- Background to the Project
- Components in the Project
- Possibilities After the Cultural Curriculum Project
Cultural Curriculum Project
Summary: This page offers an overview and detailed information for people who are interested in my curriculum project on cultural interpretation and ministry contextualization. I began research for this project in 1991, and writing in 1995. I completed the first draft of the modules in 2010, and am currently editing the final curriculum.
Background to the Project
My dominant learning styles drive me to observe and analyze details, discern patterns in these datasets, and project these trends toward possible or probable consequences. Also, my multidisciplinary academic background encourages me to take in broad ranges of material to be as comprehensive as possible. It has become a natural way of life for me to process experiences through dialog with friends and through writing. That is why I produced over 1 million words in this project in the rough draft stage.
Aptitude tests I took in high school indicated that my strongest career possibilities should come from pursuits in these areas in this order: engineering, physical sciences, biological sciences, business, social sciences, and arts and humanities. Huh … well, there is no accounting at times for God’s providential intervention. If I’d stayed more with the science side of things, I suspect I’d now be involved in something holistic, like urban planning and sustainability. Instead, what I ended up passionate about – studies of paradigm and cultural systems, studies of the future, and church planting strategy – basically turned that pyramid of career possibilities on its head!
In a highly unexpected “providential package,” I’ve seen in retrospect that just about everything I have studied and experienced provides a natural base for integrating multiple disciplines into the highly interdisciplinary studies of culturology, strategic foresight (i.e., futures), and organizational development. Instead of sciences, my college training was in linguistics and Teaching English as a Second Language. These studies often dealt with issues of cross-cultural communication and underlying sources of conflict other than differences in languages. I also had course concentrations in sociology, economics, and political science/public administration, with a smattering of just about everything imaginable – from calculus and music education methods, to computer science and high Gothic culture.
Since college, I have done significant periods of self-study on international human rights movements, social dynamics and “parallel cultures” in Soviet-era communist countries, approaches to counseling, holistic health, learning style theory, creativity theory, organic systems, and complex systems. Alongside my studies were the periodic practitioner experiences since high school, such as an ecology internship, and volunteer leadership in community agencies, church ministries, and political activities.
In 1995, I began more intense studies on the influence of “identity subcultures” in people’s values and lifestyles. I had already spent several years seeking to understand various transformation influences going on at a national and international level – what we would now be calling the global paradigm shift. From studies of subcultures, I moved seamlessly into studies of generational dynamics and was part of the early years of what began as “GenX Ministry,” which became “Postmodern Ministry,” which became “Emerging Church,” which is becoming “Missional Movement,” and who knows where it will go next …
I also began my involvement in church planting teams during the mid-1990s (although I’d been involved with two young church plants during my twenties). The difficulties typical of trying something new, whether in an indigenous or new-to-me cultural setting, forced me to pay attention to methodological models of “being/doing church.” I progressed toward a role as church planting and ministry design strategist. It seemed that every few years, I’d find myself working at deeper levels of analysis because things rarely worked perfectly. And actually, I usually had to try to understand why I was in a situation where sincere leaders just could not fit with the cultures they wanted to reach, or could not seem to make the paradigm shift needed to accomplish what they said they wanted to do in their church.
Components in the Project
All along the way, I kept writing historical documentation and articles and strategy reports and futurist analyses and ministry profiles of whatever I was involved with. I came to see that there were significant gaps in how we typically train church leaders in North America. So, I began turning my writings toward “immersion learning curriculum” that could equip leaders in both conceptual and practitioner skills needed for interpreting culture, contextualizing ministry, and transforming society. The “immersion learning” part meant creating a range of activity-based tools and experiences that contribute to the training process for people with different learning style preferences and processes. These exercises included such things as:
- Original assessment tools to help people identify and understand their learning styles, cultural background, potential for cultural fluidity, best roles in ministry teamwork that involves cross-cultural work, etc.
- Case studies with real-world scenarios and decide-for-yourself strategy issues, to help develop discernment and decision-making skills in both individual and group leadership environments.
- Group activities that force to the surface people’s differences in information processing styles/learning styles, critical values, theological assumptions, strategy and structure preferences, methodological models, and cultural lifestyles – and then facilitate reflection on discerning what differences are biblically critical and which are not, and what to do about them.
- Film studies that offer armchair opportunities to observe, analyze, and interpret realistic situations of personal and cultural conflict, and consider potential for providential “redemptive purposes” beyond the conflict.
- Identify or create original visual media (e.g., film, video games, 3-D and 4-D graphics presentations, posters, graphic novels), concrete media (e.g., board games, trading cards, toys), multimedia (e.g., completely searchable document system with hyperlinked glossary, wiki, graphics, PowerPoints, etc.), and simulation games – all of which provide an opportunity to understand how “culture” is transmitted and changed through everyday objects and experiences.
- Field work exercises and experiences to increase learning readiness by showing how much more we need to learn, and to give apprentices the chance to apply their conceptual frameworks and culturologist skills at increasing levels of sophistication.
This illustrates the main reason why I have not yet sought to publish this material. This is an entire system for culture and contextualization, not just a book (or two or five or eight!). Also, to publish certain parts of it spoils the possibilities for learning. Students from certain backgrounds and learning styles will be prone to mistakenly assume they can “get it” about culture and contextualization simply by reading about it. But cultural conflict and its resolution cannot be figured out strictly by exposure to concepts; the culture shock and emotional frustration it causes needs to be experienced to be truly understood.
For the sake of maintaining the integrity of this material as a learning system, I have foregone publishing at this time, other than what is in my blog. However, the time is nearing when it appears the system will be ready as an integrated, interdisciplinary training system for everyday disciples serving in the new global paradigm. If you are interested in this curriculum, you can contact me by posting a comment on this page. That will notify me of your email address and I will contact you from there.
Possibilities After the Cultural Curriculum Project
- Finish creating a suite of about 20 assessment tools for personal discovery, team building, and cultural engagement. These are all based in my own original perspective on culturology, and will integrate into the Cultural Curriculum Project frameworks.
- Integrate the curriculum modules with original media and make available in some yet-to-be-determined form of hypermedia/multimedia format.
- Pursue studies into game theory and simulation strategies for use in leadership development. Complete and beta-test a seven-level simulation game for application of cultural engagement and social transformation.
- Complete and present multiple film study series on themes of theology, personal transformation, and cultural transformation in films based on: Jane Austen novels, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Philip K. Dick stories, post-human and cyberpunk genres, Marvel comics, The Golden Compass/His Dark Materials, and the portrayal of four generations across long-time and newly-immigrated racial groups in American culture.
- If I survive all that, who knows – maybe I’ll pursue a master’s degree in strategic foresight or organizational systems design and development …