CULTURAL ADAPTERS & A exercise to help you identify consonant, selective and dissonant adapters.

Commentary by Prof. B.: Recently a student shared a case study which is not too dissimilar to what many of my students and colleagues have experienced. This student created an informal fallacy by equating generational age to culture. Here is the LEAD 600 student’s case study followed by an exercise  the reader can utilize to identify the consonant, selective and dissonant adapters in the story.

Student: You’ve presented a particularly intriguing ethical dilemma. You (another student) said, “Based upon research from Barna, more than ¾ of Christians come to faith before they are 21 years old.” However, you also stated, “The older worship leader should have equal opportunity to a worship position.” Therein lies the dilemma. Equality has forever been a problem in society. In his classic book on poverty and racism, Howard Thurmon closed a chapter with the following words: “Instead of relation between the weak and the strong there is merely a relationship between human beings. A man is a man, no more, no less. The awareness of this fact marks the supreme moment of human dignity.” In a conversation about church strategy and demographics, the desire to hire a younger person makes complete sense. However, in a conversation about equality and human dignity, the reduction of possibility for an older candidate is an offense. Of course, Thurmon is referring to serious issues like the racism of the 40’s and 50’s. However, from a broad ethical perspective, his statement remains true and useful.”

I responded:  I appreciate that you stated, “In a conversation about church strategy and demographics, the desire to hire a younger person makes complete sense.  However, in a conversation about equality and human dignity, the reduction of possibility for an older candidate is an offense.”

I think the key is to not always equate age with culture. Doing su could be an informal fallacy. By that I mean, your point seems to be that the worship leader should relate to the age of those people who make a decision for Christ. However as we know, being part of an age demarcation, i.e. generation, does not necessarily mean they are part of that culture. There are many people who live and assimilate into a dissimilar culture from which they’ve been raised. The culture in which most people have been raised is age specific. But we all know people who have been raised in one culture and yet relate to another… even assimilate into it.

To understand this phenomena is to understand the difference between “consonant, selective and dissonant adapters.” Charles Kraft gives an introduction to this phenomena in his classic, “Christianity in Culture: A Study of Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective” (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1979), p. 113.

Kraft points out there are three types of adapters:

1) Dissonant adapters adapt very little to another culture because they’re very proud of their existing culture. They can become xenophobic and can usually only be reached by indigenous art forms such as music, liturgy and language.

2) Selective adapters adapting some areas but like to preserve the traditions of their culture. in my experience, they are often found in churches that offer blended services. They enjoy multiple cultures but sometimes are disingenuous: seeking to push other dissonant adapters to adapt beyond the comfort level of the dissonant adapters. This has been called the “creator complex,” e.g. to make over others in the image of our culture or the dominant culture. Wagner describes this as “Deep in the heart of man (sic), even in missionaries, lurks that ‘creator complex’ by which he (sic) delights in making other people over in his (sic) own image.” Wagner, C. P. (1979). “Our kind of people: The ethical dimensions of church growth in America,” John Knox Press, p. 76.

3) Consonant adapters adapt to a different culture previous culture and hold on very little to their previous culture.

There is a further an explanation of this in “The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart,” The Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013, pp. 69-70) https://churchhealthwiki.wordpress.com/2016/05/15/cultural-adapters-3-types-consonant-selective-dissonant/

Now, knowing those missiological terms, how would you analyze the players in this example? The purpose of this exercise is to increase your awareness to anthropological in sociological dynamics in our staffing, volunteerism and leadership.

CULTURAL ADAPTERS & 3-Types: Consonant, Selective & Dissonant

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min., Ph.D., 5/12/16.

To understand 3-types of “cultural adapters” read the paragraph below excerpted from Bob Whitesel (The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart, The Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013, pp. 69-70).

“People from emerging cultures usually adapt to the dominant culture in one of three ways.

Consonant adapters are people from an emerging culture who adapt almost entirely to the dominant culture. Over time they will mirror the dominant culture in behavior, ideas and products. Thus, they will usually be drawn to a church that reflects the dominant culture.

Selective adapters adapt to some parts of a dominant culture, but reject other aspects. They want to preserve their cultural heritage, but will compromise in most areas to preserve harmony.(1) They can be drawn to the Blended Model because it still celebrates to a degree their culture.

Dissonant adapters fight to preserve their culture in the face of a dominant culture’s influence. (2) Dissonant adapters may find the blended format of the Blended Church as too inauthentic and disingenuous to their strongly held cultural traditions.”

(1) Alejandro Portes and Ruben G. Rumbaut in Immigrant American: A Portrait (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996). They suggest that organizations comprised of selective adapters will be a more harmonious organization.

(2) Ruben G. Rumbaut, “Acculturation, Discrimination, and Ethnic Identity Among Children of Immigrants,” in Discovering Successful Pathways in Children’s Development: Mixed Methods in the Study of Childhood and Family Life, Thomas S. Weisner ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), Charles Kraft, Christianity in Culture: A Study of Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1979), p. 113.

See also on ChurchHealth.wiki info on the related study of “ethnic consciousness” by Tetsunao Yamamori, who created an “Ethnic Consciousness Scale” to measure the degree to which a person identifies with a specific culture. Tetsunao Yamamori’s article on ethnic consciousness and titled, “How to reach a new culture in your community” can be found online and in Win Arn et al., The Pastor’s Church Growth Handbook (1979), pp. 171-181.

