Sunday, January 15, 2012
Book review of Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church by Soong-Chan Rah
Although I grew up singing "Jesus loves the little children, red and yellow, black and white" I can't say that my context gave me much opportunity to practice this same love for the "other." Or perhaps the problem was that I didn't see the opportunities. If you suffer such "color blindness," this book by Soong-Chan Rah can help correct your vision. Framed within a kingdom-driven-, holistic gospel-, missional perspective, the author explores culture in its good and fallen aspects with a call to engage it responsibly. He provides a chapter on understanding our current North American cultural landscape in light of political, social, and ecclesial histories, answering how we got to where we are. His chapter on the spectrum of expressions within a culture is quite helpful as he examines differences such as: individual vs. group, guilt vs. shame, equality vs. hierarchy, direct vs. indirect, and task vs. relationship. Whether you aspire to plant a multi-ethnic church, or minister cross-culturally within a North American context or abroad, this book challenges you to examine aspects of power, dominant-culture privilege, and systems with new lenses. The books gives practical means too for hospitality and storytelling (under-the-radar evangelism) that easly translate from culture to culture. In contrast to McGavran's application of the homogeneous unit principle, Soong-Chan Rah advocates that despite numerous obstacles in society and human nature, God calls local churches to be a diverse community that truly represents the kingdom of God. I am glad to have required this book for my course Evangelism and Missions in an Urban Setting.