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Cross-Cultural Servanthood Book Review

For this assignment, you will write a 3-page book review of Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility by Duane Elmer.

CONTENT Your paper should include the following elements:
One sentence indicating what percentage of the book you read: I read ____ % of the book I am using for this Book Review.  Please include this statement on the title page under your name.
A brief summary of the main concepts discussed in the book.
An analysis that clearly communicates the importance of the concepts discussed in the book. Be sure to use examples from the book.
A reflection on why the material presented in the book is relevant to Christian cross-cultural work. Be sure to use Scripture to support your thoughts.
A point of application – Explain how this material can apply to your field of study and discuss one element that you hope to incorporate into your field and/or ministry.
A title page and bibliography are required in addition to the 3 pages of content.
Citations from the text are required throughout the paper – Please use material from the book in your book review.
Current Turabian formatting is required.

Elmer: chs. 1–4
Elmer: chs. 5–10
Elmer: chs. 11–14

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Cross-Cultural Servanthood Book Review

The book Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility by Duane Elmer seems relevant to the early servants. However, a closer look reveals its relevance to modern-day servanthood by encouraging ministers who spread the gospel beyond cultural barriers to embrace the example Jesus set as a servant and not as the Lord. Herein is a thorough discussion of the central concepts discussed in the book, the importance of the concepts, the relevance of the book to Christian cross-cultural work, and how I can apply the book's concepts in social work.

Main Concepts

Elmer divides the book into three parts. In part one, Elmer focuses on the basic perspectives of servanthood. Here, the author makes an interesting perspective that cross-cultural servanthood is simple yet complex. In other words, the simple everyday events make servanthood easy, but "it's complex because servanthood is culturally defined." Here, Elmer emphasizes that ministers must act with cultural sensitivity while remaining true to the scripture. The only way that ministers can serve with cultural sensitivity is by embracing humility (Elmer 2006, 32).

In the second part, Elmer focuses on the process of servanthood. She highlights six primary skill sets that lead to Godly servanthood. The skills include openness (Elmer 2006, 39), accepting others (Elmer 2006, 58), trust through the confidence of people's good intent (Elmer 2006, 77), learning about, from, and with other people (Elmer 2006, 93), seeing patterns of behavior and values that reveal people's integrity (Elmer 2006, 125), and serving through word and deed (Elmer 2006, 145-146).

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In the third part, Elmer discusses the challenges of servanthood. Here, she introduces the "fog" of mystery concept where some ministers ask, "why in the world did God call me here to do this, and where are the results?" (Elmer 2006, 178). The author argues that the fog slowly clears to reveal God's presence and purpose. In all three parts, it is clear that Elmer emphasizes that effective and fruitful servanthood involves embracing openness to all people regardless of their culture by accepting them, building trust with them, and learning from them for profound understanding. 

Analysis of the Concepts

Elmer introduces the reader to numerous concepts. However, the most prominent include the essence of speech and behavior. The concepts are critical to anyone who intends to improve his cross-cultural interaction. In the first part of the book, Elmer introduces the speech concept and maintains that people show their pride through conversations. Therefore, the author encourages ministers to "use conversations to learn more by proving deeper, interpreting through repetition, supporting the speaker's emotions, and seeking to understand through questions and details" (Elmer 2006, 123). Ministers can rely on such an approach to make their servants understand that they care about their needs and experiences and intend to be a part of their culture. In James 1:19, good intentions to serve are not enough. Instead, servants of God must do more and speak less.

The concept of behavior is clear across Elmer's book. The author considers behavior as the ultimate goal of cross-cultural servanthood. At some point, he maintains that "others can't see our motives, only our actions, which become the basis for their impression of us" (Elmer 2006, 28). For instance, in the spirit of cross-cultural servanthood, an American minister cannot serve within Western culture's confines. In other words, missionaries and ministers must act like Jesus by doing away with the behaviors that they naturally consider as the best and become adaptable to embrace their host's culture for effective service delivery. In Romans 14:10, the Bible says, "why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God". In this case, the Bible and Elmer's book encourages Christians to embrace diversity by not acting in their ideal ways or behaviors but by welcoming all to the kingdom without judgment since we are all sinners in the presence of God. That is, no one is perfect in behavior or deed. 

Relevance to Cross-Cultural Work

The material presented in the book is relevant to Christian cross-cultural work. Elmer encourages embracing Christ-like effectiveness, as was depicted by Barnabas. He argues that Barnabas was "more versatile helping out as the situation required" (Elmer 2006, 166). The book is relevant to Christ ministers and missionaries because it encourages them to remain open and towards people from different cultures. Elmer implicitly reveals that despite a minister's cultural 'superiority, he or she must remain sensitive not to rely on their experiences, education, and doctrines to spread the gospel in a cross-cultural context. Ignoring people's culture is misguided and disrespectful, leading to the gradual death of the ministry.

Point of Application

Elmer's book is relevant to my social work practice. I believe that I have the gift of openness towards people from different cultures. However, on the element of speech, Elmer emphasizes the importance of language learning. I intend to learn new languages not to be heard through the acquired vocabularies but to understand. Since I encounter and work with people from different cultures, I will embrace Elmer's suggestion that we must "postpone naming ourselves 'servants' until the local people begin to use words that suggest they see servant attitudes and behaviors in us" (Elmer 2006, 37). As I progress throughout my field of study, I will focus on communicating cross-culturally to understand and help people who require assistance.





Elmer, Duane. Cross-Cultural Servanthood: Serving the World in Christlike Humility. InterVarsity Press Books, 2006.

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