Doctor of Leadership in Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

Stop Gentrifying Culture in the Name of Jesus

Written by: on January 31, 2019

Leadership is not the summation of self-reflection or internal comprehension, but the cause and effect of intersection within a culture, gender, generation, and personality. Therefore, in order for one to lead influentially, they must first place themselves under scrutiny. Erin Meyer, author, and professor at INSEAD invites her readers to enter into this paradox and see their reflection from a more international viewpoint.  In her best-selling book, The Culture Map: Breaking Through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business, she challenges readers to lean into the diversified perspective of those around them and react though engaged listening.

According to a recent interview on CNN, Erin Meyer reveals that intercultural communication must be understood through cultural relativity. She explains that “When we place ourselves in someone else’s shoes, we are able to understand them more effectively and understand how they view us.”[1] According to Erin:

If an executive wants to build and manage global teams that can work together successfully, he needs to understand not just how people from his own culture experience people from various international cultures, but also how those international cultures perceive one another.[2]

Therefore, cultural interaction and understanding are not tied to an interrogative level, but a conversation level. Cultures need to be understood through the lens of interaction, which means that there needs to be an openness to accept critical input. According to the author, “When you are in and of a culture – as fish are in and out of water – it is often difficult or even impossible to see that culture.”[3] We’ve all heard it said, birds of a feather like to flock together. The same sentiment can be made of culture, language, gender, and creed. If one is looking to influence those outside of their reflection, then they must understand how they are viewed. This is why it is imperative to cling to the cross and not our perception of Christian culture.

This past week, I had the incredible opportunity to see heaven touch the earth. Christian men and women from all cultures, all languages, and all ages joined together in prayer and in purpose. They did not gloss over their differences or surrender to a false idea of conformity. They entered into the auditorium with their customs, their cultures, and traditions and gave one another a glimpse at the face of Christ. At the Pastor’s Prayer Summit, I interacted with leaders from Jamaica, Uganda, India, China, Korea, Spain, Puerto Rico, and countless other countries. However, each interaction was varied. I had to gauge the quadrant of each culture and assess what type of communication would show them honor and respect. For those who were more relational, I took the time to sit down over a meal. For those who preferred straightforward and blunt interaction, I made sure to present my pitch and respect their time. Erin Meyer reminds her readers:

You may find that, no matter how well you shuttle back and forth, it will be difficult to satisfy all of your listeners all of the time. But if you are aware of the Persuading scale and the challenges it presents, you can read the cues from your audience more clearly and react accordingly.[4]

Each cultural interaction is a dance – it is an opportunity to lean in and listen to one’s way of worship and harmonize your support.

For many of us in the North American church, diversity is still a system of hierarchy. We develop relationships with those who are culturally different than us, but we see them as a mission field, instead of fellow missionaries. This leads to a generalized perception of race, language, and migration. The same can be true of all forms of ministry. It’s easier to run an effective ministry that’s separated from cultural interaction and understanding. It keeps people groups in boxes and makes us feel like we’re making an actual difference. However, if ministries lack incarnational interaction that bridges culture, age, gender, and race, then we are simply martyrs who segment the otherness of people into hierarchical groupings.

Erin delves into the eight facets of cultural understanding and challenges us to understand people through their preference towards “communicating, evaluating, persuading, leading, deciding, trusting, disagreeing and scheduling.”[5] She goes on to state:

Leaders have always needed to understand human nature and personality differences to be successful in business – that’s nothing new. What’s new is the requirement for twenty-first-century leaders to be prepared to understand a wider, richer array of work styles than ever before and to be able to determine what aspects of an interaction are simply a result of personality and which are a result of differences in cultural perspective.[6]

We aren’t called to reinvent the wheel, but we should know how the wheel works. One practical tool is by using Google Analytics[7]. This tool can pinpoint your effectiveness and help you understand the level of your cultural engagement. You can find out how many people are connecting to your church by location, age, gender, and language. Another great tool for social media analytics is Later.com[8] This software program will aid you in becoming more culturally aware by giving you a real-time and monthly evaluation of your Facebook and Instagram engagement. You’ll be able to break the information down by country, state, and city in order to gauge your cultural influence. Lastly, surveymonkey.com[9] will enable you to tap into your audience and understand the needs of your geographical location at a deeper level.

