Foundations of Culture Study (Exploring Culture pt. 3)

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  • Approximate Time Commitment: 7 hours
  • Length: 2 weeks

Over the last few decades, as mission practitioners have investigated and forged the idea of contextualization, a renewed interest in exploring culture has also become apparent. Understanding culture is undoubtedly the gateway to effectual Gospel contextualization and sowing. Successful cross cultural workers have a thoughtful and growing knowledge of the culture which they seek to influence in the name of Christ. This kind of knowledge is hard-won. It takes a keen awareness of the ever-changing context in which humans live and missions is practiced. And, it takes intentional planning to do effective ethnographic research. Foundations of Culture Study is the third module in Grow2Serve’s Exploring Culture series. It addresses concepts that set the stage for thorough and meaningful cultural learning.

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Resource Description

Foundations of Culture Study is a two week Grow2Serve online course that lays a solid foundation for intentional cross-cultural learning. Studying culture is an extremely valuable and strategic time investment for missionaries and cross-cultural ministry teams. Researching your host culture will open the door for greater levels of personal reflection and effective contextualization of the Gospel. But before you jump in and start collecting information and interpreting what you are seeing and hearing, we’d like to recommend a few preparatory steps. This course asks you to make an investment of 6-8 hours of learning time over the 14-day period.

This course will help you…

  • explore the value of purposeful culture study,
  • understand the ethics involved,
  • respect and protect those who share information with you,
  • realize barriers that may exist for good information collection,
  • avail yourself of cultural background information that already exists in writing, and
  • realistically assess your own biases and limitations when studying culture.

As a result of actively participating in the course, you will be equipped to…

  • Explain the importance of dealing respectfully and responsibly with the people we encounter while doing ethnographic research.
  • Describe the different ways that informants should be protected during and after research.
  • Discuss the importance of anonymity in cultural exploration.
  • Define ethnographic access and its goal. (Getting good data relevant to the project.)
  • Recognize the importance of access considerations in project decision-making.
  • List potential hindrances to access for possible projects considered by participants.
  • Describe different ways that one can gain access to a social group.
  • Decide upon a doable, focused ethnographic project that is believed to have implications for the mission task.
  • Explore and value the historical and physical environment of the group studied.
  • Investigate existing credible sources relevant to your people group or the cultural institution you are studying.
  • Compile notes of insights from your sources that are relevant to your study.

Content, Community, Consultation, Connections

Foundations of Culture Study addresses concepts that set the stage for thorough and meaningful cultural learning. It provides foundational tools for effective cultural learning to foster fruitful cross cultural ministry. And, perhaps more importantly, it will connect you with fellow learners who are in a similar life stage. You’ll be able to help each other and learn from one another. Your course facilitator will also be a great resource for clarifying what you are learning and for providing you with input on assignments that you will complete and discussions in which you will participate.

Is this Course for Me?

Foundations of Culture Study is designed for those who have already lived and ministered at least 3 months in a culture new and unfamiliar and who are committed to fully placing themselves into God’s hands for the sake of effective cross-cultural Gospel ministry. If you really want to know the heart of your new culture and how to serve them effectively with pure gospel then this would be a good course for you.

Learn with those who have been there!

This course was created by a team led by Dr. Jeff Hogue. Jeff is a veteran church planter in Southeast Asia and college professor. He holds a Masters Degree in Biblical Studies and a Doctorate in Intercultural Studies. He is passionate about ethnographic research and contextualization. His most recent academic work is entitled: Incorporating a Religious Logic into a Discipleship Program: A Strategy for Khmer House Churches. The design team also includes Dr. Donald Grigorenko, Rev. Ted Szymczak and Mark Morgenstern, all of whom also have extensive cross cultural experience.

Please note that ideally, for maximum learning impact, a learner in this course will spend 45-75 minutes daily (Monday – Friday) working on the material. Some of the coursework will involve reading, writing, listening and viewing videos on the computer. Other pieces will involve interacting with other learners and engaging in your local community while practicing the skills you are learning.

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