Descriptions of Topics for Seeing a Culture

Know Your Home Culture (3 sessions)
A cross-cultural worker’s home culture has an enormous effect on his/her values, beliefs, behavior, and ministry. Some American cultural assumptions are identified and their influence on American values, beliefs and behaviors examined.  A beginning recognition that every American has a cultural core of assumptions is a step towards understanding that people of other cultures have different cultural assumptions that shape their values, beliefs and behavior.

Principles of Self-Directed Learning (1 session)
Cross-cultural workers carry out nearly all of their culture- and language-learning without the close oversight or direction of a teacher or supervisor. Therefore, the ability and willingness to initiate, monitor and evaluate your own learning is critical. Participants learn the strategies and skills necessary to become more self-directed in their culture- and language-learning.

Interpersonal Relations (5 sessions)
Becoming a better listener and conversation partner, learning how to manage your emotions, and how to manage conflict in a Biblical way are essential for maintaining and improving interpersonal relations and communication. The emphasis is on acquiring and building skills in these three areas, recognizing, for example, that other cultures may follow different conversational patterns than Americans do.  Managing interpersonal conflict – and your emotions – may play out differently among fellow Americans than it does with people of another culture.

Learning to Make Cultural Observations (10 sessions)
Participants learn the practicalities of observing another culture so that, as soon as they hit the ground, they have the essential skills to begin learning from what they see and sense. Cross-cultural workers are taught to perceive discrete aspects of cultural settings, interactions and events through the 12 signal systems and have opportunities to go “hands on” into local Chinese culture to practice collecting and recording data. These observations set the stage for learning to interpret what they experience from a cultural insider’s point of view.

Biblical Foundations for Mission (2 sessions)
An understanding of God’s communicative character and actions inform cross-cultural life and ministry. Participants explore principles of incarnation in the mission of God. Particular attention is paid 1) to the communicative character of God in Scripture as the Good News spreads to the nations and 2) to the contextualization of the message in Greek culture in Acts and the ministry of Paul.

Beginning to Understand Culture (6 sessions)
A beginning understanding of culture enables cross-cultural workers to appreciate that individuals and whole societies are more accurately understood first in terms of their own beliefs and values. Such an understanding is a preliminary step towards presenting a message about Jesus that may be understood accurately by others. Accordingly, participants are introduced to selected elements of culture, including worldview, as a means towards posing better questions regarding the personal and ministry-related adaptations cross-cultural workers may embrace to advance the Gospel.

Principles of Communication (4 sessions)
Using a case study approach, participants learn that cross-cultural communication of the Gospel is effective and authentic only when the general principles of communication are applied to specific contexts. Participants learn the attitudes and skills required in order to practice communication that is understandable from the point of view of those who hear a Gospel message.

The Work of the Spirit and Spiritual Warfare (2 sessions)
The Spirit of God is at work in the world to make Jesus known and to bring people into God’s Kingdom. He is also at work in the church and individual believers to bring us into closer conformity to the image of Christ. At the same time, Satan is at work to protect his Kingdom of Darkness and to hinder and defeat God’s purposes. Participants learn how to take wise precautions for the battle they are entering, as well as learn truths and myths about the battle itself. Issues pertinent to Satan’s deceptions, our hearts and minds, and living in community are explored.

Culture Stress (3 sessions)
Participants learn to recognize the potential sources of cross-cultural stress in their new culture and how to respond to them in a healthy way. Stressors unique to Christian cross-cultural workers are explored, such as the missionary image, language issues, self-esteem, and balancing “home-culture” pressures. Grief & loss, lifestyle choices, and leaving and arriving are also discussed. Stressors on families living in a new culture are identified, and suggestions for maintaining healthy family relationships are explored. Participants learn the importance of spiritual, emotional and physical rest as a preventive strategy for relieving and living with cultural stress.

The number of sessions per topic may vary slightly from one seminar to another, according to the needs and interests of seminar participants. Our WV philosophy of training includes the principle that seminar content must always be adapted to the specific people taking a seminar.