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Publication Date: 2011
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Diversity in the Church Matters to God
The local Church is the hope of the world
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best over 45 years ago: "We must face the sad fact that at 11 oclock on Sunday morning, when we stand to sing… we stand in the most segregated hour in America."
What an unfortunate reality that many still face today. Have you ever been asked the question, "Is your church a white church or a black church?"…No, its Gods Church!
Church Diversity discusses topics such as:
- How we can begin to implement change today
- What key insights, strategies and practical tips can help
- Who are the leading voices in diversity and what can they teach the Church
This resource is a tool to foster the tough conversations and encourage decision-making to change the face and heart of the Church.
There is already a community out there passionate about this topic and moving the Church forward. Hundreds of them uploaded their photos and can be seen throughout the pages of this book. Their twitter names are also included so you can begin connecting with them today!
WE ARE CHURCH DIVERSITY
"Whatever racial woes we face in America, they cannot be dealt with by politicians or Washington D.C., but rather by the local church…help our nation navigate through this critical and much needed conversation on race."
- J.C. Watts, Jr., Former Member of Congress
"…Scott Williams is ever seeking to see this gift opened and embraced. His book, like his life and ministry, is an invitation to the most rewarding of all human journeys."
- Jim Hanon, Writer/Director End of the Spear
Scott Williams served on staff as a key leader and campus pastor at LifeChurch.tv, one of the largest and most innovative churches in America. He is an effective speaker, strategist, ministry consultant, entrepreneur, and popular social media influencer for pastors and ministries around the globe. He is an avid blogger at BigIsTheNewSmall.com. Scott is married, a father of two, and lives in Oklahoma City, OK.
Scott Williams is a key leader in Lifechurch.tv, a non-denominational church based out of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. He is an African-American pastor seeking to make his local church and the American church at large more ethnically and racially integrated. Church Diversity is a tour de force on the importance of racial and ethnic diversity in the local churches of America. Williams hits the issue from several angles, and makes a very convincing case.
A big chunk of Williams' book integrates his argument with his personal story. I thought this was a wise idea. It makes the book more readable, it makes clear that Williams has a strong personal investment in the issue he is speaking about, and it bolsters many of the points he is trying to make.
Williams begins Church Diversity by making the argument that the church is, indeed, segregated on Sunday mornings. This is not only true with the black/white divide in American Christianity, it is also demonstrated by myriad small, ethnically driven churches that show up in any decent sized city in the United States. This was evidenced in the testimony of Jayson John, who is a multicultural minister of another church in Oklahoma, and is also of East Indian decent (pp. 71-75).
Church Diversity argues that multi-ethnic, multi-racial churches only come about through deliberate intentionality. The author shares in a convicting chapter that corporate America cares more about diversity that the church does. I think he is right. Williams says, "The only way race will become a non-issue is if we make race an issue" (p. 94).
This intentionality begins with leadership intentionally addressing the issue. Intention, however, is not enough to get very far in building a multi-ethnic church. Toward the end of the book, after making his case, Williams begins to lay out some clear principles for beginning multicultural ministry and transitioning your church into a multicultural church.
All in all, I thought Church Diversity was a unique book on creating multicultural Christian communities. I would have liked to have seen more on the biblical foundation for this. Also, some of the sections of the book were awkwardly stated. I thought Williams could have used some stronger editorial input on some technical aspects of his writing style. But these small weaknesses in this fine book should not keep people from reading it, especially if they live in a multicultural community. Clint Walker, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com
Sirius KnottCharleston, WVAge: 35-44Gender: male5 Stars Out Of 5Church Diversity On Purpose as God Always IntendedJuly 5, 2011Sirius KnottCharleston, WVAge: 35-44Gender: maleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Subtitled â€˜Sunday: The Most Segregated day of the Week,' Scott Williams' thought-provoking book aims at being the flashpoint for the We Are Church Diversity movement. We Are Church Diversity is consists of "congregants, pastors, church planters, educators, leaders and Christians around the world" who affirm that diversity matters to God and are "committed to seeing the body of Christ more racially unified." Williams offers us the challenge of intentionality: church diversity on purpose. And he proposes lots of ways to do that: everything from having your church acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr Day, to celebrating Church Diversity Week (beginning the 2nd Friday of each year and ending on the 3rd Friday), to preaching diversity from our pulpits [fellow preachers, I'm talking to you] and Sunday school lecterns, to making sure that your church board and stage reflect the diversity you believe in (because what guests see on the stage and who they see in the leadership lets them know whether they are truly welcome or simply tolerated).
