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How does the Traverse Cross-Cultural Ministry Apprenticeship work?

Traverse works on three key principles which are that cross-cultural ministry is more...


Cross-cultural ministry is more CAUGHT THAN TAUGHT

Ministry skills are learnt far more effectively when they are “caught” through the modelling of those skills by an experienced gospel worker.  Jesus spent three years living and doing ministry with his disciples.  In Luke 9, Jesus sends out his twelve disciples on a mission giving ‘them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases’ and ‘to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick’ (Luke 9:1-2). But Jesus did not send them out before his disciples had seen him teach, heal and drive out impure spirits and demons (Luke 6:17-19; 8:26-39). The apostle Paul also modelled the Christian life, which would no doubt have included ministry and mission skills, as an example for Christians to follow (1 Corinthians 4:16-17, 11:1; Philippians 3:17, 4:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:7-9).


This principle is not denying the importance of the content of the training. Paul exhorts Timothy to keep a close watch on both himself and ‘the teaching’ (1 Tim 4:16). Rather, this principle is emphasising the importance in Traverse of the relationship between the mission worker and their apprentice. Mission workers are a vital role model of Christian living and mission practice for apprentices and so Traverse is a life-to-life apprenticeship. Given the vital role mission practitioners have in modelling cross-cultural ministry and mission practice, it is essential that they have past experience in cross-cultural ministry and are currently engaged in cross-cultural mission work.


Cross-cultural ministry is more about PEOPLE THAN PROGRAMS

Ministry is about people. A number of times in the gospels, Jesus is interrupted by someone in need on his way to do something else. Invariably though, Jesus stops to meet their needs. For example, in Luke 9, after the twelve returned from the mission Jesus sent them on,  Jesus wanted to withdraw with his disciples but a crowd followed him. Instead of withdrawing, Jesus ‘welcomed them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who needed healing’ (Luke 9:10-11), after which he fed them (Luke 9:12-17). Jesus’ priority in ministry is people and meeting their needs.  This is in contrast to the Pharisees who were more concerned with ‘the program’ of keeping the law rather than the welfare of people (Matt 23:23-24). 


This principle is not denying the importance of having a program, but rather highlighting the priority of serving people and their needs. Traverse is therefore, designed to maximise the time apprentices spend with people. The priority of people over the program includes the apprentice as well. In other words, Traverse is a learner-centred program. By ‘learner-centred’ we mean that Traverse is intended to be tailored to the specific needs of individual apprentice by taking into account their previous experience and the competencies needing further development.


Being learner-centred also means that Traverse is holistic in that it addresses the needs of the whole person. In Christian mission these needs are a persons knowledge of God (knowing), their experience of God (being) and, their actions as God’s workers (doing). In regards to an apprentice’s action in cross-cultural mission, Traverse is specifically designed to train people to effectively engage with other cultures and relate to people of those cultures. The most effective way to train people in ‘knowing’, ‘being’ and ‘doing’ is to integrate them together into the various training activities.  In other words, Traverse provides in-mission training that allows apprentices to learn everything they need to be an effective cross-cultural worker while on the job. This requires Traverse to be run in a genuine cross-cultural ministry context.


Cross-cultural ministry is more about being A LEARNER THAN AN EXPERT

In order to learn we need to first listen before speaking. There is no better thing than to sit and listen to Jesus (Lk 10:42).  As we come to listen and learn from him we’re promised rest for our souls (Matt 11:29).  After we receive his mercy and come to faith in him, we’re to continue learning though the renewing of our minds (Rom 12:2). In fact, to be a 'disciple' of Jesus is literally to be a 'learner'. Even in mission as we seek to make disciples, we remain learners.  Before speaking to the Greeks in Athens, the apostle Paul took a tour of the city where he distressingly learnt that the city was full of idols (Acts 17:16). What Paul learnt helped him to contextualise the gospel message that he later spoke at the Areopagus. 


This principle is not to deny the need to grow in our expertise in Christian ministry and mission and not verbally proclaim the gospel. The purpose of Jesus coming was to preach the good news of the kingdom of God (Lk 4:43). The apostles preached the gospel throughout the known world and commanded the next generation to do the same (2 Tim 4:2).  However, if apprentices are going to effectively engage with other cultures and relate to people in those cultures they need to be humble life-long learners. Being a learner in cross-cultural ministry and mission work is more than simply learning ‘about’ others but also ‘from’ others and, ‘with’ others. Apprentices who seek to preach from out of this humble, life long learning posture will communicate to people of other cultures far more effectively. What this means is that Traverse is to be undertaken as part of a learning community, ideally a multicultural one, where apprentices can learn to learn from, and reflect upon, diverse opinions and mission practices.

Photo by Mathias P.R. Reding from Pexels

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