Cross-Cultural Apologizing: Considering Form and Function

In evangelism, church planting, and community development, missionaries are bound to accidentally hurt feelings and offend some people. Restoring relationships often requires apologizing. Outsiders often fail with their apologies by using forms from their home culture that don’t work in the target culture. They mistakenly assume that because the function of apology is universal, the forms are also universal. Using culturally inappropriate forms for apology undermines reconciliation, intensifies resentment, and prolongs hostility.

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