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Book Review of Cross-Cultural Servanthood

Book Review of Cross-Cultural Servanthood

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Published by Joel Dorman
This is a book review I did for "Cross Cultural Servanthood" by Duane Elmer for my Cross-Cultural Evangelism/Church Planting Class at Liberty.
This is a book review I did for "Cross Cultural Servanthood" by Duane Elmer for my Cross-Cultural Evangelism/Church Planting Class at Liberty.

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Published by: Joel Dorman on Feb 17, 2011
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02/17/2011

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A Brief Review
Jesus commanded His followers to make disciples of allthe people of the world while they journey through life (cf.Matthew 28:19-20). The Scriptures are replete with examplesof carriers of the message of God crossing cultural dividers inorder to express the good news. History is replete withexamples of carriers of the message of God inadvertentlysending the wrong signals through well-meaning, butunevaluated, methodologies. Writing from the perspective of one who has and continues tostruggle with the blessing and burden of serving cross-culturally, Elmer understands the hiddenissues in the hearts of most Westerners as they approach and enter into other cultures. By bringing these issues into the light of God¶s grace and human understanding, Elmer seeks toilluminate his readers in the perils associated with ministering cross-culturally.This book review, then, offers an evaluation of his success in presenting not only theissues but also potential solutions, which results in the spread of the Gospel and expansion of theKingdom of God through ³every nation, tribe, people and language´.
1
Specifically, this reviewis divided into three sections: an explanation of Elmer¶s thesis and development of that thesis, acritical evaluation of this thesis and development. Closing this review is a section on applicationin this writer¶s ministry context.
Thesis and Development
The first issue Elmer addressed is the need for this kind of writing. He listed commonideas that mask superiority:
1
Revelation 7:9. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is from the
 New International Version
(2011).
 
1
 1.
 
I need to correct their error (meaning I have superior knowledge, corner ontruth).2.
 
My education has equipped me to know what is best for you (so let me domost of the talking while you do most of the listening and changing).3.
 
I am here to help you (so do as I say).4.
 
I can be your spiritual mentor (so I am your role model).5.
 
Let me disciple you, equip you, train you (often perceived as ³let me makeyou into a clone of myself´).
2
 This writer had to admit: guilt has settled through thinking, saying, and acting with thesesuperior attitudes masked as noble efforts to ³help´. Elmer uses his own experience inestablishing the need for his thesis: an examination in ³the process of becoming a cross-culturalservant´.
3
 The very first issue with which one must wrestle is the desire to imitate Christ. Comingas a servant, Jesus chose to don the towel and serve the disciples by washing their feet (cf. John13:1-17). This act was the most obvious of Jesus¶ desire to serve, nonetheless, everything He didwas in service to those who could not help themselves. Yet, in His desire to serve, He did nothave a spirit of superiority, but ³rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of aservant´.
4
Consequently, anyone wishing to imitate Christ must suppress their desire to beregarded, revered, or respected (cf. Matthew 16:24-25). This need is even greater in cross-cultural ministry. Carrying one¶s cross for Christ is the definition of humility and ³humility is amandated attitude for all believers everywhere´.
5
According to Elmer, humility expressed in thelife of Christ¶s followers, is the foundation for the process of cross-cultural servanthood. Fillingthe majority of the pages in
ross-
Cu
lt 
u
ral Servanthood 
, the author develops his process of 
2
Duane Elmer,
ross-
Cu
lt 
u
ral Servanthood: Serving the World in
hristlike H 
um
ility
(Downers Grove,IL: InterVarsity Press, 2006), 17.
3
Ibid, 19.
4
Philippians 2:7.
5
Elmer, 33.
 
2
 creating cross-cultural servants through six critical steps: openness, acceptance, trust, learning,understanding, and serving.Following the development of the six critical steps, the author proceeds into his finalsection. Beginning with the subject of leadership, Elmer reminds his readers, ³the Bible speaksmuch more about being a servant than it does about leadership´.
6
Using this and other basic premises of Scripture, the author defines a leader¶s responsibility before Christ and before thosewhom he or she serves. In a challenging statement Elmer writes, ³I am deeply disturbed byleaders who isolate themselves in their study for most of the week, spending little time beingwith people, and then deliver exegetically correct and rhetorically powerful sermons that areirrelevant to the person in the pew.´
7
 Elmer continues his development of leadership through eyes of Scripture through anexamination of servanthood and power. He concludes with the struggle of walking through thefog of uncertainty while attempting to serve in a Christlike manner. His final chapter is a casestudy in the life of Joseph and how he practiced the six critical steps of openness, acceptance,trust, learning, understanding, and serving while having to balance leadership, power, and living,at times, in the fog of life.Having established the thesis and basic development Elmer¶s concepts, attention turns toan evaluation of these principles.
E
valuation
Elmer speaks as someone trying to change the direction of a mighty river. While hecertainly cautions against proceeding in integration without a proper Christ-centered framework,
6
Ibid, 156.
7
Ibid, 164.

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