Cross-cultural studies

Kan In Don Nah (All Are Welcome Here): A Framework for Developing Intercultural Worship Practice at First Chin Baptist Church of New Bern, North Carolina

Janice Daynette Snead D.Min.
The process of intercultural ministry across human boundaries is modeled throughout the ministry of Jesus Christ. Regardless of culture, the scriptures actively engage understanding of God’s Word for all the people and His love to reach each one. This project sought to encourage a biblical understanding of intercultural discipleship by guiding the worshiping community of First Chin Baptist Church through a four-week ministry project to welcome and worship with non-Chin guests. Through a series of study on John 21:1-17, the community discovered a new biblical and theological foundation for understanding and guiding non-Chin guests before, during, and after worship to develop a framework for intercultural worship practices at First Chin Baptist Church.


Nakhati Jon D.Ed.Min.
Islamic marriage is a contract, and biblical marriage is a covenant. These two principles intersect and form a point of reestablishment in the marriages of believers from a Muslim background (BMBs).

Islamic contractual marriage ideas remain in marital relationships of BMBs. The intent of this study is to explore and understand the influence of Islamic contractual marriage on believers who now embrace the ideas of Christian covenant marriage.

The qualitative research will explore the believers’ understanding of their Islamic contractual marriage and their beliefs concerning biblical covenant marriage. BMBs retain a contractual view of marriage because they have not applied the ideas of covenant marriage, thereby affecting negatively their spousal relationships. Additionally, the use of certain cultural and religious terms reinforces their understanding of their marital relationship, often reflecting either a contractual or covenant perspective.

For BMBs and missionaries there is a deficiency of available literature that compares and explains the differences between the Islamic and biblical views of marriage. This study hopes to be a foundational resource to highlight areas which possibly are retained in these marriages.

Creating a Narrative Empathy Among Southern Baptist Leaders: Shaping a New Perception of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad and Jihad

Charles Wesley Powell Dr. D.Min.
The Southern Baptist denomination is the largest Protestant religious group in the United States. Since the terrorist attacks of 9/11 there has been an increase of negative rhetoric among Southern Baptists towards Muslims. This thesis-project asks to what extent a lack of narrative empathy towards Muslims can be altered in the life of the Southern Baptist leader thus enabling the leader, consequently the denomination, to better understand and communicate the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad as embodiments of spiritual discipline and peaceful living. The theoretical framework and in-depth qualitative interviews provide invaluable insights into the dynamics and use of anti-Islamic rhetoric among Southern Baptists. Concrete strategies of action are proposed, such as strategic personal encounters between Southern Baptists and Muslims which when combined with a better understanding of Islam can help uncover the Southern Baptist denominations preconceived prejudices and misunderstandings of Islam that so often hinder constructive dialogue. This project has crucial practical implications that has not yet received scholarly attention.


Joseph Nehemiah D.Min.
With the growth of the church in North Africa comes the need to train pastors and leaders. This project defines a biblically-rooted, contextually- and culturally-appropriate framework for training believers from Muslim background (BMB) leaders in an Arab context. The framework uses adult education (andragogy) principles from Bloom, Knowles, and Kolb that contribute to deep learning. Principles are evaluated using Hofstede's Arabic cluster cultural dimensions (Power Distance Index, Uncertainty Avoidance Index, Collectivism) and GLOBE leadership traits. This project defines cultural and contextual educational principles that put the design and implementation of developing and training leaders into the hands of BMB leaders.

The author believes it is important to hear from local leaders. The coalescence of cultural educational principles with the practical experience of local leaders allows for a practical educational framework. North African leaders were interviewed to discover how God developed them as leaders. The results reveal the importance of character, teaching, practical experience, and community with a mentor playing a significant role. The author suggests cultural and contextual principles and models to deliver training in non-traditional and non-formal ways.

Let all Who Are Hungry Come and Eat - "In Good Faith": Intentional Interreligious Encounter and the Spirit of Hospitality

Chava Stacie Bahle D.Min.
This thesis-project explores participant experiences in a long-term Jewish-Christian-Muslim dialogue program. Examined through the theological quests for truth, love and peace, participants reflected on their experiences, placing those experiences in conversation with sacred texts and images from their home traditions. T'shuvah, the Jewish theological act of turning toward the holy, is explored as a transtemporal, liberative and conciliatory gesture, through which the program might create change in the participants' sense of self and other. Reflective storytelling as a method is explored in depth.
The author theorizes that t’shuvah did in fact occur, according to participant interviews. T’shuvah in an interreligious dialogue setting may occur in part because of: the phenomenon of multiple “Us-es,” according to the neurobiology theories of Robert Sapolsky; contact theories through dialogue; and the structure of gatherings proposed by Priya Parker. Ethical considerations of intentional interreligious engagement, especially historical wounds and vulnerability, are also discussed.
The thesis-project used semi-structured, one on one interviews, and applied a novel, four step Jewish theological reflection method conceived by the author: p’shat, thick descriptions of “what happened”; d’rash, placing those experiences in dialogue with sacred texts and images; t’shuvah, how the experiences may have created individual and cosmic repair among the dialogue partners; and k’dushah, exploring whether and how participation in the program translated into action in the world outside the program. Framing the interviews through the lens of “participant as storyteller” is explored in detail as a potential contribution to sacralizing the lived experience of the program.
The rich imageries of shared ancestry, meeting at table, fellow travelers and learning in the presence of the other inform the conclusion that the intentional interreligious engagement of this program may create tikkunim (repairs) in both individual and group to group relationships among Jews, Christians and Muslims.

