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Cross-Cultural Connections: Stepping Out and Fitting In Around the World Paperback – September 28, 2002

4.8 out of 5 stars 38 customer reviews

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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." (Alvin C. Bibbs Sr., director, Extension Ministries, Willow Creek Community Church)

"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." (M. L. Hillard, former vice president of people development, ServiceMaster)

"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." (Paul G. Hiebert, professor of mission and anthropology, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School)

"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." (J. Dudley Woodberry, professor of Islamic studies and dean emeritus, School of World Mission, Fuller Theological Seminary)

"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." (David Tai-Woong Lee, director, Global Missionary Training Center, Seoul, Korea)

"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." (John H. Orme, executive director, IFMA)

"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." (Jim Plueddemann, international director, SIM)

"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." (Janson Chan, president, CMR International Corp)

"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." (Wayne Shabaz, cross-cultural business consultant and author of The Corporate Genome: Unleashing the Power of Our Diversity)

"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." (Howard Searle, M.D., executive director, Emmanuel Hospital Association (USA))

"This book will help us love our neighbors in ways that make sense to them." (Miriam Adeney, associate professor of global and urban ministries, Seattle Pacific University, and teaching fellow, Regent College)

About the Author

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 Teaching for Transformation. 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 Moody Monthly, Evangelical Missions Quarterly, Christian Education Journal, Discernment, and Christianity Today. His books include An Analysis of Hebrews: A Programmed Instruction, Building Relationships, With an Eye on the Future: Church and Development in the Twenty-First Century, Cross-Cultural Conflict and Cross-Cultural Connections.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 215 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic; 53187th edition (September 28, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830823093
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830823093
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #55,990 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Brian Fulthorp on August 30, 2005
Format: Paperback
The purpose of Duane Elmer's book Cross-Cultural Connections is to help the reader become aware of the different aspects of transitioning into other cultural settings. Understanding the issues of cross-cultural transition will enable the potential missionary or tentmaker to have an increased awareness of the issues he or she will face in the new setting. This awareness will allow for realistic expectations and reduce the effects of any difficulties one will encounter in the transition. In turn one will then be able to manage the transition effectively and be able to build new relationships.

In helping the reader better understand new cultural settings, Elmer suggests cultural differences aren't "right or wrong, they're just different" (pg. 24). He sets limits on this assertion by saying there are absolutes. However, one must be careful not to judge too quickly before deciding some part of the culture is right or wrong. Some suggestions he gives for working through cultural differences are to stop and evaluate personal feelings and the feelings of others, to suspend judgment, and to ask "why" questions. Following these suggestions will allow one to have a more positive experience with cultural transitions.

The most useful portion of this book provided the reader specific guidance on how to develop the right attitudes and skills for cross-cultural adjustment. Three primary areas were addressed: openness, acceptance and trust.

For Elmer, "openness is the ability to welcome people into your presence and help them feel safe" (pg. 87). If a missionary does not maintain an attitude of openness and approachability, he or she will directly undermine receptivity of the gospel message.
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This book is aimed at Christian workers who are in cross-cultural ministry, but the insights in the book are not limited in application to Christian work.

The author clearly lays out the issues that you will *very* likely encounter in a cross-cultural situation. He has vast experience in cross-cultural situations, and he taps into it very well with appropriate illustrations and stories.

The tone of the book is very casual and friendly, making a daunting subject seem very approachable and understandable.

The book has built-in application sections and activities (which I didn't do) that could really deepen the content if you took the time to work through them. It is not a book that you can read with your brain turned off.

I highly recommend it to anyone who will spend any significant amount of time in another culture.
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Whether you are making specific plans for future missionary work in your own culture or a different, foreign culture, Duane Elmer's book is intended to lead you to take the necessary steps of preparation and prayer before reaching out in this manner. But it is not a mere preparation manual for those contemplating work, be it short-term or longer-term, in the mission field, whether in one's own culture or another. Elmer tackles the adjustment problem head-on, offering insights on just how weighty a matter it is for the first-time missionary.

The idea of “fitting in” wherever God may have you go in missions is not only part of the subtitle of this book but it is a premise that “fitting in” culturally will help you understand other people groups and cultures in a way that would have practical applications in missions where sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ to other groups that may not have any background with gospel presentations is at a premium. But is not this a gigantic assumption that needs warrant and justification? Is not the gospel so attractive to fallen audience that it “sells itself” so to speak. Subtly layered throughout the book is a defense of the premise that the guest or foreign cultural perspective cannot be viewed or taken as superior or more “enlightened” or “advanced” than that of the host culture. The point of missionary work is to bridge or span with a minimum amount of anthropological confusion and tension those cultural factors that would prevent the good news from becoming winsome. In short, the gospel “sells itself” when missionary workers get themselves and their cultural ideologies out of the way.
Ponder the variety of languages in the world.
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"Cross-Cultural Connections" is intended for missionaries or others who want to better understand and communicate with people from other cultures--including with people in our own country. It's like a class or workbook format, but it's easy to read and understand. The author covered some differences between various cultures, gave real life examples of those differences, and explained some of the "whys" behind the differences.

The book started by explaining why we should study other cultures and how to deal with culture shock. It then discussed several different cultural values: time vs event focus, relationship vs task focus, individual vs group priority, category vs holistic thinking, roundabout or straight forward or other discussion styles, achieved or assigned status, honor/shame or guilt, and outgoing or quiet worship styles.

Though the author separated out and explained the different concepts in different chapters, many cultural behaviors seemed tied together and perhaps could have been discussed together. Still, I felt he did a good job explaining differences to look out for and preparing people for culture shock.

I liked that he noted that cultures aren't necessarily going to be one extreme or another and that individuals within a culture can be different than "the norm." Another book I've read recently on a similar topic implied that all cultures were one extreme or another, which hasn't been true in my experience.

I got this book because it was suggested as "further reading" to better understand other cultures because this can also help Christians understand some things in the Bible. I do think it has helped me in that way. I'd recommend this book to those going on international trips or who otherwise would like to understand other cultures better. This is a "starter book," though, so frequent travelers who feel at home in other cultures probably won't get so much out of it.
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