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Ministering Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  656 ratings  ·  56 reviews
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 o
Paperback, 128 pages
Published October 1st 2003 by Baker Academic (first published 1986)
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Tom Law
Nov 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Each of us live in and are part of a culture in which we have been raised and which we think as normative. Mayers postulated that culture is made up of six different continuums: time/event; dichotomistic/holistic; crisis/noncrisis; task/person; and status/achievement. It is the collection of these continuums and their interactions that we understand to be culture. As groups of people coalesce around commonalities in these continuums we identify them as separate cultures. Since each of us is uniq ...more
Megan Knippenberg
Oct 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I really appreciated this book. It helped to highlight cultural variations that I knew existed but didn't know how to explain. If you ever go on a short or long-term missions trip or move to another country, this book is a must-read. It helped me understand a little bit more about American culture and my orientation in different areas. Also, loved Ligenfelter's idea about becoming a "150 percent" person. (We can adapt ourselves to fit two different cultures, but he theorized that it is impossibl ...more
Erin Grasse
Aug 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religion
I really appreciated Lingenfelter's explanations and examples for each of the basic value pairs, and I had several "Aha!" moments while reading that I hope will come in handy in my future ministry work! My main issue is that this book was clearly written for the purposes of evangelism, which didn't sit well with my own rather anti-evangelistic, more pluralistic stance.

I wholeheartedly agree that becoming culturally competent is a wonderful way of learning how to express God's love in a variety
Jun 12, 2012 rated it liked it
I actually read this book twice, and the first time I was blown away. The second time it seemed a bit repetitive (overall message: "be more culturally sensitive"), but maybe that's what naturally happens when reading a book a second time. I think I was also turned off the second time because it seemed to oversimplify cross-cultural problems that you'll undoubtedly face. It really was general and actually didn't help you in the practical matters. The first time I read it I was blown away because ...more
Mar 12, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: christian
The author argues that we should model our missions work on the incarnational ministry of Jesus (who was the "200% man" -- fully man and fully God). He argues that we are unable to achieve this level of integration into a host culture, but we should seek to be "150% men," sacrificing some of our own culture and adapting to the host culture.

He argues that without the redemptive power of Christ, all cultures naturally lead us to judge, exclude, and reject and are a prison which we must break free
This was the second or third time I read this book (first time over 12 years ago). It wasn't quite as fascinating or great as the first time I read it or the times I've referenced it since then, but it's still an excellent and very valuable introductory book on understanding different cultures and how to minister across/through cultural barriers.

The basic premise is that different cultures can be understood as promoting different values, and those values can be contrasted to our own cultural (o
John (JP)
May 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book invites you to examine yourself from the viewpoint of being an alien in a new culture. The subject of the books the tensioning conflicts people experience when they try to work with people from a different cultural and social backgrounds. While the intended audience of this book is for those doing Christian missionary work in foreign countries, the principles discussed can be universally applied by anyone assigned to work abroad. The authors Lingenfelter and Mayers use a model of basic ...more
Jul 30, 2016 rated it liked it
The good: The book gave me a few new categories for understanding cultural differences. It was short and to the point.

The bad: The discussion was fairly shallow. So while the author helps readers UNDERSTAND some of the major differences in cultures, he doesn't really go into enough depth to help his readers CROSS these differences and to work more effectively within them.

I also didn't agree with some of the author's biblical and theological reasoning. For example, he argues that the OT prophets
Katie Sargent
In “Ministering Cross-Culturally,” Sherwood Lingenfelter deals with the tension and conflict that is experienced in cross-cultural ministry by using the incarnation as a model. He points out how Jesus came as an infant and a learner suggesting that this too is how believers ought to approach culture. Lingenfelter defines incarnational ministry as a willingness to learn as if we were helpless infants, and claims that the essence of the incarnation is "entering the cultural prison of others and su ...more
Allen Jr.
Jun 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Lingenfelter presents a helpful, yet simple paradigm for considering various aspects of personal and cultural differences which I have found useful in my own experiences of living and working with teams around the world. I appreciate that his exploration is not at all technical, making this book an easy read and very approachable by a wide audience.

The brief sections on biblical perspective and reflections from the life of Jesus are okay, but not superb. The suggested applications to those worki
Vitaly Osipov
Oct 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-books
Christian missionaries are the world authorities on foreign cultures, plus their books are a much more lively read than anthropologists'. Of course one might want to signore the purely religious parts of a book written by and for mission workers, but this is a quite small inconvenience in comparison to the depth of the insights. Besides, practically all books have, so to speak, filler in addition to the meat.

