Cross-Cultural Connections: Stepping Out & Fitting In Around the World  -     By: Duane Elmer
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Cross-Cultural Connections: Stepping Out & Fitting In Around the World

Inter-Varsity Press / 2002 / Paperback

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Product Description

Don't leave home without it! Whether you're embarking on a short-term missions trip, traveling for business, or just vacationing, you'll inevitably face social contrasts and different ways of thinking. Filled with real-life illustrations and practical exercises, Elmer's expert guidance helps you communicate effectively, avoid cultural faux pas, establish trust, and truly become an ambassador for Christ. 200 pages, softcover from InterVarsity.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 200
Vendor: Inter-Varsity Press
Publication Date: 2002
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.5 (inches)
ISBN: 0830823093
ISBN-13: 9780830823093
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

With the new realities of global interconnectedness comes a greater awareness of cultural diversity from place to place. Besides differences in food and fashion, we face significant contrasts of cultural orientation and patterns of thinking. As we travel across cultures, what should we expect? How do we deal with culture shock? And can we truly connect with those we meet? Experienced cross-cultural specialist Duane Elmer provides a compass for navigating through different cultures. He shows us how to avoid pitfalls and cultural faux pas, as well as how to make the most of opportunities to build cross-cultural relationships. Filled with real-life illustrations and practical exercises, this guide offers the tools needed to reduce apprehension, communicate effectively, and establish genuine trust and acceptance. Above all, Elmer demonstrates how we can avoid being cultural imperialists and instead become authentic ambassadors for Christ. Whether you are embarking on a short-term mission trip or traveling for business or pleasure, this book is both an ideal preparation and a handy companion for your journey.

Author Bio

Duane H. Elmer (Ph.D., Michigan State U.) is director of the Ph.D. program in educational studies and is the G. W. Aldeen Chair of International Studies at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois. In addition to traveling and teaching in over 75 countries, he has provided cross-cultural training to Fortune 500 companies, relief and development agencies, mission organizations, churches and educational institutions. He has also conducted peace and reconciliation efforts in several countries. Recently, he led faculty development workshops at over 25 European and Middle Eastern schools on the theme of . He has taught at Durban Bible College (Durban, South Africa), Michigan State University and Wheaton College and Graduate School. His articles have been published in journals such as , and His books include and

Editorial Reviews

"Elmer has given us a tremendous resource for the twenty-first century. In this day and age people from different cultures and racial backgrounds are intersecting with each other more frequently now than ever before. This thought-provoking, insightful and practical book delivers excellent biblical references to support key principles. A must-read for Christians or non-Christians, local churches, Christian colleges and universities, mission organizations, and those connected to the marketplace."
"It's a delight to learn how concerned for the right things we can be and yet still be so far from the mark, which is often the case. It will soon be, I am sure, an adopted, fresh standard of measure for new-candidate missions training, evangelism and even new-marriage counseling. All by their nature involve understanding our too-narrowed selves in crosscultural settings, which this book (get a good highlighter pen) clearly provides. . . . Elmer has successfully placed before us a 'working book' that, while wonderfully written and easily read, also begs you to underline scores of 'make-sense' insights and then tab the page so you can find them again."
"We live in a world of rapidly increasing cross-cultural connections, which raises the great dangers of misunderstandings, alienations and conflicts. Much has been written theoretically on how to make them constructive. Drawing on his wide personal experience and teaching intercultural communications to those ministering around the world, Elmer helps us to see that crosscultural relationships take place in the realities of everyday life, and shows us concrete ways to build relationships of understanding and trust across the cultural gulfs we encounter in global ministries. . . . Effective cross-cultural ministries begin with interpersonal relationships that bridge the cultural gulfs that separate people."
"Starting with the story of a monkey 'rescuing' a fish from 'drowning,' Elmer shows the rest of us primates how to jump into the chilly waters of another culture and learn to swim with the fish. As one who has seen him do this effectively with business personnel, I am delighted that his insights are now available to far more who are making the plunge--especially those doing so for Christ's sake."
"Elmer makes complicated and technical material easy and practical. He has a gift of connecting both theory and practice in such a way that they become usable. Although written with Western readers in mind, the book reflects Two-Thirds World thinking. It works both ways--for those who wish to cross the cultural limits from the West to the Two-Thirds World or vice versa. For this reason I recommend this book not only to the Western readers but also to Two-Thirds World peoples."
"With his candid humor and personal applications, Elmer knows how to instruct adults. This is not just a book but a training manual that incorporates some good andragogical principles of adult education. . . . Elmer doesn't just take us to the field, but treats the oft-neglected topic of reentry. The appendix, while directed to a debriefing of a longer term cross-cultural experience, could well be a separate manual to debrief the many short-termers who need post-trip evaluation."
"Elmer provides a valuable and timely tool for crosscultural work, especially as the face of world missions is changing. No longer is missions from the 'West to the rest,' but from 'everywhere to everywhere.' This delightful trend in missions makes Elmer's book even more significant. Today, Peruvians face culture shock in China, and Taiwanese are challenged to understand Sudan. Missionaries in multinational teams need to learn to work with their colleagues as well as with host-country nationals. Cross-Cultural Connections is filled with sound principles and fascinating stories. I will be sending copies of the book to each of our personnel directors."
" Cross-Cultural Connections will help you understand core values that determine how people in different cultures make decisions and interact in everyday life. I started and finished reading the book on my flight from the U.S. to China. I found many practical insights and a deep perception and appreciation coming from an author that is obviously a cross-cultural veteran. Although I live and travel constantly between different cultures, I was able to reflect on a couple sticky situations of my own with the wisdom offered by the book."
"Today's world demands the awareness, mindset and skills that Elmer delivers in Cross-Cultural Connections. Multicultural interactions, once reserved for the world traveler and missionary, are now everyone's experience. For success in missions trips, business trips and in a demographically changing U.S., every Christian needs the insights in this book . . . everyday."
"Once again, Elmer has provided us with an excellent, insightful and interactive guide for preparation for cross-cultural ministry at home or abroad. The applications to interpersonal relationships are many. This is a must-read for any Christian anticipating wider involvement in service for our Lord. I only wish this very useful book had been available to me prior to my international involvement."
"This book will help us love our neighbors in ways that make sense to them."

