9   Top Three Needs In Training For Cross Cultural Ministry

<p>While we were  learning the Sindhi language in Pakistan  during the 1980s my wife, Karen, tried to discover the word for  &quot;share&quot; and was given a word essentially equivalent to the English  &quot;give&quot;. The problem was that &quot;share&quot; is a concept based on  a principle of individual ownership and the permission required for another to  use another’s possession. In our Canadian culture, when an object moves from  one person to another, ownership remains with the person to whom the object  belongs. In such a setting &quot;sharing&quot; makes sense as it is based on a  principle of ownership highly valued in cultures that consider the freedom and  rights of the individual preeminent. However, where ownership is more communal  and the concerns of the community take precedent over the individual, the  concept of ownership of objects has less importance than the need of the  community member who has access to the object at that moment in time.&nbsp; This cultural value difference is obvious in  the frustration of people from our culture who are faced with the  &quot;theft&quot; of many objects by friends and servants while residing in Pakistan.</p>
  <p>This situation demonstrates only one aspect of the  myriad challenges that face those who seek to communicate the gospel  cross-culturally which are <em>in addition to</em> all the challenges that anyone ministering within her / his own culture will  face.&nbsp; To &quot;preach Christ&quot;  cross-culturally means entering into a new dimension of understanding and  relating in which the communicator experiences a radical shift in the  assumptions and &quot;self-evident truths&quot; previously relied on to  communicate the message.&nbsp; Those who  desire to make a gospel impact must learn anew what the Lordship of Christ  means within the &quot;narrative&quot; of a community that is foreign to the  &quot;narrative&quot; of their own culture.&nbsp;  How can people be trained adequately to face such challenges and be  prepared to live, relate and communicate cross-culturally?&nbsp; How can people be prepared to survive,  adjust, assimilate and participate significantly in a reality different from  their &quot;normal&quot; world?</p>
  <p>In order to explore this challenge and discover the  priorities leaders in cross-cultural training are making in preparing people  for cross-cultural gospel communication, I posed the following question: What  would you list as the top three needs for training in cross-cultural  ministry?&nbsp; The following is the result of  that survey.&nbsp; For the sake of clarity and  to reduce redundancy, I have taken the liberty of condensing the responses to  the following items which are categorized but not prioritized.</p>
  <h3>Spiritual Formation concerns</h3>
<p><em>Cross-cultural workers need to be trained:</em></p>
<p>- to develop, maintain, and  enhance their spiritual walk in contexts that often lack the immediate support  of a faith community. This requires a holistic understanding of spirituality:  emotional, social, mental, moral, physical.</p>
<p>- to recognize and foster  appropriate character traits and spiritual vitality in a cross-cultural  ministry environment.</p>
<p>- to use and develop their  spiritual gifts in a variety of settings.</p>
<p>- to recognize and adjust to  their personal strengths and weaknesses in the stress of unfamiliar settings.</p>
<p>- in radical discipleship.  True discipleship involves a crucified mentality, intimacy with the Lord, and  persevering through suffering and all types of character formation tests.</p>
<h3>Adaptation skills</h3>
<p><em>Cross-cultural workers need to be trained:</em></p>
<p>- to understand, adapt to,  and in specific scenarios even adopt the host culture.</p>
<p>- to manage time and family  in a cross-cultural environment often with little immediate accountability.</p>
<p>- through first hand  experience in local setting and not just as &quot;armchair  missiologists&quot;.&nbsp; If the trainee  lives with a family and pays room and board to remove the stress of finances  for the host, she / he will receive willing help with cultural issues.&nbsp; The trainee will develop a sense of the pace  of the culture and learn cultural means in dealing with conflict.</p>
<p>- under the mentoring of a  national leader who is capable, dedicated and empathetic.</p>
<p>- in the presence of one who  is an appropriate example of a competent cross-cultural minister.</p>
<h3>Relationship skills</h3>
<p><em>Cross-cultural workers need to be trained:</em></p>
<p>- to develop effective  interpersonal relational skills that enable them to cultivate significant  relationships in unfamiliar cultural settings.</p>
<p>- in community living by  putting into practice the &quot;one anothers&quot;, peacemaking and conflict  resolution.&nbsp; Western culture values  independence which can produce attitudes and actions detrimental to the gospel  and be a stumbling block to participation in others’ lives. The inability to  recognize or renounce an ingrained value of independence can cause the  cross-cultural worker to fail to build important relational bridges because of  their refusal to enter into interdependent relationships.</p>
<p>- through mentored  experiences in cross-cultural living and interaction.</p>
<p>- in teamwork with their  colleagues. Working with other missionaries or national believers can be one of  the most important tests of one’s ministry.</p>
<h3>Communication skills</h3>
<p><em>Cross-cultural workers need to be trained:</em></p>
<p>- to relevantly and  effectively contextualize the gospel.</p>
<p>- in apologetics: Biblical  knowledge and the ability to answer basic questions about the gospel.</p>
<p>- in language acquisition  skills.</p>
<p>- to develop culturally  sensitive communication skills.</p>
<p>- through mentored  experiences of intercultural communication.</p>
<h3>Cultural sensitivity development</h3>
<p><em>Cross-cultural workers need to be trained:</em></p>
<p>- to recognize and avoid North American  cultural weaknesses (e.g.&nbsp;  aggressiveness, materialism and &quot;in your face&quot; confrontational  approaches).</p>
<p>- to develop an appreciation  for cultural diversity and a recognition that God endorses <em>all</em> cultures.</p>
<p>- to perceive the ways  religion is at the heart of cultural bias – using the <em>functional</em> model to understand the way religion distorts culture.</p>
<p>- to relate relevantly in a  Shame/honor culture.&nbsp; Western culture is  guilt/righteousness oriented.</p>
<p>- in anthropology / sociology  so that cross-cultural workers can understand the function of cultures, work  with them and adapt to them.</p>
<p>- in the religion and  worldview of the people they plan to live among. Knowing the beliefs of the  people they want to impact – both the ideal and the actual – is an important  prerequisite.</p>
<p>- to develop tools needed to  acquire cross-cultural understanding.</p>
<p>- to discern the impact of  one’s own self – family, cultural, ethnic, personality, church backgrounds – in  cross-cultural ministry.</p>
<p>- in legitimate biblical  hermeneutics, so that one’s own cultural perspectives do not hamper the  inculturation of the gospel in another cultural setting.</p>
<p>- to recognize both the  values that provide a foundation to their lives and the legitimate values  expressed in the host culture.</p>
<h3>Attitudes</h3>
<p><em>Cross-cultural workers need to be trained:</em></p>
<p>- to be learners continually,  throughout life.&nbsp; A great weakness of  training people out of context is that once the training is complete, they then  enter their host environment with a focus on contributing and being significant.&nbsp; To lose the attitude of being a learner, a  guest, a stranger is to lose the legitimacy that allows one to relate to the  culture in a healthy way.</p>
<p>- to be Observers.  Missionaries should be the most curious group on the earth trying to figure out  why people do what they do.&nbsp; It is not  until the <em>meaning</em> of their actions  comes clear that the gospel can be significantly related to those actions and  beliefs.</p>
<p>- to cultivate a long haul  mentality. While it runs contrary to today’s trends, in resistant  countries&nbsp; a commitment to long term stay  in building relationships within the culture is essential. </p>

Mark Naylor

About Mark Naylor

I have been with Fellowship International since 1984. Karen and I served in Pakistan for 14 years and returned to Canada in 1999. I have continued to be involved in Bible translation traveling twice a year to Pakistan. My current role with Fellowship International and Northwest Baptist Seminary is as Coordinator of International Leadership Development
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