DISSONANT ADAPTERS & The Tanning of America. Is a New Blended Culture Emerging?

by Bob Whitesel, Feb. 1, 2015.

Author Steve Stoute in his book The Tanning of America (2011) points out a new culture is emerging in America where “brown, black and white mixed together makes tan” (quote by Adrienne Samuels Gibbs, “Steve Stoute’s New World Order.” Ebony Magazine, Dec. 2011 – Jan. 2012, p. 87 – attached below).  Stoute argues (see the attached article in Ebony Magazine for an overview) that there is arising a mixed Tan Culture among the Millennial Generation that does not see divisions based upon skin color.

I ask my students to read the article and tell me if you agree with Stoute, that a new culture is emerging.  And then I ask students to …

1) Suggest what the church should do about this.

2) Discuss briefly why they think everyone will become part of this tan culture or if some people will remain “dissonant adapters.”

To understand “dissonant adapters” read the paragraph below excerpted from Bob Whitesel (The healthy Church: Practical Ways to Strengthen a Church’s Heart, The Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013, pp. 69-70).

Healthy Church Cover sm“People from emerging cultures usually adapt to the dominant culture in one of three ways.”

Consonant adapters are people from an emerging culture who adapt almost entirely to the dominant culture. Over time they will mirror the dominant culture in behavior, ideas and products. Thus, they will usually be drawn to a church that reflects the dominant culture.

Selective adapters adapt to some parts of a dominant culture, but reject other aspects. They want to preserve their cultural heritage, but will compromise in most areas to preserve harmony.(1) They can be drawn to the Blended Model because it still celebrates to a degree their culture.

Dissonant adapters fight to preserve their culture in the face of a dominant culture’s influence. (2) Dissonant adapters may find the blended format of the Blended Church as too inauthentic and disingenuous to their strongly held cultural traditions.”

(1) Alejandro Portes and Ruben G. Rumbaut in Immigrant American: A Portrait (Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996). They suggest that organizations comprised of selective adapters will be a more harmonious organization.
(2) Ruben G. Rumbaut, “Acculturation, Discrimination, and Ethnic Identity Among Children of Immigrants,” in Discovering Successful Pathways in Children’s Development: Mixed Methods in the Study of Childhood and Family Life, Thomas S. Weisner ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), Charles Kraft, Christianity in Culture: A Study of Dynamic Biblical Theologizing in Cross-Cultural Perspective (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1979), p. 113.

ARTICLE Steve Stoute Tanning of America

See also on ChurchHealth.wiki info on the related study of “ethnic consciousness” by Tetsunao Yamamori, who created an “Ethnic Consciousness Scale” to measure the degree to which a person identifies with a specific culture. Tetsunao Yamamori’s article on ethnic consciousness and titled, “How to reach a new culture in your community” can be found online and in Win Arn et al., The Pastor’s Church Growth Handbook (1979), pp. 171-181.

DIVERSITY & A Portrait of the Adult Children of Immigrants #PewResearch

SDT-2013-02-07-Immigrant-Gen-1-02

by Pew Research, 2/7/13

“Second-generation Americans—the 20 million adult U.S.-born children of immigrants—are substantially better off than immigrants themselves on key measures of socioeconomic attainment, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. They have higher incomes; more are college graduates and homeowners; and fewer live in poverty. In all of these measures, their characteristics resemble those of the full U.S. adult population.”

Read more at… http://www.pewsocialtrends.org/2013/02/07/second-generation-americans/

HISPANICS & When Labels Don’t Fit: A Conversation About Identity #PewResearch

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: “Research indicates that many Hispanic and Latino Americans lean more towards being “dissonant adapters” rather than “consonant adapters.” This means our churches must respect their cultures and language by giving them equal access and privilege in our congregations. For more on this see my explanations on how this can foster healthy churches in ORGANIX (the chapter called “Graffiti” about the colorful ethnic mix America is becoming).”

When Labels Don’t Fit: Hispanics and Their Views of Identity by PAUL TAYLOR, MARK HUGO LOPEZ, JESSICA MARTÍNEZ and GABRIEL VELASCO, Pew Research, 4/4/12

“Nearly four decades after the United States government mandated the use of the terms ‘Hispanic’ or ‘Latino’ to categorize Americans who trace their roots to Spanish-speaking countries, a new nationwide survey of Hispanic adults finds that these terms still haven’t been fully embraced by Hispanics themselves. A majority (51%) say they most often identify themselves by their family’s country of origin; just 24% say they prefer a pan-ethnic label.

Hispanics are also divided over how much of a common identity they share with other Americans. About half (47%) say they consider themselves to be very different from the typical American. And just one-in-five (21%) say they use the term ‘American’ most often to describe their identity. On these two measures, U.S.-born Hispanics (who now make up 48% of Hispanic adults in the country) express a stronger sense of affinity with other Americans and America than do immigrant Hispanics.”Moreover, by a ratio of more than two-to-one (69% versus 29%), survey respondents say that the more than 50 million Latinos in the U.S. have many different cultures rather than a common culture. Respondents do, however, express a strong, shared connection to the Spanish language. More than eight-in-ten (82%) Latino adults say they speak Spanish, and nearly all (95%) say it is important for future generations to continue to do so.

Read more at … http://www.pewhispanic.org/2012/04/04/when-labels-dont-fit-hispanics-and-their-views-of-identity/