Understanding Culture in Ministry: Building BridgesCourse Level: Basic

Course Summary

Ministry in the United States and in several countries around the world is often to and with persons of different cultural backgrounds.  What may work for one group in a particular cultural setting, may not work for another cultural setting.  Thus, there is the need to understand the skills needed to reach across cultures and build bridges even as ministry takes place. Although the materials used are peculiar to the United States, the suggested steps can be applied to any multicultural settings.
There are no prerequisites for this course.

Successful completion of this course earns 2.5 CEU's. Click here for more information about CEU's.

General Course Objectives

  • To provide better understanding of ministering with persons from different cultural backgrounds.
  • To equip ministry leaders with skills that will enable them to interact with persons of cultures other than their own.
  • To understand various cultures and how people communicate within different cultures.
  • To understand the Church’s viewpoint of Evangelization and the New Evangelization within different cultural contexts.
  • To identify obstacles that impede intercultural relations and find better solutions of interacting with one another as Church.

Course Materials

  • No books required. All readings are online.

Course Structure and Highlights

  • Week 1: Opportunities of Evangelization and Inculturation (Module I)
    • To understand the meaning and purpose of both evangelization and the New Evangelization.
    • To examine prevailing cultures in light of the New Evangelization.
    • To explore key ethnic and cultural groups in the Church, as well as the opportunities and challenges that they present for the New Evangelization.
    • To understand the meaning of inculturation, or evangelization of cultures.
  • Week 2: Understanding the Other. (Module II)
    • To familiarize participants with the basic concepts that underlie intercultural competence: concepts of culture; dimensions of interculturality (knowledge, skills, and attitudes); and different indices for understanding culture.
    • To develop the communication skills needed to function in different kinds of cultures.
  • Week 3: How to handle conflict (Module III)
    • To introduce participants to how groups from collectivist and individualist perspectives see themselves and how they view groups constituted differently from themselves.
    • To indicate how these different perceptions affect meetings where groups with diverse backgrounds need to interact with the other.
    • To outline some of the cultural features that play into intergroup conflict and how these features might be addressed.
  • Week 4: Avoiding Stereotyping (Module IV)
    • To identify the processes of in-group and out-group perception and behavior.
    • To examine ways in which we view the "other".
    • To explore the dynamics of racism and better understand its effects on its victims.
    • To learn how to positively influence the healthy dynamics of living together in community.
  • Week 5: Pastoral Approach (Module V)
    • To experience a spirituality that supports intercultural ministry and reconciliation
    • To focus on the developmental process for ecclesial integration and inclusion, specifically in diverse parish settings, including competencies for building relationships, effective communication and decision making.
    • To identify models for effective pastoral responses, principles, and practices that shape fruitful ministry in intercultural settings.