Intercultural Studies Degree
By Frank Brazell, Director of Enrollment Management
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” – Matt. 28:19-20, New American Standard Bible.
When considering Jesus’ Great Commission, few would reject that for the Church, there is a distinct command to take message of the Good News to those who do not know Jesus, whether they live around the world or around the corner. However, much debate is made about how the Church is called to accomplish this mission; in the last three-hundred years, the Church has succeeded in going, but has met with limited success in making disciples. Thankfully, this trend began to reverse during the 20th Century, and missiological approaches have shifted to more effectively share the Gospel.
The efforts of the Church to create disciples of all nations prove fruitless when well-meaning Christians from a given culture or society erroneously bring with them the gospel of culture, rather than the Gospel of Jesus (Lingenfelter, 2008), and are shocked when an emerging local church is stifled.
At Grace College of Divinity, Intercultural Studies students across our three undergraduate programs, and graduate students with a focus in Intercultural Studies, learn effective methods of global and cross-cultural leadership, which consider culture in the context of organizational and church leadership. Effective cross-cultural leadership is essential in effective missions and church-planting, as local responses to the Gospel are influenced by assumptions and symbols from each society (Schein, 2010). Much damage can, and has, been done for the cause of the Gospel by well-intended missionaries who fail to navigate the brackish waters where cultures collide.
All of this is nuanced by a need to be faithful to the truth of God’s Word, uncompromising where necessary, yet flexible where culture has imposed upon the practices of the Church. At GCD, all programs are saturated with a core of Bible and Theology courses that teach students the importance of faithfulness to the intentions of the original authors of Scripture.
Lingenfelter, S.G. (2008) Leading cross-culturally: Covenant relationships for effective christian leadership. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic.
Schein, E.H. (2010). Organizational culture and leadership (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.