Eliminating Hurdles: Toward Recognizing How Culture and Theology Shape Ministry Opportunities for Norwegian Women

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This study seeks a greater understanding of theological and cultural factors that shape ministry opportunities for Norwegian, female, international students (NFBS) studying at Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (BSSM) in Redding, California, an American theological institute of higher education. Grounded theory was used to analyze data while Hofstede’s Six Dimensions of Culture, and Cultural Theory was used as theoretical lenses to process findings. Research methods included semi-structured interviews, focus groups and participant observation at BSSM, and in-depth interviews and participant observation in Norway. Findings include the importance of western educators being aware of the negative impact that naïve, or hidden cultural bias has on teaching and expected student outcomes.

Data revealed that NFBS experience difficulty post-graduation for the following reasons: the development of a hybrid culture that is neither purely American nor purely Norwegian making them outsiders when attempting to reintegrate to their national culture, the lack of a method to aid international students in critically processing their American higher education for cultural appropriateness, the lack of opportunity to process theological differences between BSSM and their Norwegian context, the lack of a developed personal theology of the biblical role of women, the differing cultural and theological expectations and norms between America, Norway and BSSM as well as those that exist between the culture-at-large in Norway and the church in Norway, and finally, the impact of Janteloven and the gender equality movement in Norway.

Mentors, door-openers and servant-leadership were significant components impacting how women emerge into leadership in Norway. The lack of precedent literature available to assist international students prepare for reverse culture shock post- graduation was identified. A basic missiology and world view course is suggested for BSSM faculty and students to remedy monocultural understanding, a peer-led group for international students is suggested as a format in which they can, with the aid of process questions, assess their American education for cultural appropriateness, and the creation of a small guide which outlines BSSM theology of the biblical role of women, along with references for further study of both egalitarian and complementarian points of view, are suggested.

Mentor: Elizabeth L. Glanville, PhD

Degree Name

Doctor of Intercultural Studies (DIS)

First Advisor

Glanville, Elizabeth L.

Document Type



Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry (Redding, Calif.); Christian women; Norway; Multicultural education; Cross-cultural orientation; Reverse culture shock


Missions and World Christianity


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