Boost Your Cultural IQ

Soong-Chan Rah calls for the American church to understand itself.

As the nation heads toward a "majority minority" population, Soong-Chan Rah argues that the evangelical church will get there faster—and has a chance to be ahead of the curve in modeling a multicultural community. His new book, Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church, offers some thoughts about what a multi-ethnic church can look like.

At what point does a church deserve to be called a multi-ethnic church instead of a monocultural church with some outsider members?

I think the strict sociological definition is 80 percent of one culture or ethnicity and 20 percent of another. I think that tends to be a little bit too generous, because even with 20 percent of another ethnic group, the dominant culture can still be dictated by the 80 percent. That's what I'm trying to get at in the book, that it really is more about ethos, it really is more about the larger sense of what is happening in the church. If you have many different cultures but one culture dominates, I would hesitate to call that a multicultural church.

So it's more a matter of mentality than numbers.

Mentality, attitude, approach. Multiethnic congregations have the sense of, "We are a church that is not only numerically diverse or demographically diverse, but also culturally diverse. We know how to appreciate different cultures that are a part of our church rather than [having] one group that dominates how business is done, how meetings are conducted, how worship is conducted."

What are some ways that multiethnic congregations could defuse situations where factionalism has split the church along cultural lines?

The cultural mix is going to be different from place to place. If we have answers for a church that is half white/half black, and we apply ...

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