To help you better understand different
cultural values, following are brief descriptions of several cultures most commonly found
in America. The cultural values described here should in no way put people in a box or
insinuate that every person of a particular culture is the same. Rather these are
generalities made to give insights on various people groups and their cultures.
Understanding the African-American Culture
1. How African-Americans Express
- Verbal, direct
- Strong non-verbal language
2. Historical Characteristics of the
- Establishment of social networks and/or
- Strong biblical heritage
- Family responsibility and leadership
- Excellence in human endeavor
- Family unit of love despite hardships or
slavery, segregation and poverty
- Creative, productive, resourceful and diligent
3. Current Status
- Different levels economically
- Extended family (home may include
grandparents, uncles, aunts, etc.)
- Very private
- Family Heritage
- Dignity (dont like to be embarrassed or
looked down upon)
- Black community
- Church, God and family
- Strong relationships
5. Things to Keep in Mind when
Ministering to African-Americans
- The African-American pastor is usually
considered the central religious leader in the black community. Religious activity is
usually limited to the church. When in doubt, students will defer to the church for
spiritual growth. Students who may have never become official members of a church may
demonstrate loyalty to a specific congregation because a parent, grandparent or other
family member is there.
- Many students who excel in athletics view it
as an opportunity to make it into college or gain financial success. For that reason,
especially for African-American males, there can be a disproportionate focus on sports
over or equal to academics.
- Much like a large percentage of U.S. society,
African-American homes are often headed by women and single parents.
- Hip Hop and R&B are the most popular forms
- African-American students have a very strong
desire to do ministry in their local community.
- The urban and suburban African-American
student can sometimes be vastly different in culture. Many of the rules that apply to the
urban kid will not apply in suburbia. Economic status she chooses to function in money or
the lack of it will always pre-determine an urban or inner city students involvement
in any activity.
- African-American teens are drawn to
environments where they feel like theyre represented. These students will watch
television shows or attend events where they can see others in situations like theirs.
They feel reluctant to place themselves in an environment where they are consistently the
- Food, music and fellowship are central to
African-American events and festivities. Most black Christians are accustomed to an
expressive, fun, and highly relational environment where they can worship God.
- African-American communities tend to be
suspicious of outside and predominately white groups. Teens will likely have been
influenced by their parents or grandparents thinking about whites and will sometimes
use that to decide how they will relate to other whites. Students want relationships with
teens of other races but need to know that they are genuine, sincere and long lasting.
- Hopelessness is becoming more and more
prevalent amongst African-American teens. The level of despair has manifested itself in
increased teen violence, drug use and teen pregnancy. It can be seen and heard through
movies, television and music in the black community. For this reason, it is becoming
necessary to reach teens at the youngest possible age.
Understanding the Asian-American Culture
Following is an attempt to make general
observations (similarities and differences) of the mainstream of each the Asian and
1. Similarities of Asians and Americans
- Emphasis on education to get ahead
- Strong work ethic
- Future oriented
- Highly ethnocentric (our way is the best way)
- Importance of children
2. Asian vs. American Culture
- Emphasizes harmony between individuals (wants
everyone to get along)
- Respect for authority (i.e. parents,
- Tradition (hold on to the old)
- Respect of elders (they value older people)
- "Dont show off!"
- Minimize disagreement
- "Dont show your feelings."
- Extended family (includes grandparents,
uncles, aunts, etc.)
- Parents often live with children when older
- "Dont rock the boat."
- Individual oriented
- Questions Authority; Values individuality
- Change (try something new!)
- Americans value young people more
- "Were Number One!"
- Values differences
- "Let it all hang out!"
- Nuclear Family (mom, dad, brothers and sisters
- Children are equal to each other
- Parents live separately from children when
3. Facts About the Asian-American
- Among Asians, it is often viewed as prideful
to volunteer for ministry responsibilities whereas Whites feel much more comfortable with
it. In Japan, there is the saying, "The nail that sticks out gets pounded down."
It is more important to be alike than different.
- Most Asian Americans feel a great pressure to
succeed academically; when other kids are playing sports in junior high, Asian kids will
often be studying math/science. Advanced education is a high priority. Asian American high
school students tend to be driven and focused. They are very selective about what they are
involved in and will tend to choose things that will help them succeed academically or
their future career. Most often, parents have the final say in what they will study in
- Asian American students have the highest SAT
scores of any group of students on campus.
- The term Asian American is much more difficult
to define then African American. With Asian Americans, there are at least fourteen
different Asian groups identified as Asian American by the census bureau: Chinese,
Japanese, Korean, Vietnamese, Laotian, Thai, Filipino, Malaysian, etc.
- Some Asian American students only hang out
with White students while others only associate with Chinese, Koreans, Vietnamese, etc.
and want nothing to do with any other cultures.
- When sharing Christ, it is critical to build a
relationship first. Second, many Asian Americans come from Buddhist background. It is
important to try to be respectful of his/her background, and to communicate biblical truth
in a sensitive, caring, and direct way.
- Most Asian Americans value a very close
family. It is very typical to have grandparents living with the family. Students tend to
prioritize family over any other activity.
- Many Asian Americans feel uncomfortable in
White traditional Christian meetings. It is very typical to have students attend one time
and never come back again. Creating an environment where they are comfortable (i.e., with
other Asians: Koreans with Koreans, Chinese with Chinese, etc.) or focusing on a topic
that is very important (leadership, education, etc.) could draw more Asian students.
- Asian American parents expect their children
to participate in making the family successful. Many teens will have after school jobs in
their familys business. Any other time is expected to be used for studying or
practicing or any other activity to help them advance.
Understanding the Hispanic Culture
Facts About the Hispanic Student and
- The Spanish language is important in the
Hispanic community. It is a complement to them when others attempt to use it to them.
- The overwhelming majority of Hispanics come
from conservative religious backgrounds. Therefore, they are spiritually prepared, ready
to hear the gospel message.
- Hispanics are known for loving the family,
food, fellowship, relationships, and Fun Fiesta. You can use these different cultural
values to reach the Hispanic student. Having a meal with a Hispanic student is a great way
to build a relationship. Next, ask about their family and how you can pray for their
- Hispanics make major life decisions based on a
relationship of trust. Having any kind of positive influence on the Hispanic high school
student means you have to start by building a relationship.
- Family is very important to Hispanic students.
When forced to choose between family and ministry, they will almost always choose family.
Love of family is a positive characteristic about the Hispanic culture and being welcomed
into their celebrations and events is considered an honor and a tremendous learning
opportunity for those who want to minister to them.
Resources/Campus Crusade for Christ ©2000 Call 1.407.826.2000