many of the things that will be guaranteed to culture shock you.
even for those who have already done/been doing cross-cultural work, I think this book is always a fresh reminder of the Biblical example we have in Christ, and that, as with all things, should be our singular focus. Who is Jesus the Christ, and how does that change the way I live my life for His glory?
19 of 25 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting concept, but poorly supported logically and doctrinally 3 April 2008
By Matthew Gunia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Ministering Cross-Culturally" is a practical book useful for all Christians, bur intended specifically for those who minister among people of another culture. Cultural differences often lead to misunderstandings and conflict as a person of one culture does not behave as a person from another culture expects. To avoid prolonged conflict, Sherwood Lingenfelter, provost and senior vice president of Fuller Theological Seminary, presents the anthropological work of Marvin Mayers and applies it to cross cultural ministry.

Marvin Mayers work analyzes cultural values and divides them into twelve dimensions. Each of these dimensions has a contrasting value, making six competing value pairs that can be plotted on a grid. Lingenfelter provides a simple test so that the reader might plot himself on a each of the six grids, and determine his personal/cultural values. These pairs of values are as follows:

Time (time conscious and punctual versus event-oriented)
Judgment (seeing the world in "black & white" versus "shades of grey)
Handling Crises (focus on preparation versus comfort thinking on your feet)
Goals (task orientation versus relationship orientation)
Individual Worth (is honor achieved by works or bestowed at birth)
Vulnerability (is it OK to show weakness?)

Lingenfelter then analyzes the six pairs of values to illustrate the similarities and differences between Western values, Yapese (from the Island of Yap, where Lingenfelter did most of his doctoral/mission work), and the values displayed by Jesus. This knowledge of our own Western values and the often-contrasting values of others is necessary to achieve the purpose Lingenftelter advances for the reader.

Should the reader find himself working or ministering to those of another culture, Lingenfelter encourages the reader to follow the example of Jesus and become incarnate within that culture. That is, just as Jesus was born into a particular (1st Century Jewish) culture, learned the language, customs, values, etc. and thereby ministered to the Jewish people, so we (as Christ's followers) ought to adopt our host culture, learn its language, values, customs, etc., and thereby equip ourselves to minister to them. Mayers' work gives us a tool by which we can understand our cultural values and the values of a host culture so that we might more easily embrace a new culture.

While the idea that missionaries should, as best as they can, live like those to whom they hope to share the Gospel, the presentation of its rationale is problematic. For one, the author's founding assumption (equating Christlikeness with adopting a local culture) is problematic as it equates horizontal righteousness with vertical righteousness. That is, ends up arguing that I can best be God-pleasing by simply adopting local values and norms. But even in this, Lingenfelter contradicts himself as he argues that we must rise above simple horizontal righteousness (12), free ourselves from our cultural prison by adopting other cultures' values (22), and even commends Jesus for NOT bowing to societal pressures (89).

Theologically, Lingenfelter does not properly interact with the doctrine of vocation and the closely-related theology of the Body of Christ. Jesus distributes many gifts to individuals within the Church so that these gifts might be used to his glory. To some he gives the gift of being task-oriented, to others he gives the gift of building relationships; to some he gives the gift of vigilance/preparedness, to others, he allows them to think well on their feet. Each is to be used to God's glory because each is necessary for the Church. One is not to be elevated over the other, but the beauty is to be found in the diversity of gifts. It can be argued that we are not to be jealous of others' gifts or try to be like them , but rather to take joy in our own gifts and use them in love.

Lingenfelter, in this short book, provides some thought-provoking anthropological analyses and encourages the reader to expand his boundries ("become a 150% person"), but the overall argument is poorly supported and doctrinally problematic. Neither recommended nor not-recommended.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Have For Anyone Ministering Cross Culturally 5 Oct 2002
By Pastor Roger - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I found this book while I was browsing Amazon back in the Spring of 2002. I sent away for a used copy of it, and I'm glad I did.
The author of this book spent a good deal of time on the Island of Yap, which is in the South Pacafic, in Micronesia. He documents his cross-cultural experiences in this book. He tells of both the good and bad of his experiences and how it strengthened him as both a Christian and minister of the gospel. He also tells of the barriers he had to cross in order to effectivey share the gospel to the people of Yap. Overall, this book is a cross between a "how-to" and a cross cultural autobiography.
Like Rev. Lingenfelter, I am also involved in cross-cultural ministry. And even though I've never been to Yap, I can understand what he went through. If you do any type of cross-cultural ministry here in America or anywhere else, youshould read this book. It may not have all of the answers you need. But it will indeed get you pointed in the right direction.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ministering Cross-Culturally 5 May 2000
By Cindy Walker - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Lingenfelter and Mayers help their readers examine the variouscultural values people encounter as they interact with people fromother cultures. The authors also provide useful tools to help readers determine their personal values. In addition, this book gives practical examples of how Christ lived out his values.
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