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Teamwork Cross-Culturally

Christ-Centered Solutions for Leading Multinational Teams

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Following Sherwood Lingenfelter's successful books on ministering, teaching, and leading cross-culturally (with combined sales of over 200,000 copies), Teamwork Cross-Culturally casts a vision for how teams made up of diverse peoples can serve in unity as the body of Christ despite the complicated problems that arise. The book equips leaders to respond to divisive issues so that multinational mission teams can do the work of ministry in ways that honor God. Real-life examples of teamwork challenges from around the world demonstrate that "in Christ" responses are achievable.


1. What Are Wicked Problems and In-Christ Solutions? Sherwood G. Lingenfelter and Julie A. Green
Part 1: Biblical Foundations for In-Christ Responses
2. Paul's Wicked Problem and In-Christ Defense Sherwood G. Lingenfelter
3. Biblical Essentials for Teamwork in Christ Sherwood G. Lingenfelter
Part 2: "In the World" Deceptions and Disagreements
4. Uncertainty about Power and Authority Julie A. Green
5. The Deception of Elegant Solutions Julie A. Green
6. The Deception of Investment Returns Sherwood G. Lingenfelter
7. Can You Disagree? Can You Work Together? Sherwood G. Lingenfelter
8. Tensions between Personal Identity and Role Sherwood G. Lingenfelter
9. Balancing Convictions, Rights, and Loving Others in Christ Sherwood G. Lingenfelter
Part 3: Five Leaders, Four Journeys, Four Metaphors of Leadership for "Mission with" in Christ
10. Enabling In-Christ Participation Penny Bakewell
11. Equipping Multinational Ministry Teams Robert and Elizabeth McLean
12. Unequal Partners, Clumsy Compromise Matthew E. Crosland
13. Koinonia Teamwork in Central Africa Martins Atanda
Part 4: Leadership Challenge, Steadfast Hope
14. The Leadership Challenge of Wicked Problems Sherwood G. Lingenfelter
15. "Mission With"--Steadfast Hope Sherwood G. Lingenfelter


"Learning about intercultural communication is extremely important, but those who work with culturally diverse teams know that something deeper is also required. This book unpacks how and why leaning into the sacrificial message of the cross, abiding in Christ, and heeding Jesus's call for unity are so essential. These can be uncomfortable concepts for people who might prefer to focus on their rights, power, and privileges. Yet through a variety of passages, the authors illustrate biblical truths that create ways forward despite how complex and challenging diverse team situations can be!"

Mary T. Lederleitner, author of Cross-Cultural Partnerships and Women in God's Mission

"The rise of the global church has caused the mission workforce to be more culturally diverse than ever before. Therefore, mission teams are confronted with a new set of realities that test and challenge their prior assumptions about mission leadership. This book shares the honest stories of various vulnerable mission teams, the struggles they faced, and the lessons they learned in the process. Teamwork Cross-Culturally redefines mission, not just as a project to be accomplished but as a place where all involved need to learn and demonstrate a kingdom lifestyle through a radical pursuit of unity amid diversity. Thus, the book recenters discipleship as an ongoing need for those involved in missions. Anybody seeking to effectively and meaningfully participate in missions in the twenty-first century should read this book."

Michel Kenmogne, executive director, SIL International

"This book represents the culmination of almost three decades of cross-cultural missiology in the Lingenfelter oeuvre, at least with respect to confronting in depth the 'wicked' or in principle irresolvable problems of ministering, teaching, and leading across ethnic, national, and cultural divides. The resolution is derived, at least in part and appropriately so given Lingenfelter's mentoring commitments and capacities, from one of his doctoral-students-turned-colleague, Julie Green. Across these pages, Lingenfelter and Green help us discern and name such wicked problems and give perspective on their negotiation and amelioration achievable only 'in Christ,' which enables forward organizational movement without being threatened by what may happen when we otherwise avoid what cannot be simply managed."

Amos Yong, dean of the School of Mission and Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary

"Although written for cross-cultural team leaders and leaders of mission organizations, this remarkable book is helpful for all Christian leaders who are involved in multicultural churches or other organizations. It contains clarity about the problems we encounter with multicultural leadership, and it offers good, solid biblical and theological guidance in moving forward."

Scott W. Sunquist, president and professor of missiology, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary

"Teamwork Cross-Culturally is a much-needed look at the challenges and opportunities of multinational ministry teams in twenty-first-century missions. Lingenfelter and Green bring great experience and solid research to this work that builds on Jesus's metaphors of shepherd, servant, and steward as the goal for leaders in every cultural context. In-depth case studies present leaders who represent distinct styles of leadership and are working within different mission organizations in different regions of the world. But all are similarly tackling the complicated problems inherent in doing God's mission on multicultural teams. Lingenfelter and Green are unflinchingly honest about the temptation of leaders to use authority and power for control. Interpersonal relationship issues are painfully common. But the authors offer substantive hope by presenting strategies that can help teams forge unity of purpose, Jesus-like nurturing leadership, and members that value and learn from one another on the redemptive journey. For cross-cultural missionaries and leaders fulfilling God's mission in today's complex world, Teamwork Cross-Culturally is a valuable gift."

Beth Grant, missionary educator, Assemblies of God

"In this missiological gem, Lingenfelter and Green illustrate how not all problems are created equal. Some problems are wicked! Such problems are never fully solved and frequently resist management solutions and common sense. In fact, they demand clumsy solutions, something the authors demonstrate convincingly through their compelling wisdom. They conclude that there is no single pathway to resolve the inevitable challenges of people from diverse nations and cultures working together. But by using redeemed power and leaning into cultural models and frames with cruciform identity and Christocentric cultural intelligence, we can develop a godly clumsiness that can effectively engage these wicked problems. Teamwork Cross-Culturally is not a how-to manual but rather a resource that will enable global servants to see their challenges through new theoretical and theological lenses. Chock-full of compelling case studies and penetrating analysis, the authors commend a humble, contingent (as it relies on the continual renewing power of God's Spirit), contextual, and Christ-centered approach to the enduring challenges of culture and relationships. This book is a gift I wish upon every person and team that serves in contexts of cultural difference."

Christopher L. Flanders, professor of missions, Abilene Christian University

"This book is for ministry leaders who desire to live out Jesus's words, 'By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.' As an expression of love, Sherwood Lingenfelter has opened the door and held it wide open to allow us to learn from a diverse group of ministry leaders. This nuanced work will challenge our assumptions about what it means to pick up our cross as we shepherd multinational teams. Please read it, but don't read it all at once: read it, pray it, live it, and read it again--so that the world may know that we are truly his disciples."

Hyon Kim, global director of people development, SIM International

The Authors

  1. Sherwood G. Lingenfelter

    Sherwood G. Lingenfelter

    Sherwood G. Lingenfelter (PhD, University of Pittsburgh), a senior statesman among evangelical anthropologists, is provost emeritus and senior professor of anthropology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. He has written numerous books,...

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  2. Julie A. Green

    Julie A. Green

    Julie A. Green (d. 2020; PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) served with SIL for more than 35 years. Her area of expertise was multinational teams.

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