A Pastor-friend down in Sydney has one of the most well thought out blogs I’ve read in ages – particularly in regards to understanding and critiquing Asian church culture. His latest blog post regarding ‘Power Distance Index‘ is insightful for those of us who are young and ministering within churches. Power Distance Index (PDI) is an indicator of the distance certain cultures prefer to have between leaders and subordinates (ie Teacher and Student). The higher the number the higher the distance and hence the greater respect a subordinate has for their leader. The lower the number the closer the distance and subordinates view leaders on a more even playing field. He writes:
Conflicts can happen when people who are born overseas (say Hong Kong with a PDI of 68, or Malaysia with a PDI of 104), starts to interact with those who are born or raised in Australia (with a PDI of 36). After a short while, those who are used to a higher PDI will find those who are used to a lower PDI to be disrespectful, disobedient, and to take an overy casual and relaxed approach to important things. However those who are used to a lower PDI will find those who are used to a higher PDI to be controlling, talking down to them, distant, making decisions for them without really consulting them.
Which culture is ultimately right? The biblical answer is neither. Our calling is to serve each other as Jesus, the greatest of all, served us. That means for overseas born (and generally older) generations to serve graciously and for younger generations to serve humbly.