Blog EntriesCross-cultural

5 Resources on Honor and Shame


In many ways our worldview can be thought of as our operating system—the way in which we process and organize information and make sense of the world. For westerners, our worldview is built on legal frameworks such as guilt and innocence; however, most non-western cultures process the world based on honor and shame.

This, of course, includes China; this means that anyone seeking to engage Chinese with the gospel, or to partner with local believers and churches, needs a basic understanding of honor and shame. Here are five resources to help you get started:

  1. Probably the best “one-stop-shop” for all things related to honor and shame issues is the website honorshame.com. This site “offers practical tools and training for Christians ministering in honor-shame contexts. Though honor-shame is the primary OS for 80% of the world, they remain significant blind spots in Western culture, theology, and missiology.”
  2. The January 2015 edition of Missions Frontiers, titled ”The Power of Honor” takes a deep dive, offering 15 different articles on the topic.
  3. Mission One has an excellent paper titled “Honor and Shame in Cross-cultural Relationships” that is especially helpful for those seeking to form partnerships with individuals or groups in honor/shame cultures.
  4. Saving God’s Face: A Chinese Contextualization of Salvation through Honor and Shame, by Jackson Wu. In this book, Wu tries to show what honoring and praising God means to the Chinese.
  5. Finally, if you want to find out your own cultural “operating system” and how it may clash with those of other cultures, you can take The Culture Test online for free. It will, as they say, help you “anticipate the cultural collision.”
Image credit: by Matt Ming, via Flickr.
Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman

Joann Pittman is senior vice president of ChinaSource and editor of ZGBriefs. Prior to joining ChinaSource, Joann spent 28 years working in China, as an English teacher, language student, program director, and cross-cultural trainer for organizations and businesses engaged in China. She has also taught Chinese at the University... View Full Bio