Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility  -     By: Duane Elmer
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Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility

Inter-Varsity Press / 2006 / Paperback

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Product Description

The last thing we want to do in cross-cultural ministry is to offend people in other cultures. Unfortunately, all too often and even though we don't mean it, our actions communicate superiority, paternalism, imperialism and arrogance. Our best intentions become unintentional insults. How can we minister in ways that are received as true Christlike service?
Cross-cultural specialist Duane Elmer gives Christians practical advice for serving other cultures with sensitivity and humility. With careful biblical exposition and keen cross-cultural awareness, he shows how our actions and attitudes often contradict and offend the local culture. He offers principles and guidance for avoiding misunderstandings and building relationships in ways that honor others. Here is culturally-savvy insight into how we can follow Jesus' steps to become global servants.
Whether you're going on your first short-term mission trip or ministering overseas for extended periods, this useful guide is essential reading for anyone who wants to serve effectively in international settings with grace and sensitivity.

Product Information

Format: Paperback
Number of Pages: 216
Vendor: Inter-Varsity Press
Publication Date: 2006
Dimensions: 8.25 X 5.50 (inches)
ISBN: 0830833781
ISBN-13: 9780830833788
Availability: In Stock

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Publisher's Description

Duane Elmer asked people around the world how they felt about Western missionaries. The response? "Missionaries could be more effective if they did not think they were better than us." The last thing we want to do in cross-cultural ministry is to offend people in other cultures. Unfortunately, all too often and even though we don't mean it, our actions communicate superiority, paternalism, imperialism and arrogance. Our best intentions become unintentional insults. How can we minister in ways that are received as true Christlike service? Cross-cultural specialist Duane Elmer gives Christians practical advice for serving other cultures with sensitivity and humility. With careful biblical exposition and keen cross-cultural awareness, he shows how our actions and attitudes often contradict and offend the local culture. He offers principles and guidance for avoiding misunderstandings and building relationships in ways that honor others. Here is culturally-savvy insight into how we can follow Jesus' steps to become global servants. Whether you're going on your first short-term mission trip or ministering overseas for extended periods, this useful guide is essential reading for anyone who wants to serve effectively in international settings with grace and sensitivity.

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

"Duane Elmer has created a gem! This latest of his creations reminds us that Duane writes stories rather than documents. The reader will discover in Cross-Cultural Servanthood a delightful encounter with people, places and situations. The examples and reflections that come through these pages shine with the warmth and reality of letters from a close friend. But this is no ordinary friend--Dr. Elmer sheds light on cultural mysteries. His experiences as a missionary, teacher, consultant, school administrator and quite surely a researcher who 'gets to the bottom' of the curious events that pepper these stories reveal a depth of understanding that makes this book shine.

The choice of servanthood reveals the fundamental difference in Dr. Elmer's understanding of the cross-cultural situation. Others have written of the information-flow task from one culture toward another, the management dimensions of intercultural affairs and the quest for excellence in intercultural experiences. Note that each of these assumes that the intercultural encounter calls for a series of top-down skills moving from foreignness toward control. Not Duane Elmer. Choosing Christian styles and biblical sources, he develops applications of principles that ring true, reflecting the warmth and wholeness of sound interpersonal affiliation. This is the strong stuff that overcomes the differences, tensions and conflicts that otherwise will plague the intercultural environment. The key is adopting the posture, manner and style of a loyal servant."
"Elmer provides a fresh and provocative look at learning and ministering cross-culturally through the scriptural mandate to be servants of the master engaged in kingdom work. Noting that the practice of servanthood must vary in every culture, the book provides powerful and practical insights into how to become an effective servant in another culture. This is an excellent resource for practical mission training, and for those already in ministry, the book enables willing servants to sharpen their emotional and behavioral practices to more appropriate contextualized servanthood."
"As the Son of God entered first-century Jewish culture and discerned and used its expressions of servanthood--a basin and a towel--to communicate the nature of his Heavenly Father, Duane Elmer draws helpfully from Scripture and his broad experience to help us enter another culture today and discern and use its expressions of servanthood to communicate the nature of our Heavenly Father as well."
"My library is filled with books, tapes and materials all on servanthood in which I see and hear the oft-repeated phrase 'servant-leader.' But how do we live as servants or 'slaves' in a cross-cultural context? Duane Elmer has provided a much-needed cultural guide for any of us involved in intercultural ministry. His writing gives us a biblical foundation along with living anecdotes from across the world in real-life situations. Duane helps us understand the lifelong process and guides us through the matrix of personality, cultural and generational differences. I believe his comments on the mantra 'servant-leader' were especially needed."
" Cross-Cultural Servanthood is needed more today than ever in the history of missions. In today's mission context, millions of short-term missionaries travel cross-culturally every year. Tens of thousands of non-Western missionaries serve in almost every country of the world. Many churches from the West are forming partnerships with churches from other countries. In all these scenarios, there is a tendency toward an attitude of superiority. The danger of ethnocentric arrogance is exploding. Dr. Elmer provides crucial principles of servanthood illustrated with timely examples. Short- and long-term missionaries from the West as well as the non-Western world need to read and practice the principles of this book. God's glory in the nations is at stake!"
" Cross-Cultural Servanthood offers short-termers and career missionaries a wise and practical guide on how to serve God and others. Duane Elmer is a master at cross-cultural relationships and nearly every page of the book shows it. It's a must-read for SIS staff and volunteers.

