Local Church Visitation Policy
Students can choose to research and design their own cross-cultural experience, which can fulfill the cross-cultural requirement if the experience is designed to study a significantly different culture; it has to be prepared for and intentionally undertaken with an academic goal in mind. Students can complete this requirement by becoming an active participant in a local church or community that differs significantly from their own culture and language. The policy below includes guidelines for students who wish to conduct a domestic church study.
1. Duration – Students will spend a minimum of 45 hours of one-on-one interpersonal interaction during a 15-week semester or summer term. This model is based upon a typical one-credit-hour internship experience requirement. Participants may attend Sunday school, worship services, Bible studies, festivals, holiday celebrations, youth rallies, revivals, and/or special church functions or programs. Of the 45 hours, 6-8 are required to be activities outside of the church setting, such as visits to homes of church members.
2. Contact – The Global Perspectives Office does not supply a list of churches to choose from. It is up to students to research the area and determine a suitable choice. Prior to submitting their proposal, students must make contact with a member of the pastoral team to arrange details of the experience, including length of study, intentions, and goals. Students should ask about opportunities to participate, such as Sunday School, worship services, prayer meetings, young adult groups, and meals with host families.
3. Interaction – Students must interact with members of the congregation by engaging in conversation, observing body language, conducting interviews, and participating in various church activities, and then reflecting on their experiences. Students should not study the congregation from a distance, but instead they should inquire into the mission, goals, and vision of the church. Volunteering and service learning at the church is a good way to increase interaction. Specifically, students are encouraged to seek opportunities that enhance their major field of study and interests, such as teaching English, participating in the praise and worship team, and assisting with event planning or public relations.
4. Sensitivity – Students should review information from the GNST-200 Global Perspectives Seminar to guide them in appreciating, rather than criticizing, differences in worship style and culture. Students should conduct research on the faith tradition in question, paying careful attention to taboos related to dress, speech, posture, demeanor, interaction with older adults, roles of women and children, and the like, so as not to offend church members.
5. Learning – Students should evaluate how this culture is similar to or differs from their own, which should serve to enrich both your experience, as well as the experience of those with whom you interact. From their interactions with members of the church, students should learn features of the culture, including the role of the church in the area of cultural awareness, its diversity, and the roles of men, women, and children within the culture. In order to complete the learning objectives, students will complete a daily journal, conduct case studies, complete a culture worksheet, and compare the special socialization needs of their target culture with that of their own. Assignment details will be provided along with the syllabus when students are registered for the course.