Lecture 6 – Understanding Culture and Developing Cross-cultural Relationships

  1. Recognize the definition of culture
    Culture is an integrated system of learned behavior and thinking patterns that are characteristic of the members of any given society. Culture refers to the total way of life of particular groups of people. It includes everything that a group of people thinks, says, does, and makes – its systems of attitudes and feelings. Culture is learned and transmitted from generation to generation.
  2. 1. Recognize how understanding culture enhances our worship of God. (Sect. 39)
    • 39.3 Culture is an expression of the diversity of God
    • No one culture contains the full expression of God’s character. Together cultures enhance our appreciation for who God is.
    • 31.3.1. Different cultures emphasize different values, both of which can be biblical.

    39.4 Every culture is fallen but contains reflections of the character of God. (Culture is not absolute.)
  3. Recognize how conflicts occur because of cultural misunderstandings and the attitudes and skills that are
    helpful and unhelpful in loving cross-culturally and building successful cross-cultural relationships. (Sect.
    • 40.1 Love is culturally defined
    • • To better love people, we need to understand their culture and how they define love (their love language). Can we truly love someone we do not in some measure understand? Love requires some understanding of its object.
    • • E.g., American Christians often view missions as a way of “helping people.” In cultures that value humility, such “helping” is often viewed as aggressive, superior and not humble.

    40.2 Conflicts occur because of cultural misunderstandings

    • Our attitudes in entering another culture will affect our conclusions drawn from our experiences.
    • The problem of negative attribution
    • Six essential attitudes necessary to love cross-culturally • Openness – welcoming people into your life by making space for them • Acceptance – placing value on people and communicating respect for them • Trust – over time building someone’s confidence that our intentions are honorable • Learning – gaining vital information through relationships with others • Understanding – seeing how things fit together through another’s eyes • Serving – helping others to reach their potential by meeting needs in humble ways
    • Helpful skills in building successful cross-cultural relationships
    • • Willingness to try new things and have new experiences
    • • Suspending judgment/avoiding negative attribution/practicing positive attribution
    • • Language study
    • • Expansion of category width and avoidance of dogmatism
    • • Admitting wrongs, learning culturally appropriate way to express and receive forgiveness; clarifying misunderstanding
    • • Learn about others through personal study; learning from others in a teachable way; learning with others in mutual sharing
    • • Listening carefully and responding wisely • Recognizing and overcoming egocentrism and ethnocentrism
    • 40.2.4 Ethnocentrism is a sin
    • Ethnocentrism is the belief that your own culture is superior. It causes you to make value judgments about another culture from perspectives of your own cultural system.
  4. Contrast (in 3 paragraphs) the Western and Non-Western methods of communicating and of handling
    conflict (Sect. 40.3.1). And contrast the Western and non-Western differences for any three of the six other
    major cultural areas that affect relationships (in 2 sentences per area). (Sect. 40.3.2–40.3.7).
    • 40.3 Major Western and Non-Western cultural differences that affect relationships
    • 40.3.1
    • Direct vs. Indirect methods of communication Western styles of communication are more direct Non-Western styles of communication are more indirect
    • Statements that illustrate the value of Direct Communication • Tell it like it is
    • • Don’t beat around the bush • Put your cards on the table • Give it to me straight • Be up front with me
    • • Lay it on the line • Level with me • Straight from the horse’s mouth
    • • • •
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    • Advantages of Direct Communication Decreases the possibility of misunderstanding When it works out, it strengthens the relationship Is more time efficient
    • Disadvantages of Direct Communication Increases the possibility of wounding someone Can create distance in the relationship Places blame
    • Advantages of Indirect Communication Decreases the possibility of wounding Can create closeness in the relationship Reduces blame
    • Disadvantages of Indirect Communication Increases the possibility of misunderstanding When it does not work out, it weakens the relationship Is less time efficient
    • handling conflict
    • Western Styles • Win-Lose Strategy
    • • Carefronting (Matthew 18 model)
    • Non-Western Styles
    • Differences in Direct and Indirect Communication are reflected in ways of
    • • • • •
    • Mediator The Down One position and Vulnerability (honor/shame) Storytelling and Proverbs Inaction, Misdirection, and Silence
    • 40.3.2
    • 40.3.3
    • 40.3.4
    • 40.3.5
    • 40.3.6
    • 40.3.7
    • • •
    • • •
    • • •
    • • •
    • • •
    • • •
    • Individualism vs. Collectivism
    • Westerners are extremely individualistic. They tend to “look out for number one”, emphasize personal preferences and tend to be more impatient. The individual is responsible for his/her own actions and takes pride in his/her own efforts.
    • Non-Westerners emphasize unity. The group is more important than the individual. When an individual does something that brings pride or shame, the group is affected in the same way.
    • Sense of Time
    • Westerners are extremely focused on time, right down to the minute. They have a more present or future orientation to time. Time is broken down into small segments. They emphasize productivity, accomplishments, being effective and efficient.
    • Non-Westerners are more laid back about time. 7 p.m. may mean 7:30 or 8 or 9 p.m. Their past orientation to time values preserving culture and history. Time is more fluid and not broken into small segments. People do not make a lot of plans but are spontaneous and flexible. They emphasize opportunities. Spending time with people is the main goal rather than accomplishing a task together. Scheduling an appointment with someone implies a business relationship rather than a friendship.
    • View of Authority
    • Westerners respect authority less and have relationships that are more egalitarian and informal.
    • Non-Westerners respect authority more and have relationships that are more hierarchical and formal. Being informal can mean disrespect.
    • View of Change Westerners tend to embrace change and are used to it. Social progress is valued. Non-Westerners tend to resist change. Preserving culture and society is very important.
    • Respect for Age Westerners respect and celebrate youth. Non-Westerners respect and highly value age.
    • Family Westerners have nuclear families (of only parents and children).Non-Westerners have more extended families (parents, children, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.).
  5. Recognize, in crossing cultures, the descriptions of: The two main tendencies of approaches/mindsets (appedix 16)
    • 1. Openness, Acceptance, Trust
    • 2. Suspicion, Fear, Prejudice
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  6. Recognize, in crossing cultures, the descriptions of: the inevitable feelings experienced (appendix 16)
    • Frustration, Confusion, Tension, Embarrassment
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  7. Recognize, in crossing cultures, the descriptions of: the two main tendencies of choices/coping skills (appendix 16)
    • 1. Observe, Listen, Enquire
    • 2. Criticize, Rationalize, Withdraw
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  8. Recognize, in crossing cultures, the descriptions of: the results of crossing cultures (appendix 16)
    1. Observe, Listen, Enquire = Rapport and Understanding

