Date of Award


Degree Name

PhD Leadership Studies

Dissertation Committee

Fred Galloway, EdD, Chairperson; Robert Donmoyer, PhD, Member; Mark Fields, PhD, Member


Leadership, Missions, Missiology, Anthropology, Christian, Church, Cross-Cultural Competence, Cross-Cultural Competence Models, Cross-Cultural Competence Assessments, Cross-Cultural Effectiveness, Cognition, Decision Style, Indigenous Leaders, Leadership Development, Mixed-Methods, Quantitative, Qualitative, Linear and Binary Logistic Regression Analysis, Religious and Cross-Cultural Education


For the past two millennia, missionaries have crossed from one culture to another to bring the Christian message to all cultures of the world. Questions about the effectiveness of these mission efforts have been asked and researched by many; however, one key question remains unanswered: what personal attributes help a person to be more competent at crossing cultures as they interact with people from other cultures? Although cross-cultural competence has been studied in a variety of fields over the past 50 years, the models and assessments used have never been applied to Christian missionaries.

To address this deficiency, this parallel convergent mixed-methods study used a 169-question survey to first identify the levels of 11 attributes linked to cross-cultural competence among U.S. Association of Vineyard Churches missionaries, and then empirically explored the demographic and cognition style factors that might explain variation in the distribution of these attributes. Additionally, qualitative interviews were conducted with a handful of indigenous leaders who worked with the missionaries that participated in the survey. Results revealed that respondents scored highest in the attributes of: relationship orientation, interpersonal skills, culture interest, inquisitiveness, inclusiveness, and self-efficacy, while variation in the attributes were explained by the extent to which respondents were cross-culturally prepared, the number of mission trips taken, years of cross-cultural experience, amount of cross-cultural training, and personal fear of invalidity. These qualitative data supported several attributes, including inclusiveness, suspending judgement, stress resilience, and self-efficacy; however, it challenged the attributes of personal need for structure, optimism, and language proficiency. Importantly, these qualitative data also revealed that contextualization, an attribute not measured in the quantitative study, was important; therefore, scoring high in some cross-cultural competence attributes may not increase a person’s cross-cultural competence, based on the culture.

This study supports, as does the current research of cross-cultural competence models and assessments, the need to further refine these models and assessments to develop more effective ways to assess the cross-cultural competence of individuals. As this was the first study examining the cross-cultural competence of Christian missionaries, the results will inform cross-cultural training, development, and selection to improve competence and effectiveness.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access


Leadership Studies