Session 7: Cross-cultural servants

Outcomes (team members will):
  • Engage in an activity that helps them understand the feelings and frustrations that can arise in cross-cultural settings.
  • Review the characteristics of Jesus from Philippians 2 and apply them to entering a new culture.
  • Examine case studies of people entering another culture and pull out principles for entering well.
  • Write out their commitment to learning and serving the new culture.

Leader resources

  • How were your prayer times this week? What helped you pray? What hindered your prayers?
  • Take some time to go through the Lord’s prayer again, specifically focusing on the trip ahead.

Opening activity

Barnga game. It is best with at least 12 people; 16 is optimal. See Barnga book for instructions.

Digging into culture
  • If possible, have someone who has spent extended time in the host culture come and explain some of the important cultural differences between the home culture and host culture (both in values and behavior).
    • Key areas in how different cultures think (see brief explanation on handout):
      • View of time
      • View of hospitality
      • Indirect vs. direct communication
      • Relationship vs. task priority
      • Individual vs. group orientation
  • If someone who spent extended time in the host culture is not available, take stories from Foreign to Familiar.
  • After hearing examples from the speaker or the book, ask students to get in pairs. Each pair chooses one area of difference (i.e. one category from the list above). Ask each pair to role-play a frustrating moment based on their particular area of difference; each person then communicates to the bigger group why the situation was frustrating. The goal is to help participants feel how someone from another culture might feel.
  • Ask team members what area of difference will be most difficult for them.

Seeing a new culture like Jesus does

  • In groups, look again at Philippians 2:1-11. Pull out at least three principles and give an example of how each principle informs how we approach a new culture.
  • Hear at least one principle and application from each group.

Entering to serve

  • Make a commitment to honor the host culture in word and deed, and keep each other accountable to it!
  • Learn as much as you can about the host culture before you go. (Learning from people is better than books!)
  • Learn at least a few words in the local language.
  • Listen - observe - ask - try new things!
  • Don’t be quick to judge or generalize; culture is much more complex than what you see.
  • Remember you are guests in their home.
  • Focus on relationships rather than tasks.

Being a servant is all about considering others better than ourselves!


Ask each person to do some research on the place where we are going, including at least one phrase in the local language. Bring your observations to share next time.


Next session we will look at how to be intentional about sharing our faith with people in a different culture. In preparation, everyone should practice sharing the story of their faith journey in three minutes. Think about questions like:
  • What was your life like before you decided to follow Jesus?
  • What led to your decision to follow Jesus, and when did you embrace Jesus as your Savior and Lord?
  • What are some of the joys and challenges of walking as a disciple of Jesus? 
  • How have you seen God at work in your life?