    • 2. Criticize, Rationalize, Withdraw = Aienation and Isolation
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  9. Recognize the five cultural “types” on the culturally-sensitive scale and their descriptions. (Appendix 17–How to Become More Culturally Sensitive)

    Cultural Integrator
    Cultural Integrator: In time, you come to a place where you begin to relate to your new culture as your won. This stage of cultural development requires one to actually live in a new culture. You develop a bi-cultural or multi-cultural frame of reference to perceive the world around you. Your saying is, "This is good. Let me live it out."
  10. Recognize the five cultural “types” on the culturally-sensitive scale and their descriptions. (Appendix 17–How to Become More Culturally Sensitive)

    Cultural Adapter
    Cultural Adapter: With your increased knowledge of customs and expectations of a new culture, you begin to experiment using its language and cultural practices. Over time, your appreciation for this new culture motivates you to live and act in ways that are different than your home culture. Your saying is, "This is fun, let me try it out."

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  11. Recognize the five cultural “types” on the culturally-sensitive scale and their descriptions. (Appendix 17–How to Become More Culturally Sensitive)

    Cultural Generalizer
    Cultural Generalizer: You recognize superficial differences in cultures, such as food and customs. But you overestimate your knowledge of other cultures, believing that common sense is all that is needed to understand any people or culture. Your saying is, "People are people, wherever you go."

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  12. Recognize the five cultural “types” on the culturally-sensitive scale and their descriptions. (Appendix 17–How to Become More Culturally Sensitive)

    Cultural Imperialist:
    Cultural Imperialist: You know little about other cultures and general insecurity leads you to judge others solely on the basis of their technology and material prosperity. You tend to criticize others different than you. You are generally unsympathetic to the plight of other peoples, and blame them for creating their own problems. Your saying is "Why can't they get it right?"

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  13. Recognize the five cultural “types” on the culturally-sensitive scale and their descriptions. (Appendix 17–
    How to Become More Culturally Sensitive)

    Cultural Isolationist:
    Cultural Isolationist: You perceive your world as the only way to live. You are intentionally uninformed about other peoples and cultures. You choose not to interact with people from different cultures if you can help it, and criticize using broad generalizations. Your saying is "Why don't they leave us alone."

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  14. Define hospitality (in 1 sentence) and list (in 1sentence each) the five main aspects of Biblical hospitality,
    which is the key to developing cross-cultural relationships. (Sect. 41.1.2 & 41.1–41.5 )
    41.1.2 Hospitality is welcoming strangers into your presence by providing safe space (physical, emotional, and spiritual), food, and drink and treating them as family.

    • 41.1.3 Old Testament Illustrations:
    • a) The Shunamite Woman, Lot (2 Kings 4:8-27)
    • b) The Widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:9-24)
    • c) Rahab (Joshua 2)
    • d) Abraham (Genesis 18)
    • e) Lot (Genesis 19:1-5)
  15. Recognize how understanding culture can help prepare the way for sharing the Gospel. (Sect. 42)
    • 42.1 We need to value other cultures, not view them as un-Biblical or inferior.
    • 42.2 We need to learn other people’s cultures in order to love them better and share the Gospel cross-culturally.
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Lecture 6 – Understanding Culture and Developing Cross-cultural Relationships
Lecture 6 - Undestanding Culture and Developing Cross Cultural relationships, Culture and Domestic and Cross-Cultural, VLI, Spring 2012, JBL