An Updated Reading List on Multi-ethnic Ministry and a Short Apologetic for Broader Reading Patterns

Updating a Reading List for Multi-ethnic Ministry (Revised again May 18, 2023)

The bibliography associated with my chapter in A Heart for Community: New Models for Urban and Suburban Ministry (2010) is somewhat out of date. This is not because the previous books are irrelevant or have been superseded but because new literature has been added to the corpus of understanding. In addition, older books have since come to light that can contribute greatly to our understanding about how to understand the issues and how to move forward in ways that will help the kingdom of God to progress towards expressing the heart of God for all peoples. Recently, a fellow pastor (thanks Tim) has asked me to update the list and his ask confirmed my desire to update the books that might be helpful from my limited perspective.

Before adding the list, I want to add a short apologetic for broader reading patterns.
  1. The presence of any book (in the 2010 list or this new 2021 list), does not imply full acceptance of all arguments and conclusions within a book. This once was an accepted norm of understanding in academic and ministry discussion but in the current cancel-culture in which we live needs to be said. We should all read people with whom we disagree. And we should read to listen and understand, not just to buttress our polemic against a view.
  2. Second, there is a tendency in our own time to be prejudiced toward the new and against the old. Older books, it is argued or assumed to be less relevant and newer books are thought to be more relevant (or progressive, or informed, or nuanced).

    Maybe. Maybe not.

    There is much good that has been forgotten or overlooked and sometimes, even suppressed. And there is much new that benefits from our infatuation with the new and sensational that may in fact be vacuous and filled with philosophical pollution that undermines good conclusions. All things bright and shiny are not necessarily beautiful and worthy.

  3. Third, I am not an expert. That is, I don’t spend all of my time reading the literature, past or present. But I have for 49 years been an interested participant in multi-ethnic ministry in a variety of contexts both practical and academic. Having taught at three seminaries over a 25 year period and planted perhaps the most ethnically diverse church in the history of the Evangelical Free Church of America (at one time, 23 different countries of birth in the congregation), I am no stranger to the dynamics and difficulties, the challenges and joys, related to the topic.

  4. Fourth, many of these books have excellent and expanded bibliographies of other resources.

  5. Fifth, I still have much to learn. (I am sure I will have other books to add in the future.)

With that said, here is an additional list of resources to add to the list I gave in 2010.
(Author, Date, Title, Publisher)
  • Anyabwile, Thabiti. (2015) Reviving the Black Church. (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing)
  • Beals, Ivan A. (1997) Our Racist Legacy: Will the Church Resolve the Conflict? (Notre Dame, IN: Cross Cultural
  • Baucham, Voddie Jr. (2004) The Ever-Loving Truth: Can Faith Thrive in a Post-Christian Culture(Nashville, TN:
    Publishing)  ****
  • ________. (2021) Fault Lines: The Social Justice Movement and Evangelicalism’s Looming Catastrophe.  (Salem
    — due out in April)
  • Evans, Tony. (2011) Oneness Embraced: Reconciliation, the Kingdom, and how we are stronger together. (Chicago, IL:
             Moody Publishers)
  • Harper, Lisa Sharon and Innes, D.C. (2011) Left, Right and Christ: Evangelical Faith in Politics, Forwards by Jim
    and Marvin Olasky. (Boise, ID: Russell Media)
  • Livermore, David A. (2009) Cultural Intelligence: Improving Your CQ to Engage Our Multicultural World. (Grand
             Rapids, MI: Baker Book House)
  • Marvin Olasky. (1992) The Tragedy of American Compassion. Preface by Charles Murry. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway
  • McCaulley, Esau. (2020) Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope.
            (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic)
  • Ortlund, Gavin. (2020) Finding the Right Hills to Die On: The Case for Theological Triage. Forward by D.A. Carson.
            (Wheaton, IL: Crossway)   ****
  • Sirls, William (2018) The Crown Lord. (Rare Bird Books)
  • Sowell, Thomas. (2009) Black Rednecks and White Liberals. (Encounter Books).  ****
  • _________. (2019) Discrimination and Disparities. (Basic Books)
  • Tisby, Jemar. (2021) How to Fight Racism: Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Justice. (Grand Rapids,
  • Washington, Joseph R. Jr. (1964, 1984) Black Religion: The Negro and Christianity in the United States. (University
    of America)    ****
  • Willaims, Thaddeus. (2020) Confronting Injustice without Compromising Truth: 12 Questions Christians Should
             Ask About Social Justice
    (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan)    ****
  • Yamamori, Tesunao, Myers, Bryant L. and Luscombe, Kenneth L., editors. (1998) Serving with the Urban Poor.
    CA: MARC)

**** These five books, one older (1964) and the other newer (2020) are two books that I wish everyone from any side of the issues related to race, ministry, justice, power and gospel could read. The earlier book was written by an African American scholar who unfortunately has been neglected. Highly challenging at every level for all. One other note, these are all in addition to the bibliography I mentioned in the book.

Study Questions

  1. Discuss: “What are some of the best ways to develop cultural-intelligence about a culture not your own?” How does this relate to multi-ethnic ministry?
  2. Acts 17:26 says that God has established the boundaries and times of the peoples of the earth. Does this mean that we each have a responsibility to reach our neighbors with the gospel no matter what their ethnicity or cultural difference? If not, why?
  3. 2 Corinthians 5:17-21 says that we are ambassadors of reconciliation to the people around us. Ambassadors normally work in situations where nations are estranged for some reason. Who are the people in your community who are estranged both from God and from your church?
  4. In what practical ways can you help your neighbors to find reconciliation with God?

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