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  1. Salem, Oregon
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Fruitfulness in Differences
    January 24, 2013
    Annette Harrison
    Salem, Oregon
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Reviewed by Dr. Annette R. Harrison, Assistant Professor of Intercultural Studies, Corban University.

    A book about connections implies differences; this one discusses diversity in people from both sexes, from multiple generations, and from varied ethnic and national backgrounds. The word "cross-cultural" in the title creates the impression that this book would apply only to those traveling to other countries, but that is not the case. A number of examples, including different generations of family members, husbands and wives, and rural versus urban Americans, suggests that we all need help to connect across our differences. Furthermore, though written for committed and engaged Christians, it is not a "missionaries only" book. In fact, Elmer often gives examples directly relevant to business people and other professionals. He repeats throughout the book the importance of good cross-cultural adjustment in order to represent Christ well wherever we are, whatever we do.

    Elmer distills complex and difficult concepts into a highly readable and practical book that explains what it takes to successfully interact and engage in meaningful relationships with people who are not like us. The first broad message for the reader is that diversity is not bad; different does not mean "evil" or "inferior." The second message is that it is possible to navigate differences in perspective, and, though the process may be uncomfortable or disconcerting at times, it results in highly rewarding benefits in understanding, friendship, and successfully modeling Christ's acceptance and love. The third message is that those who have gone before can help; an important section of Elmer's book describes known areas of clashes in perspective, including time, logic, individualism, task-orientation, categorical thinking, status and behavioral control.

    The tone of Cross-Cultural Connections is personable, sincere and non-threatening. When Elmer discusses negative or immature responses or behavior in cross-cultural (or other) situations, he speaks from his own personal experience and asks the readers what they can relate to. In this way, he graciously circumvents a number of sticky issues that may get weighted down by defensiveness or emotion, such as judgments and evaluations, cultural relativity, and Scriptural interpretation.

    Different is not wrong, Elmer states; we meet difference in all of our relationships. It is how we react to and negotiate points of difference that is important. While Elmer is careful to emphasize that God has clearly communicated what is right and what is wrong, he leads the reader to consider a number of areas where choices of communication or behavior do not violate God's commands; they are simply different than our own.

    It is necessary that the reader agree with Elmer's assessment before continuing in the book, as this theme occurs again and again. Moreover, it is the basis upon which Elmer builds in order to recommend that those new to a culture suspend judgment until they understand what they are truly seeing - is it something that is wrong, or is it simply different? The importance of this distinction rests with our human tendency to negatively assess whomever or whatever is different than we are. Negative assessments lead to judgmental thoughts, criticisms, resentments, frustrations and anger. Those who desire to be fruitful in a new culture cannot afford to start down the slippery slope of negative thoughts. If we are to truly communicate Christ, Elmer emphasizes, we must be able to remain accepting and open until we understand, discern and are given godly wisdom for helpful action, rather than action that will either be misinterpreted or do harm.

    Furthermore, it is possible to cope with, and even enjoy, differences. And how we react to differences directly affects our experience of a new culture, as well as how well we represent Christ. Slight adjustments are a small price to pay for the privilege of representing Christ well. Elmer provides examples such as learning greetings, trying food, or wearing local clothing. The positives outweigh the negatives in making these small, exterior changes. On the other hand, tremendous goodwill and openness to relationships with people from the host culture is the reward. This, in turn, enhances the experience, and makes us effective representatives of Christ.

    Elmer's presentation may be criticized for being overly simplistic and repetitious. The themes of "different is not wrong" and "good relationships make the best witness" occur repeatedly. On the other hand, returning to essential themes creates a cohesive presentation. The discussion questions and opportunities for reflection at the end of each chapter may be used by anyone, even those without a particular culture or country in mind, though readers with a specific destination in mind will receive the most benefit from them.

    I highly recommend this book to anyone considering travel to another area of the world, whether for short-term mission work, as an exchange student, to represent a company, or to be a guest speaker. However, as mentioned above, anyone dealing with difficulties in relationship caused by differences in perspective will benefit from the generous, insightful presentation. Elmer's exposition clearly shows us that even within our own culture, we cannot take shared perspectives for granted. It takes intentional thought and practice to nourish and sustain connections, cross-cultural or otherwise.
  2. 5 Stars Out Of 5
    May 16, 2008
    Michael Young
    this is a great book for anyone who works with people and especially for those who are thinking of going on a missions trip. This is one book that I wish that I would have read before my last trip.
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