Patron-client relationship in cross-cultural church planting: a case study of Cambodia Bible College, 1998 - 2015

Oh, Sukhwan (2018) Patron-client relationship in cross-cultural church planting: a case study of Cambodia Bible College, 1998 - 2015. PhD thesis, Middlesex University / Oxford Centre for Mission Studies. [Thesis]

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The primary research question of this study is: ‘How does the patron-client dynamic between Korean missionaries and Cambodian church planters offer an alternative understanding of aid dependency within the discourse of mission studies?’ While the patron-client relationship has been a popular concept in social anthropology studies, its value and effects have not been sufficiently explored within mission studies; specifically the issue of aid dependency particularly between Korean missionaries and Cambodian church planters has not been the subject of focused research. The key effects of patron-client dynamics are explored in this thesis through a case study methodology, examining the Cambodia Bible College (CBC) church-planting projects in Cambodia. Qualitative data was collected primarily through semi-structured interviews and participatory focused group discussions with the CBC founder and CBC church-planting pastors. The macro-function of Microsoft Word-processing was used as the primary data analysis. Once the interview transcriptions, both in English and Korean, were complete, by coding the key terms and key ideas emergent patterns of primary and series of sub-categories were observed. From initial research data, the aid dependency issue – both healthy and unhealthy – was identified as one of the major effects in patron-client dynamics. In the CBC church-planting process, the findings show that the patron takes on three unique diachronic and progressive roles: first, the patron as a father; second, the patron as a sponsor, and third, the patron as a partner. Similarly, a client also takes on three roles: first, the client as a child; second, the client as sponsoree (client), and third, the client as a partner. Although social studies currently express the patron-client dynamics primarily in material and political terms, in the case between the founder and the CBC pastors, intangible relational assets, i.e. ‘the patron as a father', were observed. This thesis argues that ‘the patron father’, plays a significant role in developing CBC pastors as church planters, helps them access the necessary resources to establish their churches at the initial stages, and offers an alternative reading of aid dependency as a relational concept rather than an economic one. Unfortunately, although unintended by both parties, the CBC pastors have become aid-dependent, which is hindering their churches from becoming self-sustaining and which makes an equal partnership in the future difficult, pointing to a conceptual relationship between aid dependency and the patron-client relationship. The future research on aid dependency in the church planting effort, and especially in the context of Gap & Eul, will prove that “partnering” their culturally diverse perspectives can contribute to mission studies for the next generation of transnational workers.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Research Areas: B. > Theses
C. Collaborative Partners > Oxford Centre for Mission Studies
Item ID: 25933
Depositing User: Vimal Shah
Date Deposited: 08 Jan 2019 08:59
Last Modified: 29 Nov 2022 19:37

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