Review: Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures

28268526Ministry requires contextualization and cultural awareness at almost every turn. If these requirements are not encountered with intentionality and understanding, then the effectiveness of such opportunities could be ineffective or even harmful to the ministry of the gospel. It is here that Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures: Biblical Foundations and Practical Essentials by Jayson Georges and Mark D. Baker offers readers a wonderful encounter with honor-shame cultures—a cultural context that is largely unfamiliar to the Westerner, but deeply rooted in approximately 80% of the world’s population (p. 19).

Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures is divided into three major sections: (1) cultural anthropology, (2) biblical theology, and (3) practical ministry. In section one, Georges and Baker offer the reader an introduction to the global phenomenon of honor-shame cultures. It is here that the reader is exposed (maybe even for the first time) to both the heartbeat and expression of honor-shame cultures, and given a cultural awareness of the with which to gauge the conversation. Georges and Baker provide a number of useful and practical stories to clarify both, and the reader encounters a number of helpful charts and diagrams that work to bring the information into sharper focus.

In section two, Georges and Baker bring the reader into the biblical world and illuminate the pervasive existence of honor-shame culture from Genesis onward. This section is brief and clearly presented. It would have been nice to see the biblical theology section reach further into the various corners of honor-shame in the New Testament context, but Georges and Baker have provided a good starting point that establishes their purpose and prepares the reader for the pages that follow.

In section three, Georges and Baker offer practical guidance for ministering in honor-shame cultures. This section comprises a little over half of the book and will likely be the primary reason for most readers having it on their shelves, especially for those who are familiar with the honor-shame framework and are looking for practical assistance on some of the most important honor-shame issues. The book closes with three useful appendixes, including (1) key Scriptures on honor-shame, (2) biblical stories addressing honor-shame, and (3) a brief list of recommended resources to further explore honor-shame cultures biblically, theologically, and ministerially

Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures is both informative and engaging. There were areas where I thought the authors could have explored more fully (especially within the second section), but many of those areas can be further discovered within the resources recommended in the third appendix. The importance of this book is recognizable from the first few pages, and Georges and Baker have done an excellent job guiding the reader to such understanding before ushering them into the practical investigation that closes the book. If this had not been the case, I am not sure the book would have worked as magnificently as it did. This is a book that deserves much attention and application—if not for the purpose of foreign missions, then certainly for the benefit of the contextualization and understanding that ministry in general requires. It comes highly recommended!!

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