The relationship between task effectiveness and relational effectiveness is a crucial issue for missionaries and Christian workers of all kinds. Duane Elmer has pinpointed the essential linchpin--servanthood. He ably shows how Jesus' example of servanthood enables one to honor others while honoring God."
"With effective illustrations and ready-to-implement practical applications, Duane Elmer reminds us that Jesus-style servanthood must be biblically understood and culturally applied--in ways that the recipients interpret as servanthood. This book should be required reading for every Christian seeking to serve cross-culturally, whether in a long-term or short-term capacity."
"Elmer's wisdom in preparing people for cross-cultural service comes across clearly throughout this wonderful book. His humbly told stories interwoven with carefully explained truths invited me to revisit things I wish I had done differently in my cross-cultural work and to reflect on the areas in which God still has work to do in my life. Simply put, this marvelous book opens significant doors to more effective cross-cultural service. If all missionaries lived out the lessons Elmer presents, the effect on missionary service and outreach--not to mention the church--would be incalculable."
"Dr. Duane Elmer is my good friend and mentor, and I have learned a lot from him: not only from his teachings and writings but also from our relationship. He lives every day what he believes. I highly recommend his book Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility to anyone who understands the importance of learning from Christ's example and principles; to those who live in the twenty-first century in the global village; to those who serve or desire to serve successfully among people from different ethnic, national or language groups; among people from different countries and cultures. I especially recommend this book to those who are interested in praying more specifically for missionaries; to those who train missionaries in universities or seminaries, colleges and institutions; and especially to everyone in Europe, where we face so many challenges. After his books Cross-Cultural Conflict, Cross-Cultural Connections and With an Eye on the Future: Development and Mission in the 21st Century, this book, in my opinion, is going to be God's instrument for blessing many people and a great help for people from every nation, every language and in every position. May God bless the book and its author!"
"As Christians we all strongly affirm servant leadership, and leave it at that. Duane Elmer leads us on a pilgrimage on what this means in our everyday lives. This is not another book of quick and easy formulas to be applied in specific situations. It is a call to a new way of relating to one another and to those around us. It is not only for Christian ministers and missionaries, but for all of us as parents, teachers and colleagues. The danger is that if we read this carefully and embody its deep insights, it might make servanthood a part of our lives as Christians in this world."

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  1. M Teresa Trascritti
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    Very useful book!
    December 23, 2010
    M Teresa Trascritti
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    Quality: 5
    Value: 5
    Meets Expectations: 5
    Although the book is subdivided by several sections, there are really two concepts to this book: (1) See the image of God in others-- which encompasses the ideas of "welcoming others into our presence," "communicating respect for others, " "building confidence in relationships," and "seeking information that changes you;" and (2) Show Christ to others-- which involves "posture of the servant," "becoming like Christ to others," "biblical foundations for change" and "the servant and leadership/power."

    The section entitled, "Acceptance," basically suggests that Christians ought to see the image of God in others. Acceptance is "The ability to communicate value, worth and esteem to another person" (58). To illustrate the meaning of "acceptance," the author shares 1 Corinthians 8:13--"An accepting Christian values the other person so highly that he or she would rather sacrifice a personal preference, even a right, than risk losing the relationship or being a stumbling block to that person" (61). If a Christian believes that people are created in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), then there is "common grace" that is bestowed on all people.

