Mutuality of Belonging: Toward Harmonizing Culturally Diverse Missions Groups


Jay Matenga

Publication Date



Over the past four decades, the global evangelical missions community has experienced increasing involvement by missionaries from new sending nations. The resulting cultural diversity has multiplied complexity in missions groups, often creating relationship tension. A major source of tension is located in the collectivism/individualism values dimension identified in social psychology. This study seeks to show how a mutuality of belonging can be developed in that tension, for the benefit of group members and groups as a whole. A transformative process is introduced as a means to harmonize relationships in missions groups, with both Collectivist and Individualist ways of knowing being affirmed and synchronized in counterpoint.

The research explicates relationship attributes drawn from life story narrative interviews with Māori Christians as a Collectivist perspective. Individualist relationship assumptions evident in the missions community are identified from an analysis of post-1990 missions literature that specifically references culturally diverse relationships in the missions community. These attributes and assumptions are then counterpointed to show how each can enhance the other in missions groups.

Outcomes of the transformational process include a growing intercultural hybridity in group members and a deeper mutuality or unity in missions groups, so that the world will know the Father lovingly sent the Son (John 17:20-23). Sensitive leadership is required to guide this process and leadership traits are highlighted.

The study concludes by showing how principles from the findings are applied to the Missions Interlink New Zealand community to affect change through the use of non-coercive leadership, coherent narratives and simple symbols to foster and reinforce a deeper sense of mutuality of belonging.

Mentor: R. Daniel Shaw

Degree Name

Doctor of Intercultural Studies (DIS)

First Advisor

Shaw, R. Daniel

Document Type



Missions Interlink (Auckland, N.Z.); Maori (New Zealand people); Collectivism; Individualism; Ethnopsychology; Multiculturalism


Missions and World Christianity


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