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Crossing Cultures 101

The basic information you need to know to work in another culture.

Excellent and very insightful…I need to think on this more, a lot more! This should be part of all church discipleship programmes.

We live in a globalised world. In the 21st-century more people are on the move for different reasons than ever before. That does not just mean travel for fun but relocating to work and ‘do life’ in new cultures. Relocation even within one’s home culture is stressful enough – second in stress levels only to bereavement and divorce, some studies have shown. But relocating transculturally, whether for work, for study, to get married or to fulfil a missions call, can be exponentially more so. But by far the worst part of that stress is when it is unexpected.

“Forewarned is forearmed”, they say - so what if you could be forewarned about some at least of what to expect in making this move and how to find support in doing so? That in essence is what this course is about. Please note, we are not talking about the specifics of the actual culture you will be moving to. For that you will still need specific orientation. But what this course will give you are some general principles that apply widely to any cross-cultural experience.

Module Details

Module 1 “Know Thyself”
In this module, Christine will be addressing the need for us to know ourselves as the product of our own cultures, and will be looking at how what we don’t know can hinder us in a cross-cultural context.

In Lesson 1 we will ask the question “What is Culture?” and look at some definitions and analogies to aid our understanding.

In Lesson 2 we will explore “Socialisation” as the process of acquiring our own culture – and with it the ‘cultural baggage’ of our own norms and biases.

In Lesson 3 we’ll look at what to do with this Cultural Baggage, and explore how to dismantle the wall of separation that Paul talks of between Jew and Gentile and every other culture down through the ages.

Finally in Lesson 4 we will talk about the Goal of Cultural Intelligence, which, if we embrace it, will help us grow in appreciating cultural diversity rather than fearing it.


Module 2 The Process and Challenge of Cultural Adaptation.


Intro video: Shows what the crossing culture journey looks like and what we’ll be covering in this module.

In Lesson 1 we will look at Pre-Departure as an important prelude to your actual arrival in the new culture, the importance of good closure and how to pace yourself to avoid physical exhaustion and emotional depletion. We’ll point you to some check lists and hopefully help you to plan well for the coming adventure.

In Lesson 2, we’ll look at the usual trajectory of the crossing culture journey, during which some degree of Culture Shock is an expected stage along the way. That includes the ‘inner journey’ - the internal processing of external factors. We’ll look at the contributory causes and symptoms of Culture Shock and what to look out for in yourself and others.

Lesson 3 tackles the issue of Re-Entry Stress. Why deal with that now, you might ask? Well, I think it is good to be aware that it will likely happen to you so that you can count it in as part of the cost of making this move. This crossing-culture process will change you, and your kids even more. Are you really up for that? One thing is certain: life will never be quite the same again! And the better you adjust to the host culture, the less you will feel at home back in your own culture when you return. Culture shock is expected when going to the field, but few expect to encounter it again when ‘just’ going home!

Lesson 4: (still to come) Language Learning - why it is important and some aids to helping you in the process.

A total revelation for me and it helps to explain some of my past struggles in cross-cultural experiences.

Module 3: How to find Support

In this module we will be examining the different dimensions of support that are needed for a successful trans-cultural experience or lifestyle. Having good support systems in place can be the make or break of your adventure. So let’s investigate what this looks like.

Intro video: We’ll explore how Member Care (a widely used term in mission circles to describe the networks for support that are needed) has developed over recent decades. We’ll introduce you to the Best Practice Model of member care and its component parts, which will form the foundation for the lessons in the module.

In Lesson 1: The Core of member care is the care we receive from the Master Himself. No one else can take His place, and we need to make space for growing our relationship with Him throughout our lives, on and off the field.

Lesson 2 addresses the vital issue of Self Care. Again, this is something that no one else can do for us, and we are responsible for our own health and wellbeing to the extent that we do all we can to live in balance and learn how to address the inevitable stresses of intercultural living.

In Lesson 3 we look at Mutual Care, which is the other half of the equation on Ring 2 of the Best Practice model, caring for one another in the team.

Lesson 4 addresses the issue of support from home, how to raise it up, foster it and make best use of it, seeing it as ‘partnership in the gospel’ as St Paul called it in Phil 1. We’ll talk about support groups composed of close family, friends and ‘champions’, whom you need to select carefully and to invite on board with you on your journey. We’ll seek to show what a difference that makes both on the field and after you return

Finally, in Lesson 5 we’ll dive into the impact of cross-cultural living on kids growing up ‘between worlds’ as some call it. There are negative factors, but also some powerful positives. We’ll explore both, asking how we can deal helpfully with the former, while maximising the latter. We’ll explore the term Third Culture Kid, and the implications for the next generation of growing up that way. In this lesson we will also point to the value of the last two rings on the model, for TCKs and for others – Specialist Care and Network Care.


Your Instructor - Christine Paterson

Christine Paterson was brought up in a mission environment - both her parents served for over forty years as missionaries in Africa, where Christine spent her early years. This unique background has helped her to be the support and helpmate for her husband Ross in the various countries to which the Lord has led them.