    The author explains it in this way, "Acceptance of others is to proactively communicate respect and dignity to each human being based on the fact that each is an image-bearer of God" (75). In a similar way, acceptance of others as image bearers of God is found in Galatians 3:28--"There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female" (NIV). One does not need to be a Christian in order to bear the image of God as illustrated in this passage: "Yes, you must execute anyone who murders another person, for to kill a person is to kill a living being made in God's image" (Genesis 9:6).

    The author reminds the reader, "By virtue of being made in the image of God and God's common grace, every person can contribute to our learning" (109). He then shares a story about his wife, Muriel, who used the villagers' story about killing lice to help lower infant mortality in Mozambique (110). This type of humility helps Christians to become better servants (115). Colossians 1:16 says, "For by him (Christ) all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or power or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him" (NIV). If Christians truly believe this passage, then what the author says in page 119 makes sense: "For the priesthood of all believers to function properly, we must all nurture each other, listen to each other, see the beauty of Christ in each other and seek God's grace from each other."

    Elmer shares a story of missionary who set the example of true hospitality towards people in the area by inviting them through the front door to dine with him (183). This practice was unacceptable to the other missionaries so as a result he was ostracized by them. However, this act of showing Christ to others changed the way foreign mission was done in that country (184). The reaction that this particular missionary received from the other missionaries was very much like the reaction Jesus received from the Pharisees in Luke 15:2--"The Pharisees and the Scribes complained saying `This Man receives sinners and eats with them'." This is a good example to follow--invite the people in the area to eat with us. Extend the invitation for them to join us over a meal. The Book of Hebrews supports this idea, "Do not forget to do good and to share" (Heb. 13:16).

    The act of sharing a meal is what the author calls "openness," which is to "accept people as they are and build trust with them" (196). Elmer supports the idea of "openness" by stating, "This is the foundation for revealing Christ to others" (196). In fact showing Christ to others is a way of revealing the Gospel to unbelievers. It is having the light shine through us so that others are pointed to Christ (Matthew 5:14). In a way, it is doing what John the Baptist did--"God sent a man... to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony... he was simply a witness to tell about the light... the One who is the true light... to all who believed Him and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God" (John 1:6-12).

    Christians are to be different--"If you love only those who love you, what good is that? If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?" (Matthew 5:46-47). The idea of being different is also expressed in Mark 10: "But among you it should be quite different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be the slave of all. For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others" (Mark 10:33-35).

    "Cross-Cultural Servanthood" is not only for international missions; it is very useful for pastors of stateside churches in rural or ethnic regions of the country. It supports the biblical fact that we are to see all people as an image of God and to be different in our expression of being "salt" and "light" to the community. The book made me realize that despite the criticism that we may receive from other churches for doing unconventional things, we must continue in our efforts. We must follow the example of Jesus and "dine" with sinners.

    Review by: M. Teresa Trascritti
  2. Amircar Diaz
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    March 17, 2010
    Amircar Diaz
    This book is trully amazing! After visiting Colombia in February, this was my very first book. This book has helped me to develop a sensitive outlook in how I deal with other cultures abroad. I want to thank Duane Elmer for being candid about his experiences abroad and sharing his insights with us. Once again, thank you!
  3. Nancy Stewart
    Houston TX
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    February 12, 2009
    Nancy Stewart
    Houston TX
    Age: 45-54
    Gender: female
    This book is required reading this year for my 'company', and anything that helps the different nationalities work together with less cultural clash is to be welcomed.
  4. Pat Crawford
    5 Stars Out Of 5
    February 11, 2008
    Pat Crawford
    I really don't like to read much, but I finished this book. It is an extremely informative and useful tool.At our church there are several teams that go on short missions and a small group of people who assist the Missions Pastor in planning, evaluating, budgeting,etc. As a group, all of us read this book (about 30 people) and discussed a couple chapters each month at our meetings. Everyone found it to be useful and a real blessing in helping them better understand some of the situations they find themselves in. I highly recommend it for anyone involved in missions work, even the senders and supporters.
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Q: Is this the same book as "Cross-cultural connections" by the same author? Updated version of 2002 book?

A: No, if you view the table of contents for both books, you can see they focus on different aspects of cross-cultural interaction.
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