Duane Elmer asked people around the world how they felt about Western missionaries. The response? "Missionaries could be more effective if they did not think they were better than us."
The last thing we want to do in cross-cultural ministry is to offend people in other cultures. Unfortunately, all too often and even though we don't mean it, our actions communicate superiority, paternalism, imperialism and arrogance. Our best intentions become unintentional insults. How can we minister in ways that are received as true Christlike service?
Cross-cultural specialist Duane Elmer gives Christians practical advice for serving other cultures with sensitivity and humility. With careful biblical exposition and keen cross-cultural awareness, he shows how our actions and attitudes often contradict and offend the local culture. He offers principles and guidance for avoiding misunderstandings and building relationships in ways that honor others. Here is culturally-savvy insight into how we can follow Jesus' steps to become global servants.
Whether you're going on your first short-term mission trip or ministering overseas for extended periods, this useful guide is essential reading for anyone who wants to serve effectively in international settings with grace and sensitivity.
“Acceptance is the ability to communicate value, worth and esteem to another person.” (source)
“Definition. Trust is the ability to build confidence in a relationship so that both parties believe the other will not intentionally hurt them but will act in their best interest.” (source)
“‘Missionaries could more effectively minister the gospel of Christ if they did not think they were so superior to us.’” (source)
“The ways we are effective in culture are also the primary ways we serve others. We serve people by entering into a relationship of love and mutual commitment.” (source)
“I can think of only one reason Jesus came as a servant: it is the very nature of God to serve.” (source)
Duane Elmer has created a gem! This latest of his creations reminds us that Duane writes stories rather than documents. The reader will discover in Cross-Cultural Servanthood a delightful encounter with people, places and situations. The examples and reflections that come through these pages shine with the warmth and reality of letters from a close friend. But this is no ordinary friend--Dr. Elmer sheds light on cultural mysteries. His experiences as a missionary, teacher, consultant, school administrator and quite surely a researcher who 'gets to the bottom' of the curious events that pepper these stories reveal a depth of understanding that makes this book shine.
The choice of servanthood reveals the fundamental difference in Dr. Elmer's understanding of the cross-cultural situation. Others have written of the information-flow task from one culture toward another, the management dimensions of intercultural affairs and the quest for excellence in intercultural experiences. Note that each of these assumes that the intercultural encounter calls for a series of top-down skills moving from foreignness toward control. Not Duane Elmer. Choosing Christian styles and biblical sources, he develops applications of principles that ring true, reflecting the warmth and wholeness of sound interpersonal affiliation. This is the strong stuff that overcomes the differences, tensions and conflicts that otherwise will plague the intercultural environment. The key is adopting the posture, manner and style of a loyal servant.
--Ted Ward, Professor Emeritus of Education and Intercultural Studies, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and Michigan State University
Elmer provides a fresh and provocative look at learning and ministering cross-culturally through the scriptural mandate to be servants of the master engaged in kingdom work. Noting that the practice of servanthood must vary in every culture, the book provides powerful and practical insights into how to become an effective servant in another culture. This is an excellent resource for practical mission training, and for those already in ministry, the book enables willing servants to sharpen their emotional and behavioral practices to more appropriate contextualized servanthood.
--Sherwood Lingenfelter, Provost, Senior Vice President and Professor of Anthropology, Fuller Theological Seminary, and coauthor of Ministering Cross-Culturally
As the Son of God entered first-century Jewish culture and discerned and used its expressions of servanthood--a basin and a towel--to communicate the nature of his Heavenly Father, Duane Elmer draws helpfully from Scripture and his broad experience to help us enter another culture today and discern and use its expressions of servanthood to communicate the nature of our Heavenly Father as well.
--J. Dudley Woodberry, Dean Emeritus and Professor of Islamic Studies, School of Intercultural Studies, Fuller Theological Seminary
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