Ross and Christine were married in 1975 and they served together (after Ross’ six years as a single missionary) in Taiwan where their first daughter was born.

In 1979 they returned to the UK and during the next fourteen years, they planted and led a local church. A further four daughters were born to them in this time. In addition to raising a growing family, Christine was also actively involved in church life, mainly in hospitality, pastoral care and prayer counselling.

Eventually, in 1994, the family moved back to Asia spending 13 years in Singapore as their international base, before returning to Taiwan in 2007.

More recently, since the girls are now grown and leading their own lives, Christine has started to be involved in a wider speaking ministry - jointly with Ross and occasionally independently.

Out of her experience as a “missionary kid”, as the wife of a missionary and as a mother of five daughters who were thrown into cross-cultural living when most were in their teens, Christine has a particular concern for the area of mission support. Christine is a graduate of York University where she studied Linguistics. She has also been involved in assisting Ross with his several books on mission.

Ross and Christine both have a heart for mission worldwide and are currently based in Taipei, working as mission consultants for a large church there. They have five daughters and are grandparents to five granddaughters and a grandson.

“This is a really vital course for the cross-cultural worker…”
Shi Ting

Curriculum Breakdown

Module 1 - "Know Thyself"

    1. Lesson 1: What is Culture (20:37)
    2. Lesson 2: Socialization (22:12_
    3. Lesson 3: Baggage and Walls (25:01)
    4. Lesson 4: Towards Cultural Intelligence (29:25)

Module 2 - "Cultural Adaption"

      1. Introduction (12:04)
      2. Lesson 1: Pre-Departure (28:33)
      3. Lesson 2: Culture Shock (29:38)
      4. Lesson 3: Re-entry (28:11)

Module 3 - "Building a Solid Support Base"

    1. Introduction (9:37)
    2. Lesson 1: The Core of Member Care (27:39)
    3. Lesson 2: Self Care / Mutual Care (60:15)
    4. Lesson 3: Sender Care (35:19)
    5. Lesson 4: Specialist Care: Third Culture Kids (29:39)

Frequently Asked Questions

When does the course start and finish?

The course starts now and never ends! It is a completely self-paced online course - you decide when you start and when you finish.

Where will I access the course?

Our online learning takes place on our dedicated training platform, found at courses.fieldpartner.org.

How long do I have access to the course?

How does lifetime access sound? After enrolling, you have unlimited access to this course for as long as you like - across any and all devices you own.

What if I have a problem with the course?

If you have any issues with accessing the course, or with its content, please get in touch, we'd be happy to help! You can contact us at fieldpartner.org/contact.

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Reviews of FieldPartner

  • Jackie Pullinger, Cross cultural Missionary to Hong Kong

    Jackie Pullinger

    Missionary to Hong Kong since 1966
    Founder of the St Stephen's Society
    Ross & Christine’s training and ministry have always had a biblical base, integrity and practicality. This material meets a need vital for the mission field and use on the ground. It will help to make Jesus known in different cultures.
    George Verwer, Operation Mobiliation - for sharing the gospel

    George Verwer

    Founder and former International Director
    Operation Mobilization
    I have followed Ross since his student days at Cambridge when he also joined OM for a short time. I have seen God using him and his wife in wonderful ways and their commitment to China is outstanding. They have a teaching ministry that has impacted many lives and you will be blessed as you take time to read and listen.
  • Simon Guillebaud

    Founder And International Director
    Great Lakes Outreach
    The Patersons have been a lifelong inspiration to me in laying down their lives for the call to cross-cultural missions. I cannot think of any better training available on the web than FieldPartner, which is the synthesis of their five decades of learning on the ground as authentic practitioners.
    Rachel, Missions student from Taiwan


    From Taiwan
    Before going on a short mission trip to China, I learned a lot at the Barnabas School of Missions, which was built by the Antioch Missions founder Ross Paterson and his wife Christine. The program provides training to challenge us to want to see God glorified among the nations. Ross and Christine’s 48 years of mission experiences taught me how to do it - and how not to do it!
  • "I am a huge fan of cross culture training before hitting the mission field... I would go as far as to say is absolutely the difference between being successful and lasting out long-term on the mission field and burning out within a short period of time and having to head back home"
    Lydia, attended Ross and Christine's Cross cultural training

    Years of mission experience
    in Asia and Middle East

  • Simon Guillebaud, Founder at Great Lakes Outreach for cross cultural missions


    Student of 'Crossing Cultures 101'
    ...a total revelation for me and it helps to explain some of my past struggles in cross-cultural experiences. As I've been exposed to several cultures, I often wonder what's my true identity and have this constant longing for a sense of belonging, while at the same time I appreciate the fact the exposure has made me more adaptable...Thank you!
    Rachel, Missions student from Taiwan


    Student of 'The Antioch Factor' &
    'Crossing Cultures 101'
    That was excellent and very insightful...I need to think on this more, a lot more! So much to take in and think over in this module. This should be part of all church discipleship programmes.
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