Missionaries and Cultures: When to Bend, When to Break

Dr. Kenneth Nehrbass of Biola University explains the connections between global cultures and the image of God.

Everybody talks about “engaging culture.” Culture is a slippery concept. When should missionaries break from their host culture, and when should they bend with it? Is missions mainly about creating countless contextualized Christianities across various cultures, or is it also about assimilating believers into one overarching Christian culture? We discussed these issues with Dr. Kenneth Nehrbass of Biola University, author of multiple books including God’s Image and Global Cultures.

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Alex Kocman & Scott Dunford

Alex Kocman is the Director of Communications and Engagement for ABWE. He serves as general editor for Message Magazine and co-hosts The Missions Podcast. After earning his M.A. in Communication and B.S. in Biblical Studies, he served as an online apologetics instructor with Liberty University and a youth pastor in Pennsylvania, where he now resides with his wife and three children. Read his blog or follow him on X/Twitter.

Scott Dunford is the pastor of Western Hills Church in San Mateo, Calif. Previously, Scott served as Vice President of Mobilization and Communications for ABWE and as a missionary in East Asia. Scott graduated from Northland International University (B.A. in Pastoral Studies), earned his M.A. in biblical studies from Central Baptist Theological Seminary, his M.B.A. from Cornerstone University, and is currently enrolled in Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s D.Min. program with an emphasis on missions.