by Michael Pocock and Joseph Henriques
If the Church of Jesus Christ is to penetrate the heavily populated centers of America, ethnically homogeneous congregations of the inner cities may become relics of the past.
Baker Books, P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287, 2002, 238 pages, $16.99.
—Reviewed by W. Sherrill Babb, president, Philadelphia Biblical University.
If the Church of Jesus Christ is to penetrate the heavily populated centers of America, ethnically homogeneous congregations of the inner cities may become relics of the past. Urban America has become a kaleidoscope regarding her ethnic mix. The sooner the Church adjusts to this multiculturalism, the more effective it will become in large city environments. As these authors claim, “If your aim is to understand how and why America is changing and how to respond in a biblically effective manner, you have the right book in your hand”(p. 11).
Placing this volume into the hands of pastors, church leaders, Bible college students and seminarians could very well help transform the effectiveness of urban church ministries for generations to come. Cultural Change and Your Church is far from being a sociological or cultural anthropology textbook. It is an in-the-trenches manual which features discussion starter questions for small group interaction and response. It provides real life congregational models which can be educational for the church which is serious about ministering within an urban venue.
The value of this book centers in four major themes within its ten chapters. First and foremost, the reader is able to comprehend the changing multicultural nature of large American cities. Secondly, Scripture is examined as a compass for those who are serious-minded about multicul-tural ministry. Thirdly, the book emphasizes ways to avoid social faux pas as one builds strategies in fostering intercultural relations. Fourthly, the authors present a compelling call for Christians to make personal commitments and establish effective goals in developing multicultural congregations.
September 11, 2001, caught most American Christians unaware of the rapidly changing ethnic and religious diversity in cities. As a result, many Americans are becoming spiritually sensitive to the need for an urban mission. In an initial yet important stage, this volume can provide practical and strategic ways to reach and disciple for Jesus Christ the millions of inner city children, youth and adults.
The greatest challenge facing the implementation of the principles and techniques as suggested by Pocock and Henriques is the pervasive traditionalism which desensitizes many churches and Christians toward intercultural ministries. One possible reversal of this condition would be to read about and personally visit the multicultural model churches highlighted in this book.
Check these titles:
Foster, Charles R. 2002. Embracing Diversity: Leadership in Multicultural Congregations. Bethesda, Md.: The Alban Institute.
Perkins, Spencer and Chris Rice. 2001. More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press.
Conn, Harvie M. and Manuel Ortiz. Urban Ministry: The Kingdom, the City, and the People of God. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 2001.
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