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Ministering in Patronage Cultures
Patronage governs many relationships in Majority World cultures. But regrettably, Western theologians and missionaries rarely notice this prominent cultural reality. Patronage—a reciprocal relationship between social unequals—is a central part of global cultures and the biblical story of God's mission.
Misunderstanding patronage creates problems not only for Westerners ministering in other cultures, but also for contemporary people reading the Bible. If we ignore the concepts of patronage in biblical cultures, we will misinterpret Yahweh's relationship with Israel and miss some of the meaning in Jesus' parables and Paul's letters. Understanding patronage will illuminate theological concepts such as faith, grace, and salvation.
Jayson Georges, coauthor of Ministering in Honor-Shame Cultures, now brings his ministry experience and biblical insights to bear on the topic of patronage. With sections on cultural issues, biblical models, theological concepts, and missional implications, this resource will serve not only ministry practitioners but also anyone who studies Scripture and worships God.
"Gaining a better understanding of patronage is reason enough to read this book. But it offers so much more than tips on how to better navigate patron-client relationships. Jayson Georges uses cultural insights to illuminate biblical texts and enrich theological understandings. Then, looking at patron-client relationships through a biblical lens Georges challenges us to practice transformed patronage. Read it and grow in knowledge of God and gain tools for God's mission."
"Few subjects are as significant yet overlooked as patronage is. Many Westerners are suspicious of patronage, assuming it leads only to corruption. In Ministering in Patronage Cultures, Jayson Georges removes the cloud of confusion that surrounds the topic. With characteristic clarity, Georges sheds light on the ways that patronage influences culture, shapes biblical theology, and should transform our ministries. I highly recommend Ministering in Patronage Cultures. No book like this one exists."
"In crosscultural ministry, patronage is often the elephant in the room. If you are ministering to people who are not Caucasian Euro-Americans, then it is highly likely you are working with collectivists; yet, many of us are individualists. For collectivists, patronage is the air they breathe, the water they swim in. It is what goes without being said. Abandon any foolish notion of avoiding patronage. As individualists, we often don't even see patronage networks around us. Worse, our cultural prejudices can cause us to view patronage with contempt, as something to be ignored or dismissed as sin. Yet when we do, we are neglecting a wonderful cultural tool, one that Jesus and Paul often used. As Georges notes, patronage is biblical. Come along with Jayson Georges as he teaches us how patronage, like all aspects of culture, may be warped by sin but can and should be redeemed for kingdom work. I enthusiastically commend this book to anyone wanting to serve those who come from the Majority World. While we may be blind to the patronage elephant in the room, it seems painfully evident to them. We overlook it at our own peril. Georges is an experienced and skilled guide, patiently tutoring us individualists on how to minister in a collectivist world."
"With careful documentation from ancient writing, contemporary scholarship, and his own research, Jayson Georges reveals how the patronage system prevailed as the cultural tapestry in which biblical authors lived and out of which they wrote. Jayson takes the reader through multiple Old and New Testament passages revealing the patronage themes lodged within the words, the people, and in the very situations. His examples reveal the complexity of patronage, but readers experience clarity and simplicity throughout. Jayson's explanations of core doctrines (e.g., sin, salvation, atonement, love) are seen through the patron-client framework. The case studies in the closing chapters provide helpful insights for doing ministry in patronage cultures. I highly recommend Jayson's book as a worthy contribution to expand our understanding of the Scripture."
"Jayson Georges has established himself as an important interdisciplinary and crosscultural thinker. In this new book, he draws upon classical studies, biblical studies, modern cultural anthropology, Christian theology, and his own (and others') first-hand missionary experience, offering a comprehensive introduction to patronage in ancient and modern contexts and its implications for biblical theology and missionary practice. He does this in engagingly accessible and clear prose—and with winsome vulnerability as he recounts his own journey. This is an important contribution to articulating a global gospel and formulating effective strategies for serving and partnering with the global Christian community."
"If you see the world and the Gospel as I do, through the lens of an egalitarian, democratic, individualistic worldview, and you desire to communicate crossculturally to people from the Majority World, then Jayson Georges is a voice you must hear. Ministering in Patronage Cultures will expand your understanding of the Scriptures, intensify your crosscultural understanding, and enlarge your capacity to worship responsively as a redeemed servant of Jesus Christ."
"Whether you're serving in a crosscultural location or studying the Scripture, Jayson Georges's Ministering in Patronage Cultures will transform your understanding of patronage. Because patron-client relationships dominate the majority of the world's population, Georges's book fills a critical gap of knowledge. Furthermore, most of the people in the Bible lived under this model of authority and relationship, hence a grasp of patronage is necessary for proper biblical hermeneutics. Extensive research and references fill every chapter along with stories and experiences to illustrate principles discussed. Ministering in Patronage Cultures guides, and ultimately redeems, the patron-client orientation into a collaborative, interdependent, and biblical model of patronage. I highly recommend adding this resource to your bookshelf!"
"The African world, like the Middle Eastern and Asian contexts from which Jayson writes, is fraught with major social paradoxes. People often ask, Why is this country so corrupt if there are so many Christians? Intractable contradictions such as corruption, ethnocentrism, clientelism, and related social pathologies are often cited to condescend Christian witness. While Jayson neither essentializes (stereotypes) nor flattens out (generalizes) these issues any more than African and Asian Christians condone them, cultivating an understanding of the causations and correlations between such problems and patronage reduces the particular stigmas often ascribed to whole societies. As Christian ministers, if we can understand collocations and convergences of cultural tendencies that we find deeply distressing, we are better placed to discern redemptive opportunities to engage in transformative action. Jayson is leading us toward that redemptive discernment."
"Jayson Georges brings out the nuances of patronage in an articulate manner. An eloquent storyteller, Jayson draws out principles of applying patronage in ministry with expert insight, relevant examples, and appropriate biblical proofs. Having ministered among Muslims for twenty-four years and realizing that understanding patronage is vital to ministering among honor-shame cultures, I highly recommend this book for everyone who is currently or even planning to minister, live, or do business in or with patronage cultures."
Introduction: The Problems of Patronage
Part I: Cultural Issues
Chapter 1: The Meaning of Patronage
Chapter 2: Expressions of Patronage
Chapter 3: Misperceptions of Patronage
Part II: Biblical Models
Chapter 4: Yahweh and Israel
Chapter 5: Jesus and the Kingdom
Chapter 6: Paul and the Church
Part III: Theological Concepts
Chapter 7: God as Patron
Chapter 8: Sin as Ingratitude
Chapter 9: Salvation as Patronage
Part IV: Missional Implications
Chapter 10: Engaging Patronage
Chapter 11: Transforming Relationships
Chapter 12: Reframing the Christian Life
Appendix 1: Further Resources
Appendix 2: Discussion and Reflection Questions