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Ministering Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships [Paperback]

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Item description for Ministering Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships by Sherwood G. Lingenfelter & Marvin Keene Mayers...

Become salt and light in a multiethnic world by Ministering Cross-Culturally! Now completely revised and updated, Sherwood Lingenfelter and Marvin Mayers's astute study shows how Jesus served those of different backgrounds and provides a biblical model for relieving cultural conflicts. Their stimulating insights help you identify your own biases so that you can break through boundaries and forge relationships marked by understanding and respect.

Publishers Description
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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Item Specifications...

Studio: Baker Academic
Pages   128
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.4"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2003
Publisher   Baker Academic
Edition  Reprinted  
ISBN  0801026474  
ISBN13  9780801026478  

Availability  64 units.
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More About Sherwood G. Lingenfelter & Marvin Keene Mayers

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Sherwood G. Lingenfelter (PhD, University of Pittsburgh) is provost emeritus and senior professor of anthropology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Marvin K. Mayers (1927-2015; PhD, University of Chicago) founded the Cook School of Intercultural Studies at Biola University, where he taught for many years.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Clergy > Ministry
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Evangelism > Missions & Missionary Work

Christian Product Categories
Books > Church & Ministry > Church Life > Missions

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Reviews - What do customers think about Ministering Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships?

Interesting concept, but poorly supported logically and doctrinally  Apr 3, 2008
"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.
very helpful for those ministering in other cultures  Apr 6, 2007
I have studied and prepared for overseas mission work in the past, and this book was not on my list. After reading it, i am recommending it for others i know in training. It reviews many of the factors that influence how we relate to others and is quite eye opening.
The classic text, but some problems  Mar 23, 2007
The objective of Ministering Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Personal Relationships, according to the authors' statement on page 124, is "to show that the incarnation of Christ is a model for missionary and other Christian ministry." The book is essentially an interpretation by Sherwood Lingenfelter of Marvin Mayers' model of basic values and the relation of this model to incarnational ministry. On page 14, Lingenfelter states that his goal is to "share some of the conflicts and struggles that [he] experienced and to explore their meaning for the larger issues of cross-cultural living, work, and ministry... [by going] beyond specific personal experiences to the underlying principles of culture and communication," through which interpersonal relationships are maintained. He claims, as a central thesis, the universality of Scripture and the love example of Jesus Christ.
While, for the most part, Lingenfelter's thoughts were well-reasoned and insightful, there were some concepts that were uncomfortably flawed or biased.
The first area of consideration is that of generalizations. Perhaps one of the most obvious examples of this was the conclusion drawn by the author upon finishing a study at the State University of New York College at Brockport. On page 48, Lingenfelter notes that, because those surveyed tended to be event-oriented, "American college students today are not as time-conscious and as highly motivated to keep a schedule as their culture would want them to be." It would seem that the students in one school in the northeastern comer of the United States are hardly a representative sample of American college students as a whole.
While not as glaring as this assertion, there are many other areas where Lingenfelter makes broad generalizations. Throughout the text, he shares some observations about American and Micronesian culture that seem to be more sweeping than research might warrant. Wisely, the author explains on page 48, that "there are individuals in every culture who are at variance with the pattern of the whole." This is an important disclaimer, but, having made it, Lingenfelter proceeds to made statements about culture as a whole. Aside from being statistically uncomfortable, this practice chips away at the thesis he is advancing. If the goal of the missionary is to become incarnate in his host culture, is he to adopt the practices of the majority of the culture, of the individuals with whom he is working most closely or of someone else? To inculcate the attitudes, thought processes and behaviors of a slight majority of a native population may result in isolation from the large minority segments of the culture.
The most disturbing biases, however, were those that Lingenfelter exhibited in drawing his conclusions at the end of each chapter. The perceived goal of this book was to assist the reader in becoming more balanced in his thinking and moving toward the goal of following Christ's example of being a "200 percent" person, fully integrated into both one's home culture and host culture. The assertion is that one is to develop balance, yet Lingenfelter gives very unbalanced presentations relating to each of the matrices of Mayors' model. He assumes that his readers are ingrained in "Western" thought patterns and spends the vast majority of his time celebrating the viewpoints of Yapese culture as being more closely aligned to Biblical teaching, while denying the value of traditional Western attitudes and behaviors.
This bias is practiced throughout the book, but a few striking examples should be noted. On pages 62-64, Lingenfelter gives more than ample space to a discussion of how Jesus and the disciples were holistic rather than dichotomistic in their judgments. He writes: "The Gospel writings suggest that as Jesus taught he utilized right-hemisphere, pictorial, concrete, holistic, and analogic strategies rather than left-hemisphere, verbal, abstract, dichotomistic, and analytic thought." As proof of this point, he cites Christ's use of concrete analogy, parable, current issues and personal case studies in His ministry. In contrast, the author gives only a token mention to Paul, who argued almost entirely from a Greco-Roman perspective and presented the Christian faith in an arena of logic and rationale, a very left-hemisphere, "dichotomistic" pattern. Obviously, the content of the Gospel needs to be communicated in a way that relates to the host culture, but to imply that Jesus' method of communication to the Jews was superior to Paul's method of communication to the Gentiles is to ignore the evidence of Scripture.
The third noted problem was that of strained or questionable analogies. On page 16, Lingenfelter notes that "Jesus came as a helpless infant" and that it is significant that "Jesus was a learner." While Christ gives an excellent example for cross-cultural ministers to follow, it must be understood that it is impossible to become a literal infant in a different culture. This is an advantage that Christ had that is unavailable to the missionary today. The minister can seek to develop a childlike attitude toward learning, but one must realize that he or she cannot fully incarnate himself into a host culture in the way that Jesus did. To draw all direction for cross-cultural ministry from the external practices of Jesus is to limit the way that God can work in non-Jewish cultures. Lingenfelter's assertion, on page 24, that "we are to become incarnate in the cultures to which we are sent" is a valid one, as is his recognition that we will never attain the full balance of incarnation that Christ achieved in His ministry on earth.
On the whole, Lingenfelter presents a valuable tool for self-understanding, but his work should be read carefully and critically and should be balanced with works by authors such as Harriet Hill, who advance the limitations of the incarnational model.

Great resource for any Christian  Feb 14, 2007
This book is one that I would recommend to any Christian who encounters someone from a different culture (hopefully that means all Christians). This book helps the believer to understand how to be more like Christ, who came to our world as a different culture. It helps the reader to recognize how our own culture is often deterministic of how we view others and how we act, even in things as simple as what time we arrive at a meeting. This is a must read for anyone who will do missions. I read it as a counselor and have recommended it to many people in the church.
Ministering Cross Culturally  Jan 19, 2007
This is a helpful book to give an introduction to how culture not only shapes others, but our own thinking. Understanding this is critical to thougthfully crossing cultures. The book is not exhaustive in the areas a culture shapes, but is a helpful start.

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