Purpose, Objectives and Criteria
for Cross-cultural Mission Experiences
A two to three-week supervised immersion experience in an unfamiliar ethnic or socio-economic community. Small groups of students participate in congregational life, explore neighborhoods, engage in dialogue, and live (where possible) with people/families in the cultural setting. The experience is designed to help students gain self-knowledge as well as cross-cultural understanding, explore and reflect on theological themes while reflecting on implications for ministry, and learn basic values and sensitivities in order to develop effective cross-cultural ministry in a diverse and multicultural world.
Sites and populations envisioned for
Cross-Cultural Mission Experiences
Cross-Cultural Education (CCE) envisions that the sites we offer to students should be in unfamiliar ethnic or socio-economic communities. Students must choose a site that is culturally unfamiliar to them. The sites may be rural, urban, or international which will engage students with people who are culturally different from them in race, ethnicity, or economic class. Both different geographical contexts and different populations are important factors in our site choices. The overall goal is to nurture a cross-cultural sensitivity in students that will be useful to them in their future mission and ministry.
One of the major tasks of theological education is not only to know the gospel, but also to provide the opportunity for interpreting the culture in which the gospel is to be confessed. Participation in a cross-cultural experience encourages students to take the risk of "being out of control" and encountering a very pluralistic and diverse world as the context for ministry so that they might better learn essential cross-cultural skills for confessing the Christian faith and engaging in effective mission and ministry.
Put another way, the purpose of this experience is to prompt students to ask: "What does the gospel look like in this particular cultural context?" "How might I be faithful to and articulate the gospel in this setting and begin to think about effective ministry?"
- God creates a world in which there are diverse realities of culture, values, beliefs, and patterns of behavior, world views, and religious expression. (Genesis and Acts)
- God's people are called to live and serve in a multicultural world. (Acts 2)
- Differences are to be respected and shared with one another. (I Cor. 12)
- While "Reconciliation" and "New Creation" are common themes, the Gospel does not lead us to be culturally the same. (II Cor. 5:16-20)
- All cultural views are to be examined in the light of the Gospel. (Acts 10 & 11)
- No one culture can claim superiority in God's created world.
- In response to God's creation of a diverse world, Christians are called to live in and participate in God's mission (missio Dei) in this multicultural world.
- Our common humanity is centered in the activity of God, not in our cultural identity; however, cultural differences can enrich any community and opportunities for mission and ministry.
A. Deepened attitudes of openness and learning
- Student will develop a growing willingness to listen to and explore the unfamiliar cultural context as well as have one's own Christian life and theology questioned by Christians of other cultures.
- Student will develop appreciation for different articulations and manifestations of the Christian faith.
- Student will develop curiosity about theology as expressed in other cultural contexts.
- Student will develop a willingness to reassess one's own understanding of Christian mission and ministry in a different cultural context.
B. Increased knowledge
- Student will develop a basic awareness of the meaning of the concepts of "culture," and "subjective culture" in a particular context.
- Student will learn how history of the context has shaped the present ministry.
- Student will come to a basic understanding of how effective ministry is practiced by a Christian community in a particular cultural context and learn some of the contributions of visited culture to the church.
- Student will develop a general understanding of how cultural sensitivity might be developed in an unfamiliar context.
- Student will develop a basic understanding of how institutional and systemic dimensions of racism and other forms of oppression (such as classism, sexism, and colonialism) are barriers to effective mission and ministry.
- Student will learn how to better deal with ethnocentrism and evaluate patterns of different behavioral patterns within the context of the visited culture.
C. Increased development of skills
- Student will learn how to develop relationships with people of another culture and participate in cross-cultural conversations.
- Student will develop the ability to listen with a sensitive ear to different values, perceptions, and world views.
- Student will be able to identify and describe major differences of an unfamiliar culture.
- Student will be able to identify, describe, and evaluate central values or value systems operative in a culture that is different from one's own.
- Student will be able to explore and articulate major theological themes, issues, and concerns of a culture different from one's own and reflect on the implications for Christian mission and ministry.
Criteria for all Cross-Cultural Experiences
- The experience must be completed in a cultural context different from a student's formative culture or any with which the student is familiar.
- The experience ONSITE must be AT LEAST two weeks (14 days) in length where the student lives, studies, reflects, worships, and engages with people of that different cultural context.
- The experience must be done under supervision or leadership of a member of the Luther Seminary faculty, or designated adjunct faculty, or knowledgeable pastor at the site.
- The focus of the alternative experience must be on learning and experiencing mission and ministry in an unfamiliar culture. Leadership and/or management of "mission trips," work groups, or group immersion experiences for others do not satisfy this requirement.
- The experience must provide for substantial theological reflection on mission and ministry in the culture visited with a group of students or theologically educated individuals under the supervision of a faculty member, designated adjunct faculty, or knowledgeable pastor. Group reflection sessions need to happen at least 2 or 3 times each week. The petition must state the names of people with whom this reflection will be done.
- Students must participate in Orientation and Debriefing sessions at the seminary of enrollment.
- The experience is to be an immersion in an unfamiliar culture. Students are to interact with people from the culture visited.
- Where possible and acceptable in the culture visited, students are to live in the homes of people of the selected culture for at least 30 to 50% of the time and longer if feasible.
Criteria for content
- The values and value systems of the culture are to be presented and explored, particularly as they relate to issues of religious life in the culture visited.
- Theological themes of grace, faith, sin, law and gospel, forgiveness, justice, evil, suffering, alienation, justification, etc. are to be explored.
- Special attention is to be given to the congregational life and worship of the locale visited.
- Issues of racism, classism, colonialism, and discrimination, as they relate to the culture visited, are to be considered.
- Issues of outreach and evangelism are to be explored as students seek to determine the meaning and shape of ministry in this unfamiliar cultural context.
Criteria for pedagogy
- While someone may coordinate the experience on site, a faculty member or designated adjunct faculty or pastor on site shall normally participate in each experience and facilitate the theological reflection of the group. This person must exercise oversight for the experience.
- Preparatory reading assignments will be made when appropriate.
- Diverse and opposing points of view by presenters within the culture are strongly encouraged.
- In addition to the periodic opportunities built into the experience for theological discussion or reflection, a paper or written project is assigned by the Director of Cross-Cultural Education, designated faculty, or adjunct.
Criteria for costs/expenses
The total cost (excluding tuition) per student for any cross-cultural experience is normally less than $3,500 (travel, lodging, food, program, etc.).
Each Cross-Cultural Mission Experience will be evaluated at the completion of each experience.
Alternative Cross-Cultural Experiences and Waivers
On rare occasions, alternative Cross-Cultural Mission Experiences not sponsored by Cross-Cultural may be considered on a case by case basis and reviewed according to the above criteria. Please know that each year the deadline for submitting petitions regarding alternative J-Term Cross-Cultural Mission Experiences is October 1, and the deadline for submitting petitions regarding alternative summer Cross-Cultural Mission Experiences is March 15. Please contact the Cross-Cultural office at email@example.com for further information.
In special circumstances, the Cross-Cultural Mission Experience may be waived because of some previous experience(s) that you might have completed. Additional consultation with the director of Cross-Cultural Education must take place and a Petition for Waiver must be filed to initiate this request.
Adopted 5/18/2010; Updated 6/26/12