A New Tool for Intercultural Development

Date posted: Friday 12 July 2019

The Rev. Peter Harrits recently completed training to be a Qualified Administrator of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), a highly regarded tool for organizations and individuals for assessing intercultural competence. He will now to available to administer and interpret the inventory for synod sponsored groups, congregational leadership teams, and individuals. Peter is the Director of Bega Kwa Bega (our synod companion partnership with Tanzania) and an Assistant to the Bishop at the Saint Paul Area Synod.


Continuum of Intercultural DevelopmentThe IDI measures skills and mindsets for navigating differences with the goal of improving people’s intercultural competence. The IDI places participants’ mindsets along a continuum, ranging from denial (inability to see deeper cultural trends or world views) at one end up to adaptation (ability to adapt to whatever culture they’re in) on the other end of the spectrum.


“The inventory helps people understand their own biases and view of the world,” Peter said. “Many churches are at ‘minimization’ on the continuum, meaning they tend to minimize differences in order to focus on areas of unity.” He notes that differences encompass a variety of areas…race, wealth and orientation, to name a few.


Following administration of the inventory, Peter will be able to provide coaching for groups to become more effectively engaged in diversity. This may include helping them challenge assumptions, recommend books or films from different cultures and encourage them to meet with others who can expand their insights. The IDI facilitates cooperative conversations and actions directed toward growth and development rather than judgment and resistance.


“The IDI is a meaningful tool for global AND local accompaniment,” Peter said. “It actually helps us advance the synod’s mission statement, particularly in the areas of building partnerships that are local, global and mutually transformative and seeking wider engagement in God’s world.” He noted that the IDI would also be helpful to congregations seeking to engage in changing neighborhoods in their communities.


The IDI is used by corporations, schools, religious organizations and other institutions. At the recent training session Peter attended, ago there were representatives from Cargill, the Minnesota Children’s Museum, Luther Seminary and Carthage College. A number of other synods in the area use the inventory as well.


Our synod used the IDI last fall with a global/local group that brought together leaders of our Guatemala and Tanzania synod companion partnerships as well as our local mission partners. After taking the inventory, that group was surprised to not be as far along on the continuum as it thought and will be addressing some of its challenges as conversation continues.


As part of his work within the synod, Peter will be available to start consulting this fall with a few congregations at a time. The cost to take the inventory is $21 per person for nonprofits. If your leadership or pastoral team is interested, please contact Peter at 651.224.4313 or peter.harrits@spas-elca.org.