Sep 25

Culture Shock and Missionary Failure

The following article was actually written more than seven years ago, when this topic was a burning issue in my own heart and mind. However, it remained unpublished till now. Since we presently have two new missionary families with us at Cornerstone Baptist Church, Kaohsiung, I feel that the time has come to dust off this article and make it available to others. My only claims to authority for writing such an article are 1) twenty-five years of personal missionary experience 2) informed by Scripture and 3) wide reading in missions literature.

Here is the first paragraph. Follow the link to read the whole article.

What is Culture Shock?

Culture shock can occur when any individual is transplanted into a foreign culture for an extended period of time. It is not only a subjective feeling, but also a real, objective psychological experience. Culture shock is the disorientation that a person experiences when all of the familiar cultural landmarks he uses to navigate social relationships and to function in society are moved or removed. These cultural landmarks are learned at a very young age and are unconsciously held (for the most part). The more different the new (host) culture is from the individual’s birth culture, the more severely culture shock will be felt. For instance, a person from a Western culture (England, Western Europe, the United States, Australia, etc.) will face greater culture shock when entering an Asian or Middle-Eastern nation (and vice-versa) than when entering a nation with a culture similar to his own. A person in the process of adjustment to a new culture will pass through four stages: the honeymoon period, culture shock, cultural adaptation, and bi-cultural facility.

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1 comment to Culture Shock and Missionary Failure

  • Rick Roth

    Hi Matt!
    Good article to be well considered by those wanting to serve on the field. Keep your faithful hand on the proverbial plow. Praying for you and yours.

    In His Service,

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