Six Postures Article: Introduction and "Our Story"

In the summer of 2011, an article was released by three of our Caucasian colleagues who have wrestled with what it means to minister cross-culturally.  It was called “Five Majority Culture Postures Towards Ethnic Minority Ministry.”  My wife and I (Jennifer and Adrian Pei) have both been deeply transformed by our relationships with these friends, who have learned our stories and advocated for ethnic ministries, in a way that models genuine partnership.

While we were glad to see the breadth and extent of the impact of this article, we also knew there was a second piece that needed to be written.  As ethnic minority leaders, we cannot lead with authenticity and maturity, if we do not understand how we relate to the majority culture, and take responsibility for it.

This fall, we have collaborated with Destino (Latino ministry), Nations (Native American ministry) and Impact (African American ministry) to write an article called, “Six Postures of Ethnic Minority Culture Towards Majority Culture.”  We hope it provides language and categories to further discussion about these significant topics.  We hope you take the time to read and discuss it with your teams, families, and churches or organizations.

You can find the article here, if you want to read in its entirety, or share it with others. 

But to allow for easier reading and interaction, we have decided to break up the article into posts as well on this blog.  We have posted a question that you can engage at the end of each post.  No matter where you are on your journey, we hope you will feel inspired to share your own thoughts and stories here!

“Six Postures Of Ethnic Minority Culture Towards Majority Culture”

By Adrian & Jennifer Pei, Destino Kristy, Donnie & Renee Begay (with personal stories by Destino, Epic, Impact, and Nations staff)

When you hear the term “majority culture,” what is the first thing that comes to mind?

What thoughts or feelings arise within you?  What images or memories of the past resurface?

The history of ethnic minorities in North America is filled with pain, from both the reality of living on the margins of society as immigrants, and the wounds of injustice from those in power. This article is written by five members of ethnic minority cultures who have wrestled with how to minister and lead through that pain in healthy ways.

Adrian and Jennifer minister with Epic Movement (Asian American ministry), Kristy with Destino Movement (Latino or Hispanic American ministry), and Donnie and Renee with Nations Movement (Native American ministry) — which are all ethnic ministries in a predominantly Caucasian ministry organization, Cru Global (formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ).

A few months ago, some of our Caucasian colleagues released an article called “Five Majority Culture Postures Towards Ethnic Minority Ministry.” It explained a “posture” as an approach involving not only the mind, but also the heart and attitude. Five postures were outlined: (1) Unfamiliar and Unaware, (2) Duty or Obligation, (3) Charity, (4) Unity as Togetherness, and (5) Advocacy in Partnership.

Whether we know it or not, each member of an ethnic minority culture also has a posture towards the majority culture. Likewise, this influences what we value, how we make decisions, and how we treat others. As we have served in our ethnic minority contexts for the past few years, we have noticed a lack of awareness and dialogue about this.

Much attention and energy has been focused on how we have been treated. But in this process, we have often failed to recognize the power and responsibility that God has entrusted to us, as His children. In waiting for others to change, or initiate with us, we have sometimes missed what God wants to do in our hearts and lives. Whether we live on the margins or in positions of power, we all play a part in God’s story. He calls us all to examine our postures, as we act and lead.

As we have ministered, we have consistently experienced and identified six postures towards the majority culture. They are: (1) Unaware, (2) Angry and Wounded, (3) Silent and Resigned, (4) Duty and Pleasing, (5) Unity as Assimilation, and (6) Equal and Empowered Partnership.

As you read, you may not identify with one over another. Perhaps aspects of two or three will best represent your heart and attitude towards the majority culture. Our hope is that you pay attention to what this surfaces within you and make an honest assessment of your own posture.

We pray that you’ll take the time to reflect on what God might be encouraging you to consider in your own development and leadership.

• Postures are not linear, but complex. One might experience many, even within the same experience, over the course of a lifetime.
• This article is not intended as a condemnation of any of the postures. All of the authors have experienced them, and continue to navigate them by God’s grace.
• We don’t claim to represent the entire ethnic minority experience. We hope this article provides a platform for insights and stories that are missing, to add to an ongoing dialogue and narrative.

For discussion (please post in the “Comments” below):

  • Whether you are a member of an ethnic minority culture or the majority culture, what motivates you to read this article and why?
  • When you consider your own personal growth and leadership, where do you see a need to learn and grow in your understanding of these topics?