IVP - Online Pulpit - Practical Theology Diversified

July 8, 2011

Practical Theology Diversified

The communities in which our churches reside are becoming more diverse every day. Not just new families or young people, but more ethnicities, different languages and unique cultures. Mark Branson and Juan Martinez, authors of Churches, Cultures and Leadership, believe the Holy Spirit has called the church to embrace this new diversity, not just with community projects or special services, but as a practical theology of shared life:

“Moses left Egypt with a ‘mixed crowd,’ and the earliest followers of Jesus learned that the Holy Spirit was leading them to cross cultural borders. The scriptural narratives are loaded with references to the strangeness of strangers and the discomforts of participating in God’s love for the world. This book is about that strangeness, those discomforts. It is about God’s call on the church to love our neighbors, and we acknowledge that such love is a matter of grace and of work.

“Our focus is on churches in the United States and how we can be faithful to God’s call on our churches in this context. We live in a culturally diverse nation—and many of our cities and neighborhoods exhibit that cultural pluralism. Ethnic diversity is evident in the media, at shopping malls and in many schools. Such diversity is less evident in our churches, but it is growing. We wish to promote more attentiveness, wisdom and faithfulness concerning intercultural life in and among churches, and between churches and their neighbors.

“We have all been shaped in a historical context of prejudice and racism. We carry the influences of our environment in our minds and hearts; too often our actions, choices and words perpetuate ethnic biases. There are many prejudices, rooted in racism, built into our institutions. We believe that God’s love for the world is definitive in Jesus’ inauguration of God’s reign, and therefore we believe that the church’s identity and agency should be characterized by reconciliation. Such reconciliation, if it is defined and empowered by the gospel, must be personal, interpersonal, cultural and structural. When persons of different cultures share life, once we get beyond music and food, the complexities increase.

“We claim that ‘paying attention’ is important and difficult. Just as a competent painter, carpenter or teacher learns, over many years, how to attend&mdsh;how to train their senses and responses to their environment and their work—church leaders need to pay attention to cultural characteristics and the work of shaping intercultural life. And that is the purpose of our writing: to help men and women in our churches to see differently and to gain the skills and competencies needed for multicultural contexts. We want to encourage church leaders to create environments that make God’s reconciling initiatives apparent in church life and in our missional engagement with neighborhoods and cities.”

CCLOP.jpgExcerpt taken from Churches, Cultures and Leadership, an interdisciplinary approach that integrates biblical and theological study with the disciplines of sociology, cultural anthropology and communications, by Mark Lau Branson and Juan F. Martinez.

Posted by Nate Baker-Lutz at July 8, 2011 11:00 AM Bookmark and Share

Comments are closed for this entry.