Sometimes the greatest ways to move forward is to realize our stagnancy. Racial and cultural recognition is greater than a subset of academic research. It is a lifestyle that demands awareness, teachability, and training – it is a choice to surround yourself in the unknown in order to know your own weaknesses and strengths.



[1]Fareed Zakaria, “CNN Zakaria Interview with Erin Meyer: The Culture Map,” www.youtube.com, September 3, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=329&v=kL5kBf5uwvA.

[2]Erin Meyer, The Culture Map: Breaking through the Invisible Boundaries of Global Business (New York: PublicAffairs, 2014), 23.

[3]Ibid., 25.

[4]Ibid., 103.

[5]Ibid., 16.

[6]Ibid., 252.

[7]“Analytics Tools,” marketingplatform.google.com, accessed January 31, 2019, https://marketingplatform.google.com/about/analytics/.

[8]“#1 Instagram Scheduler and Social Media Platform: Visually Plan and Schedule Instagram Posts,” later.com, accessed January 31, 2019, https://later.com.

[9]“Survey Monkey: The World’s Most Popular Free Online Survey Tool,” www.surveymonkey.com, accessed January 31, 2019, https://www.surveymonkey.com.


About the Author

Colleen Batchelder

I speak at conferences, churches, companies and colleges on intergenerational communication, marketing, branding your vision and living authentically in a ‘filtered’ world. My talks are customized to venue needs and audience interests. My passion is to speak with organizations and bridge the intergenerational gap. I consult with companies, individuals, churches and nonprofit organizations and help them create teams that function from a place of communication that bridges the generational gap. I’m also the Founder and President of LOUD Summit – a young adult organization that presents workshops, seminars and summits that encourage, empower and equip millennials to live out their destiny and walk in their purpose. When I’m not studying for my DMin in Leadership and Global Perspectives at Portland Seminary, you can find me enjoying a nice Chai Latte, exploring NYC or traveling to a new and exotic destination.

11 responses to “Stop Gentrifying Culture in the Name of Jesus”

  1. Jay Forseth says:


    I am so clueless, I had to look up the meaning of gentrification–


    I really appreciated your recommendation of Google Analytics. That is amazing! How did I not know that? Oh yeah, I didn’t even know what gentrifying was…I am not half as smart as you. Well done, Colleen.

    • Thank you for your kindness, but you are just as smart! After all, the elite eights are the best!

      It’s interesting to see how gentrification is eradicating culture as well as buildings. Harlem was always known to be the hub of blues music and Spanish cuisine; however, due to gentrification, thousands have been displaced geographically and culturally. Instead of trying to create an integrated society within the streets of Harlem, they created a schism of race, culture, language and socioeconomic status. People lost their identity because they lost their culture.

      How has culture been eradicated where you live? I find that many churches are trying to find ways to bring in more young people, but in doing so, they are removing the culture of the past. How have you been able to create Christian organizations that are intercultural and intergenerational within your denomination? Do you find that one culture takes over another?

      • Jay Forseth says:

        Honestly, that is our problem in our denomination. We are traditionally rural in a day and age of urbanization. We are VERY white, which entirely represents our local cultures (93% caucasian in our settings). And to be honest, we are in areas where a “brain drain” has occurred of young people going off to college and not returning home.

        Some day I will share with you my experiences of Harlem!

