The Culture Tree: A Powerful Tool for Mission Research and Training


  • Mark R. Hedinger CultureBound
  • Terry Steele CultureBound
  • Lauren T. Wells CultureBound


This article introduces a model of cultural analysis based upon the organic nature of a culture, called the “Culture Tree.” Culture is an integrated system of ideas, actions, authorities, and unseen presuppositions. These elements of people groups work together to create patterns that can be analyzed and understood with the appropriate tools. Just like cultures, trees have different elements that are integrated into a living, growing organism. The “Culture Tree” model seeks to provide a tool to demonstrate the integrated nature of cultural elements similar to integration within a living organism. Mission training and mission strategy both benefit from models of patterned interactions that occur within people groups. Thus, the model seeks to accurately reflect the structure, organic nature, and complexity of cultures. This article will also demonstrate the accuracy of the model and its usefulness to culture training and mission planning.

Author Biographies

Mark R. Hedinger, CultureBound

Executive Director

Terry Steele, CultureBound

Academic Director

Lauren T. Wells, CultureBound

Director of Training