This particular book juxtaposes Western (rather USA) culture with a Pacific one (Yap) on
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a great book. And it is short which is nice. I recommend it to any Christian living in a city and any person living as an expat.
Lingenfelter takes Marvin Mayers's 6 pairs of contrasting priorities in culture and fleshes those concepts out with stories of real life cultural clashes, mistakes, and misunderstandings in the Yapese (in Micronesia), Chadian, and Mexican cultures. Lingenfelter doesn't get much into quantitative side of the research, and that is on purpose. Instead the thrust o
Feb 21, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great book. And it is short which is nice. I recommend it to any Christian living in a city and any person living as an expat.
Lingenfelter takes Marvin Mayers's 6 pairs of contrasting priorities in culture and fleshes those concepts out with stories of real life cultural clashes, mistakes, and misunderstandings in the Yapese (in Micronesia), Chadian, and Mexican cultures. Lingenfelter doesn't get much into quantitative side of the research, and that is on purpose. Instead the thrust o
Dec 10, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I give this books three stars for chapter 1, which is about God's humility and love in becoming a human, and what that means for those of us who strive to follow Jesus. The rest of the chapters all had valid foundations (especially time, self-worth, and vulnerability!), but often came to conclusions that I didn't necessarily agree with. The main disagreement that I have with this book is its comparison of culture to language as an imperfect, but neutral tool. I pretty strongly believe that all c ...more
Jan 25, 2015 rated it liked it
I read this book for an upcoming mission trip and combined with my other readings for this trip, this book gave me insights for both my daily life and my upcoming trip. In this book, you complete an inventory and measure where you fall within certain spectrums. The book then goes on to explain differing cultural models/examples in relation to time, crises, relationships, etc. Although this was not the book's intent, I gleaned why I have such a problem with American business models/education syst ...more
Jun 12, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: wasted-time
I read this book several years ago at a time when I was beginning my cross-cultural experiences, so I was expecting the information to be useful eventually and practical ultimately. Since then I have had several experiences of being in multi-cultural/cross-cultural settings, and from time to time I would review the book for insight into a problem but have found that it is only mildly helpful. It just doesn't explore the issues deep enough for enrichment. Sadly, it contains one major fallacy: tha ...more
Helpful When Crossing Cultures

If there were decimal points, I probably would have rated this book at a 4.5. Using examples from the Micronesian culture of Yap, the author dissects and examines some basic systems of values that make can be found in cultures worldwide. He then goes on to examine the life of Christ and to hypothesize how His example would measure up to each pair of contrasting cultural values. I think this book would be a valuable tool to have whenever one is interfacing with a new
Andy Volk
Oct 21, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone entering another culture
I liked this book. It talks about the many tensions of interpersonal relationships in a cross-cultural context. I feel like I learned a lot from this book. I learned plenty about my own personality and realized many ways which I misunderstood Spaniards during my time in Las Palmas. I would recomend this book to anyone spending even a brief period in another culture.
It has also affected how I view and interact those within my own culture.
Nov 16, 2008 rated it really liked it
I found this book to be very helpful. The main emphasis of the book is that when ministering cross-culturally we need to try and see things from the perspective of those we are ministering instead of assuming they see everything from our perspective. The author states that many things that are different in other cultures we may initially have a reaction that says "that's wrong" when in reality it is only different. We must discern the difference between wrong and different. ...more
Mar 07, 2011 rated it liked it
Another book to challenge my cultural and Christian viewpoint. I wasn't so sure about his "150% person" thing...a little unclear as to what he really means... Also I think the survey to reach our own spot on the scales was a little inaccurate. I do not think a lot of the questions accurately gauged the orientation. As I read the explanations I felt my personal leaning was really quite different from what the limited survey showed me to be. ...more
Paul Kelly
Jul 29, 2011 rated it liked it
Good primer for folks who are preparing to do ministry across cultures. The author deals with issues such as event time v. clock time, high v. low vulnerability, goal orientation v. people orientation. His call to "sit at the feet of the culture" is inspiring. The author seems to talk a lot about his experience in Yap; he does not do much discussion about the variety of cultures, but perhaps that is not the purpose of the book. ...more
Melissa Oliver
Aug 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
This book was so interesting! It put into words what I've been trying to explain to people for two years now. I loved the ideas and insights. It's only not 5 stars because of the readability. Some of it was just too wordy or complex. Simplify and lighten up a bit, and you're golden, Lingenfelter. ...more
An introduction to cross-cultural understanding based on traits model of culture. While cultural competence requires much more than this, it's a helpful start, particularly for those coming from a mainstream North American culture who might say "I have no culture" when asked to describe theirs to someone else! ...more
Jan 21, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: culture, christian
Enlightening! Author speaks from his experience living among the Yapese, contrasting their culture with the Caucasian-American culture he grew up with in several aspects: orientation to time, crisis, vulnerability, and more deep values.
Aug 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Pretty good book and there are some things here about teaching crossculturally that I liked and found helpful. It is worth the read if you read it all. Some things did not have a "wow" impact, but I did not waste my time or money on this book. I learned something. ...more
Feb 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: studies
I'm not a "missions person" and really have never gotten along well with them, but I genuinely think that every Christian should read this book. There are so many non-issues he raises which I see believers blowing out of proportion in our culture. Helpful and insightful. ...more
Steph Nannen
I found this book helpful in the way it identifies and names competing values across cultures. I appreciate the way the author affirms non-Western values, and shows how two values can appear to be in tension or even be opposites, and yet both can be biblical.
Talbot Course: Evangelism and Follow-up
Jan 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Christ as model. Basic intro for ministering cross-culturally.
Seth Westhoff
Jun 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed the insights and advice learned from experience that was shared. Simple and easy to understand, it's a great read for anyone serving cross-culturally ! ...more
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“The second step in incarnation is to accept the host culture as a valid, albeit imperfect, way of life. It is useful to remember that culture is basically a set of conceptual tools and social arrangements that people use to adapt to their environment and to order their lives in the pursuit of food, shelter, and family and community relationships.” 0 likes
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