Cultural Competence in the Church

I am so excited to continue my three-part mini-series at Missio Alliance discussing topics that are trending in the church! In today’s piece, I address the issue of cultural competence.

Cultural Competence and the Church

In this three part mini-series, we are considering this question: Is the Church leading the world, or is the world leading the Church? We are also confronting some of the distractions and inward fighting that prevents the whole church from being effective leaders in a culture and world that is dying. Part I of this mini-series confronted the theological and practical challenges we face regarding women and leadership. Today, we turn our attention to consider what it means to be the people of God in our diverse American cultural context.

Most would affirm that “good Christian folks” are not racist—that they do not hate people who are of a different race or ethnicity than them. Whether or not we show partiality, blindness, or indifference to the privilege, threats, or challenges of those who are culturally different than us is another consideration entirely. Since our political, economic, and social loyalties are most evident during times of heightened tension, it is these crucial moments that truly reveal the nature of our hearts and the credibility of the gospel. Can the church lead the world to a better place of cultural competence and understanding?

That’s what was on my mind as I sat in my pastor’s office a few years ago to interview him for a seminary assignment. He is white and old enough to be my dad. During the course of our conversation he asked: “Do you think racism still exists in our country?” As an African-American woman, I responded, “I don’t think. I know it does.”

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Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America

Divided by Faith book coverI recently finished reading the book, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, and it is a much needed read for every leader and thoughtful Christian in the church right now. This is a conversation starter and small group discussion piece. Read it in a book club or have a diverse group of friends gather for coffee. We desperately need this conversation in the church right now, and we need to have it in a safe community of diverse people we are actually doing life with, mutually submitting to, and willingly transparent and trusting of others with our theological convictions, personal experiences, and real or perceived realities.

Author: Michael O. Emerson & Christian Smith, Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2000

Why I picked up this book:

I wanted to have a better understanding concerning the polarized positions of race relations in the church. Additionally, this book was recommended as required reading for those interested in racial reconciliation and ministry in a multi-ethnic church context.

Who Should Read Divided by Faith:

I highly recommend this read for any Christian who are interested in these issues. In a post- Trayvon Martin and post-Ferguson cultural setting, this book is a necessary read for Christian pastors and leaders who want to become culturally competent.

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