Case studies and scenarios of ministry situations

Looking for a case study to use with a class or group?

What would you do in this situation? What does it mean to put your faith into action?

Case studies -- examples of thorny situations -- are very effective in a problem-centered learning approach. Case studies help students practice applying principles and concepts in real situations. These real-life case studies and scenarios -- used by Howard Culbertson as classroom teaching/learning aids -- are available on this site:

Missionary case studies: The links with an asterisk (*) are situations in which a foreign missionary is directly involved.

Case studies: Aids for problem-centered learning

Seven steps to effective case study use

  1. Case studies involving short-term mission trip teams
  2. Battling racism in a congregation -- a church divided by prejudice
  3. *Breakup of a missionary team -- Tough times
  4. Ancestor veneration/worship
  5. Case studies involving Animism
  6. Case studies involving Buddhism
  7. Case studies involving Hinduism
  8. Case study involving Islam
  9. Case studies involving Shintoism
  10. Case studies involving Development / economic aid
  11. Conflict during the Lord's Supper -- cultural change polarizes a church and even tears a family apart
  12. *Kidnapped missionary: Should the ransom be paid?
  13. Male stripper -- attempted joke at a youth group sponsor's birthday party
  14. *Obi's death -- missionaries in New Guinea
  15. Pastor under attack -- dealing with hidden agendas
  16. *Peacemaker or patsy -- Missionaries caught in the middle of to tribal warfare in Papua New Guinea
  17. Sunday school class in decline
  18. They only knew my name -- An outsider tries to plug into a church
  19. To drink or not to drink -- a teetotaler in France finds himself in over his head
  20. Walking away: Witnessing/soul winning
  21. When trust erodes -- a congregation loses faith in their pastor
  22. Inappropriate touching -- Is it sexual assault or just funny improvisation during a skit?

Seven steps to case study discussion Several of the above cases also have specific study guides linked to them.

Brief scenarios or examples with less description than a typical case study

  1. Cultural anthropology scenarios: Gulliver's travels and ethnography in a McDonald's restaurant
  2. Theology of missions scenarios: Are the heathen really lost?
  3. Witnessing scenarios: How would you respond?
  4. Using case studies as a learning tool

What's the best way to use a case study?

Case study exploration guide

Case studies are effective educational tools whose use was pioneered by Harvard University's business school. The best case studies are not made-up, one-upon-a-time stories. Rather, even though names and places may have been changed, these are descriptions of real situations.

For Christian workers heading into situations where they will be cultural outsiders, discussions of case studies can stimulate and hone critical thinking skills for situations where they will be carrying "foreigner" baggage.

Want to know how to process a case study? Follow these seven steps to reflect on and profitably discuss case studies.

How to use a case study

Seven steps to transforming a case study into a learning experience

  1. Read the entire case study narrative.
  2. Understand the flow of events
  3. Determine from whose perspective the events are described.
  4. Formulate a clear statement of the problem.
  5. Identify the issues at stake.
  6. Clarify facts as well as feelings.
  7. Consider the case study from different angles. A jewel's facets show up best as it is turned to let light hit those facets at different angles. Approach the case study in the same way. Look at it from several different angles. That is, consider it from the point of view of each person involved. What solution would each lean toward?
  8. Dig around for resources.
  9. Make some assertions:

    -- Howard Culbertson,

Afterword: What can using case studies do for you?

Using a case study can offer various valuable insights and lessons, including:

Overall, using case studies can provide a rich learning experience for you that goes beyond theoretical knowledge to offer practical insights, skills development, and opportunities for reflection and improvement.

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