Thursday, February 9

Church Diversity by Scott Williams

“We must face the sad fact that at the eleven o’clock hour on Sunday morning, when we stand to sing, we stand in the most segregated hour in America.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

It was not planned, but I finished Scott Williams’ (a campus pastor for book Church Diversity on February 3rd, near the beginning of black history month.  Even more coincidentally the next book on my list, and which I just started, is John Piper’s Bloodlines, a book about race and Christianity.  Then, in one of my classes I presented from a chapter of a book titled Hollywood Faith, which looks specifically at Oasis Church in Los Angeles.  In Church Diversity Williams uses Oasis as an example of a highly diverse church and looks at what they do to achieve diversity.

Churches are given all sorts of labels.  There’s the denominational label, Baptist, Reformed, Non-Denominational, and  Roman Catholic.  We label based on clothing, whether the dress code is formal or informal.  We also label churches based on their racial majority.  Many churches will be referred to as a “Black Church” or a “Vietnamese Church.”  Some churches even indicate such in their name, such as Vietnamese Baptist Church.  In his book, Williams  urges the church to break down the walls which inhibit diversity.

Williams looks to the Great Commission which urges the making of disciples of all nations.  As Williams writes, the church should be about Christ and the Gospel, not about ethnicity.  He urges churches to be proactive and offers many steps they can take to work towards diversity.  Among the things he recommends is having the church officially recognize Martin Luther King Day.  He also recommends that churches strive to bring diversity to their worship and leadership teams.  This is not to be ‘politically correct.’  He refers to Cooley’s Theory of Looking Glass Self, which states that people look to society’s perceptions and try to conform to them.  This isn’t intentional, but comes over time and can be especially evident in children.  Williams argues that being intentional about diversity can  help encourage those of other races attending the service.  He goes further and says that the diversity we strive for shouldn’t be just racial diversity, but there should be gender, age, and socioeconomic diversity, though not all of these are as easy to gauge.

“If love were just an emotion, then God couldn’t command it.  But love is something you do.  It can produce emotion, but love is an action…Love is a choice and a commitment.  You choose to love or you choose not to love.” – Rick Warren.

One chapter focuses on large corporations as an example of how to achieve diversity.  Williams looks at the company and the steps they take, urging the church to learn from them.  If corporate America can learn diversity, can’t the church?  The next chapter then highlights churches which are embracing diversity and reveals the steps they are taking.

At times Williams’ writing can be hard hitting.  Some of the stories he reveals show how much progress the church needs.  This book would be great for Pastors or others in church leadership, both in explaining the why’s of diversity and then how to take steps toward it.  However, for those with a passion or interest it could be helpful as well.

Williams includes a letter by Martin Luther King Jr., as if Paul were writing to modern America. 
Martin Luther King Jr. writes, 
“There is another thing that disturbs me to no end about the American church.  You have a white church and you have a Negro church.  You have allowed segregation to creep into the doors of the church.  How can such a division exist in the true Body of Christ?  You must face the tragic fact that when you stand at 11:00am on Sunday morning to sign ‘All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name’ and ‘dear Lord of Father of Mankind,’ you stand in the most segregated hour of Christian America.  They tell me that there is more integration in the entertaining world and other secular agencies than there is in the Christian Church.  How appalling that is.”

On the negative side, at times Williams seemed to veer into some small rabbit trails, and there were other parts which seemed over expounded on and could’ve been condensed without losing Williams’ meaning.  However these did not affect my ability to connect with the book.

Also, consider checking out the video associated with the book.

4/5 stars

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for your review, candor and willingness to invest in the book...