Interpreting Culture through the Lens of Scripture

We had a most unusual and fascinating training in April. I had met Herman Heyman at a training several months before and asked if he could make a custom program for our team when he returned, which he was more than glad to do. We explored for two days questions like

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  • What are the unique features of Russian culture?
  • What are the corresponding features of the Kingdom of God?
  • How do they contrast, and what can we do about it?
  • How do we build a ministry around the values that will strike the deepest blow to the Kingdom of Darkness as entrenched here?

We used a grid that comes from secular research on cultures, dividing them into 5 critical areas:

  1. Power distance: how far is it from decision maker to the commoner?
  2. Uncertainty avoidance: how much does a culture build systems to keep from dealing with uncertainty?
  3. Individual vs. collective thinking: how much is it each man for himself or sink or swim together?
  4. Masculine vs. Feminine culture: is there a significant sex role difference, or are they largely obliterated?
  5. Short-term vs. long-term thinking: do we solve today’s crises, or do we plan for the next generation?

As you might imagine, we asked more questions that we answered, but we have a working grid of Russian culture that we can now apply to any and all work we do. Oh, and do you want to know how Russia fares?

  1. Russia has one of the greatest power distances worldwide.
  2. Russia is near the top in wanting to avoid uncertainty. This explains complex bureaucratic structures.
  3. Much more towards collective thinking. Russia is more of an Eastern culture in this sense.
  4. Highly masculine culture, yet women rule the home, though they don’t like it at all.
  5. Totally short-term thinking.
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