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Sherwood G. Lingenfelter

Provost Emeritus and Senior Professor of Anthropology

As senior faculty at Fuller, this professor primarily mentors students and only occasionally, if ever, teaches courses.

BA, Wheaton College
PhD, University of Pittsburgh

Courses Taught

MB508: Culture, Human Sexuality, and Ministry
ML537: Leaders, Denominational Structures, and Missional Churches
ML776: Leadership Change: Learning from Leadership Failure

Areas of Expertise

Social structure, anthropology of leadership, globalization and cultural change, culture and partnership for mission, ministering cross-culturally

“We all participate in social and cultural contexts that become the norm for our expectations and behavior toward others.”


Dr. Lingenfelter, in his book Leading Cross-Culturally: Covenant Relationships for Effective Christian Leadership.


Sherwood G. Lingenfelter retired as provost of Fuller Seminary on June 30, 2011, but continues to serve on Fuller’s faculty as senior professor of anthropology. He joined Fuller in 1999 as professor and dean of the School of Intercultural Studies (then the School of World Mission) and served as acting provost in 2001 before being appointed provost in 2002.

Before his appointment at Fuller, he served as professor of intercultural studies and provost and senior vice president at Biola University, La Mirada, California from 1983 to 1999 and professor of anthropology at SUNY College at Brockport from 1966 to 1983. He holds a BA from Wheaton College and a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh. 

Dr. Lingenfelter’s field research includes three years in the Yap Islands of Micronesia and short-term research projects with the SIL International in Brazil, Cameroon, and Suriname. He has served as research and training consultant to SIL over the last three decades in Papua New Guinea, Borneo, Philippines, Africa, and Latin America. He also contributes regularly to mission conferences and to missionary candidate training for other evangelical mission organizations. His publications include Teamwork Cross-Culturally: Christ-Centered Solutions for Leading Multinational Teams (coauthored with Julie A. Green, 2022), Leadership in the Way of the Cross: Forging Ministry from the Crucible of Crisis (2018), Ministering Cross-Culturally: A Model for Effective Personal Relationships (coauthored with Marvin K. Mayers, 2016), Transforming Culture: A Challenge for Christian Mission (1998), Agents of Transformation: A Guide for Effective Cross-Cultural Ministry (1996), and Leading Cross-Culturally: Covenant Relationships for Effective Christian Leadership (2008). He also served as coauthor with his wife, Dr. Judith Lingenfelter, for Teaching Cross-Culturally: An Incarnational Model for Learning and Teaching (2003), and with Dr. Paul R. Gupta for Breaking Tradition to Accomplish Vision: Training Leaders for a Church Planting Movement (2006).