Bridging the Latino--Anglo gap: A transition towards a cross-cultural church at First Baptist Church, Robbins, North Carolina

Ernesto Robledo
In its 2,000 years of existence, the church has remained mostly segregated in regards to the inclusion of other cultures within one setting. Christians from various traditions have spent centuries trying to be more like Jesus as they worshiped in many different settings. Even though the church has been active for so long, the reality is that she has been predominantly white. Through an intentional pastoral project, twenty-four individuals participated in a four-week bilingual Bible study and a community-wide missionary event. These purposeful interactions proved that the church can change her traditional ministry pattern by engaging members of the Latino and Anglo congregation in a cross-cultural experience at First Baptist Church of Robbins, NC.


David Selvey D.Min.
A lack of cross-cultural training in the secular and religious sectors has contributed to attrition of valuable workers who are engaged in cross-cultural contexts. Until the twentieth century, the impact of cross-cultural factors on the effectiveness and efficiency of international workers was not a serious consideration in the English-speaking world.

Mission agency training remained somewhat static until end of the twentieth century when several studies reported on missionary attrition factors and multi-national entities began to evaluate their losses due to cross-cultural issues. ReMAP and ReMAPII collated much data on missionary attrition, identifying several factors as preventable. Several of these factors pointed back to potential weaknesses in preparation and screening missionary candidates for cross-cultural work.

In response to this problem, this study presents the need for missionary Pre-Field Orientation and Training (PFOT) and lays a foundation that includes biblical, theological, historical, and practical reasons. The research includes ancient and current literature as well as case studies of the Pre-Field Orientation and Training programs of three major evangelical mission agencies.

The study produced a PFOT plan for Faith Global Missions that utilizes current technology and educational methods. The work includes the process of plan development, evaluative input from missionary trainers and training experts, PFOT subjects, and pedagogy that may be useful to Faith Global Missions and other missionary training organizations.


Sergio Queiroz D.Min.
This major project was designed to understand and contextualize the marks of health and its obstacles in selected Brazilian churches, using the Transformational Church criteria. The report began with a theological and missiological foundation about church health and missionality, composed by a storyline of the most important reflections on church growth and mission over the last fifty years, from the Church Growth Movement until the Missional Church Conversation, with emphasis on the Transformational Church.

Following that, in order to understand and contextualize the Transformational Church marks of health into the Brazilian church, the cultures of Brazil and the US were compared in search of how the cultural constructs of power distance, individualism/collectivism, uncertainty avoidance and others can work either as obstacles or facilitators of health and missionality in Brazil. The last part of the project was in-depth interviews with senior pastors of forty-five churches from different denominations and regions of Brazil about leadership practices, evangelism, worship, prayer, local and global missions, small groups, involvement with the city, assimilation of new believers, as well as about the hindrances those churches face in order to be healthy and missional.

The main conclusions of the research were that the Transformational Churches in Brazil show similar marks of the American ones: they discern the context with a missionary mentality, embrace the values of vibrant leadership, relational intentionality and prayerful dependence, and engage the right actions of worship, community and mission. However, the Brazilian Transformational Churches have to face major obstacles to be healthy and missional, especially the teachings of the Prosperity Theology, financial problems, and the lack of commitment of their members to the mission of God.


Justin Hiebert D.Min.
The American church is largely segregated and homogenous. This has not only stunted the growth of the church but led to an ineffective and limited mission vision. The contemporary American church must reclaim the biblical mandate to be both ethnically diverse and missionally minded. Through a qualitative research methodology this research project focuses on creating a healthy and sustainable multiethnic identity and leadership structure. Through interviewing and visiting some of the leading multiethnic churches of the Central Valley of California, the researcher lays out a clear understanding and argument for multiethnic churches. This paper examines the book of Acts, interviewing insights from key pastoral leaders, and provides a key table and summary of actionable next steps.
The insights from the book of Acts reveals that God’s original intent for the church is to be both multiethnic and missional. Contemporary literature highlights the necessary traits and qualities for healthy and sustainable leadership. Finally, interviews with leaders engaged in ministry show the foundational attitudes and characteristics leaders must possess to lead their churches through a successful transition to multiethnic.
For leaders engaging in multiethnic ministry, there are five key leadership characteristics that they must practice: humility, personal holistic health, community engagement, an intentionality in seeking out different voices, and a celebration of diversity.

Sensitizing the Preacher for a Multi-Religious Context in the Diocese of Palayamkottai in India

Anto Peterraj D.Min.
The multi-religious context in which India preaching has to adorn herself with the garb of sensitivity is the backdrop of this thesis. Against this backdrop the author proposes that a preacher can be trained to appeal to the cognitive, emotive, spiritual, and psychological aspects of the listeners for a transformed life interpreting Christian Scripture and Tradition in the multi-religious pastoral context of India in general and of the Diocese of Palayamkottai in particular. The thesis is divided into five chapters.

Chapter One, after spelling out the background, the need, the process, and the scope of the study, sets the context of the Diocese of Palayamkottai with a special reference to religious pluralism in India in general and in Palayamkottai in particular.

In Chapter Two, after briefly analyzing the homiletical understanding before Pope Francis in the light of General Introduction of the Roman Missal and Verbum Domini, we meet the two dialogue partners of our study from the viewpoint of effective proclamation of the Gospel and embracing different traditions with respect, viz., Pope Francis’ Evangelii Gaudium, and Bede Griffiths’ Sannyasa.

Chapter Three divides into three sections: In section one, the challenges that a preacher, a preaching, and a listener face in a multi-religious context are presented; section two proposes models (participatory, narrative sermon reflected in the life of the preacher) for a better preaching in multi-religious background, while section three will try to resolve the challenges in the light of the proposed model.

In Chapter Four a sampling study is done by picking up seven preachers.

Chapter Five is a practical guide that will serve as a manual for a preacher offering different models of preaching.
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