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Mark Naylor M.Th.

Top Ten Countdown of Cultural Lessons (1-2)

Jarrod Haas is a student in the Cross-cultural Leadership Training Program, CLTP @ Northwest, working towards an undergrad level diploma in preparation for cross-cultural ministry among Asians. [singlepic=163,320,240,,right] CLTP is a one year, mentored, experienced based program that prepares the student for Master’s level seminary studies as well as equips them for ministry either internationally or in Canada. He is currently on a short-term missions trip in Korea to complete his year of studies. This series of blogs are sections taken from one of his papers (edited with permission) entitled 10 Lessons in Crossing Culture. These ten points outline the major cross-cultural lessons that Jarrod has learned through the CLTP program, which, along with his academic studies, included involvement with International Students Ministries Canada, Gateway and a local Korean Church.

2. In order to successfully plug in to a culture, I must spend time to get to know people

bridging a culture is the depth of relationships with people in that culture

This seems obvious. However, I have learned that the deception surrounding this issue can be subtle. Although I spent time around people at the Korean church, I needed to expend more prayer, energy, and intention being with people. My time at this church has connected me more solidly with the principle that success at bridging a culture is the depth of relationships with people in that culture. This means not just spending time doing church ministry together, but spending time together doing other things as well. Lingenfelter states:

We cannot hold office hours for the people to whom Christ has called us to minister. We must adjust our time schedules, meeting them whenever they have need and turning to our own tasks only after we have completed our ministry to them…1

One important key here, I believe, is the discipline it takes to get the work done efficiently and at the times God gives. Thus I have been convicted of the importance of time management. Disciplined time management ensures that the windows needed to spend time with people are available and stress-free. In addition to this, prayer combined with focused intent to build relationships provides the means to dig into culture and become a part of it. I think Paul was quite familiar with all of this. He wrote to the Thessalonians (2:8,11-12):

We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us…we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you to live lives worthy of God…

and he also said to the Ephesians (5:14-15): “Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil.”

1. The most important lessons in cross-cultural ministry are still the most basic lessons.

While knowledge regarding contextualization, cultural practices, and language acquisition skills is essential, the real heart of cross-cultural ministry remains the same in any situation. I would argue that there are 3 interrelated values that form this core. First, we are called to walk by the Spirit, and not by the flesh (Galatians 5:16-26). This overcoming of sin and Satan in our lives is fundamental to the effective witness of the Gospel (1 Corinthians 9:27). Overcoming sin is also essential to the second value: our capacity to love and serve others. Third, as we love and serve others and overcome sin, our obedience to God proceeds towards fullness.

the foundation of missions: Christian unity

Philippians 2:1-8 reveals that this fullness of obedience to Christ characterizes our unity. In turn, Christ emphasized unity is essential to our mission in John 17:21: “that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me” and also in John 13:35: “by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” Together, these principles of victory over sin, love and submission to each other, and submission to Christ form the foundation of missions: Christian unity. I do not recall encountering teaching that integrated the concepts of missions in this way.2 It was in the absence of emphasis on the connectedness of these topics this semester that prompted me to think about how basic Scriptural teaching impacts the missionary endeavour. This has been very beneficial to me, because I believe that I can now better integrate these concepts with the other missions theology and concepts I am learning.

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  • 1Lingenfelter & Mayers, Ministering Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships 88.
  • 2However see A Vision for the Sending of the Church in North America. Darrell L. Guder, ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1998 and Van Gelder, C. The Essence of the Church. Grand Rapids: Baker Press, 2001

2 Responses to “Top Ten Countdown of Cultural Lessons (1-2)”


  • Corrected typo: Paul was familiar with this 1 Thess 2:8;11-12.

    What if the person, with the right initial motive, spends enough time with the lost of another culture that the first person (originally seeking to minister effectively more often) starts to “love the lost of the other culture. Matt 6:21 “for where your treasures (time and money) are, there your heart is also.”

    I have served at Tabernacle Baptist of Shoreline for decades as a lay person. I often heard pastors warn zealous teens to beware of wrong friends. This may be an a-Biblical warning and a balanced direct application of the Bible’s “guard your heart”. If so, then the issue for zealous adult Christians is how to balance outreach and “guarding my heart”.

    Examples of my concern:

    A. I have avoided gardening for 20 years. I do not hate it, I just have never taken myself away from church activities, personal Bible study, etc. To make evangelism contacts, for this last month I twice volunteered to help an elderly couple with their garden. I found myself liking them as much as I like those in my church.

    B. I have been a sloth regarding housework, for the same reasons. When 4 mature Christians expressed their concern, I started spring cleaning. I found my emotions reflect the truth in that single non-person situation Mt 6:21 for where your treasures are, there your heart is also. I like housework, for the better look. The time put into housework and information organization, coupled with my lacking the disciplined time management mentioned by the NBS student, means I have not visited a 98 year old Christian lady who “adopted” me in a month.

    SUMMARY Are there techniques to improve time management, as implied by “number your days… ? Is distracting interest (NOT preoccupation) with gardening or housework symptomatic of loving the world or the things of the world 1 Jn 2:15?

  • David,
    Thanks for your reply and for the correction to the typo.
    My response to your question would be to distinguish gardening and housework from the message of John in 1 Jn 2:15. I believe that John is speaking about desires that draw us away from God, undermine our relationship to him and cause us to live by principles of death, rather than life. The “things of the world” are the things condemned by Jesus, those things that cause us to devalue people and ignore God. However, gardening is the first gift that God gave to Adam and work is also a blessing from God. We are called to be faithful in whatever endeavor we put our hand to and do it to his glory. It is how we do our work and how we relate to God and people through our work that demonstrates our discipleship and lives out our worship.
    Mark

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