  2. M Webb says:

    M. Webb
    Excellent introduction and comments on influential leadership. Your time at the Pastor’s Prayer Summit sounds awesome! What a great opportunity to live out what Meyer and Livermore have shared about cross-cultural engagements.
    Thanks for sharing about Google Analytics and Later.com, I will check them out. I have used surveymonkey in both mission, business, and cross-cultural contexts and it is a powerful tool for sure.
    I commend you for your insights and transparency to share your gut feelings about these matters. I agree, “choice” is key, and I believe obedience and faith are good guides that drive our choices.
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

    • Thanks so much, Mike!

      It was an amazing experience! It was incredible to read the text for this week and see it in action through the summit. Each meal time was like visiting a different country. You’ll have to attend next year!

      Google Analytics and Later.com are great tools! As part of my resolution, I evaluate LOUD’s analytics and work to fill up the whole map. My goal is to see LOUD influencing the world and presenting engaging material that meets a globalized audience. It hasn’t been easy, but I look forward to seeing every state and every country covered in engagement.

      I found Meyer’s text highly applicable and relevant in terms of understanding one’s neighbor. I also thought it was interesting how she described the purpose of cultural intelligence. She wrote, “As with so many challenges related to cross-cultural collaboration, awareness, and open communication go a long way toward defusing conflict” (Meyer, 161). What ways have you seen cultural intelligence diffuse conflict? In your travels around the world, what cultural traits have you incorporated in your own way of life? How has cultural interaction influenced your identity?

  3. Dan Kreiss says:


    You are correct, the NA church is still coming to terms with cultural diversity and understanding. I find this incredibly frustrating at times, particularly in my region of the country which remains largely monocultural. I’m glad to hear that in other parts of the country Christians from across the cultural spectrum can get together and hod some practice runs for eternity.

    • Thanks, Dan!

      I can’t even imagine living in a monoculture. I will say, that diversity has definitely come at a high cost. Many churches that are solely Caucasian will not partner with LOUD because we will place men and women of all races on our platform. They don’t realize that in order to reach this generation, you have to have a culturally diversified speaker’s panel and leadership team. What has been the greatest frustration of ministering in a monocultural area?

  4. Trisha Welstad says:


    Thanks for sharing your story of multicultural ministry from this week. I am so glad for your presence in that space!

    Also, thanks for sharing the links for Google Analytics, later.com, and survey monkey. I had never considered them in this aspect and had not heard of later.com. These will be helpful in my research and ministry.

    • Thanks, Trisha!

      It was such a blessing to partner with so many open-minded and receptive pastors from around the world. I look forward to hearing about your cross-cultural event. I know that you’ll be blessed and be a blessing.

      Later.com is incredible! They offer a nonprofit discount as well. I favor this tool even more than the others because it not only gives you the analytics of Instagram but provides you with the top hashtags that work for your audience. It gives you the facts and then gives you the tools to improve your intercultural reach.

  5. Jean Ollis says:

    Hi Colleen! You caught my attention with this statement – for many of us in the North American church, diversity is still a system of hierarchy – this is preaching TRUTH. But I believe it goes further than church, systemically this level of oppression exists in laws, schools, media, etc. You are fortunate to live in a culturally diverse region. How do you see yourself applying your heart for diversity in different contexts? Do you see this as your mission field?

  6. Shawn Hart says:

    Colleen, I had an interesting interaction in Jamaica on my last trip. One of the reason the church there is hoping for our church to “partner” with them is due to the acceptability of the American culture as it intermingles with their Jamaican culture. However, while I was there, we were told of one of the Christian groups that had attempted to gain a foothold there that the people seemed to resent almost immediately (I will refrain from sharing the group’s name). The reason for the conflict was that they seemed to make no effort to actually intermingle with the Jamaica culture, but rather instead, sought to force their American culture entirely on the people. The church’s effort is a brick wall almost entirely.

    If we are not going to take the time to interact and learn; then I believe it really is a waste of time in trying.

    Good job! Great to hear you enjoyed your meeting; I know you were looking forward to that.

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