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Sherwood G. Lingenfelter

Provost Emeritus and Senior Professor of Anthropology

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. Unless we have a clear understanding of self and our own culture, and how its beliefs and values restrict our acceptance and service of others, we will not readily reach an understanding of others or be able to serve them effectively.”


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, New York, from 1966 to 1983. He holds a BA from Wheaton College and a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Pittsburgh.

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 from 1977 to 2007 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 on missions include Ministering Cross-Culturally (1986, 2003), Transforming Culture (1992, 1998) Agents of Transformation (1996), Leading Cross-culturally (2008), and Leadership in the Way of the Cross (2018). He also served as coauthor with his wife, Dr. Judith E. Lingenfelter, for Teaching Cross-Culturally (2003), and with Dr. Paul R. Gupta for Breaking Tradition to Accomplish Vision: Training Leaders for a Church Planting Movement (2006).