Of course, the book is something of a riff off Paul's Letter to American Christians, November 4, 1956 by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The most oft-quoted section of this letter stands as a undeniable indictment of the modern church - as much as it did more than 50 years ago:
"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 tragoc fact that when you stand at 11:00 on Sunday morning to sing â€˜All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name' and â€˜Dear Lord and Father of Mankind,' you stand in the most segregated hour of Christian America."
Not much has changed in nearly 55 years! There are a variety of reasons why, ranging from base racism and hatred to apathy and Biblical ignorance. Some folks still try to justify segregation by twisting God's Word. Dr. King himself mentioned that some "argue that the Negro is inferior by nature because of Noah's curse upon the children of Ham." Many cults have tried to say that the so-called "curse of Ham" was the beginning of the "Negroid race," but this is nonsense. First of all, the curse was upon Canaan (Ham's son) who fathered the Mediterranean Canaanite peoples who settled in modern-day Israel, Lebanoon and Syria; in other words, olive-skinned people groups. Oops.
Second and most importantly of all, God is for diversity. No, don't shake your head, because He is. Consider the following. The Bible reminds us that He has made "of one blood all nations of men" [Acts 17:26], which means that He packed all of the genetic potential for every shade from black to white into Adam and Eve. Consider also, the birth of the Church. We know of course that "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus" [Galatians 3:28], but have you really thought out what occured at Pentecost? In Acts chapter 2, the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the church. The Bible records that there were in Jerusalem "Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven" (verse 5). It started with every nation, and in fact each person present heard the Spirit-filled disciples speak in their own language (verse 6). And after Peter's sermon, we find that about 3,000 souls (verse 41) were added to the Church_ from every nation under heaven! Why should this surprise us? Doesn't our Great Commission tell us to make disciples of all nations [Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8] and that we are to be witnesses to the uttermost ends of the earth? Doesn't the Word record that God pulled Philip out of a revival in Samaria so that he might bring the Gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch? God cares about diversity. It's in the origins of mankind, the birth of the church, in our commission_ and Bible fortells that God will have His perfect way. The Book of Revelation records that John saw "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands" (Rev.7:9) as a fulfillment of the Great Comission that He charged us with!
So why shouldn't our churches reflect the kind of diversity God intended from the beginning of the Church and certainly intends as its end result? That's right; there is no reason why not.
Williams invites us throughout this book to assess ourselves and our churches, to believe in our potential for the kind of Biblical diversity God desires and to change the church for the better. On purpose. In other words, he provokes us to build God's Kingdom rather than little clubs for those who match our shade of melanin.
Diversity takes intentionality.
luv2readjenLisle, ILAge: 35-44Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5It's 11am Sunday, what do you see?July 2, 2011luv2readjenLisle, ILAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5I admit, I had a bias when I started this book. I am not a mega-church fan, and more than likely had I realized before I requested it that Scott Williams was a satellite pastor for a mega-church, I would have skipped the challenge of this book. That said, Scott had some really great things to say - things that I need to hear. There is a significant truth imbedded in the politically correct verbiage of "Diversity" - that is that the gospel is not just for people that look the same as I do - it is for everyone, everywhere.
Whether you attend a mega-church or a mini-church, or anything in between, know this - if your church is not reaching out to people where they are with the message of the gospel, you are attending a barely-there-church. God has called us to reach out, to cross lines of ethnicity, disability, and economics. My heart is generally for people with special needs, so as I read this book, I was overcome with a burden of seeing a church where people who are visibly and invisibly differently-abled are welcome, too. The love of Jesus is the hope of everyone; how can we ever claim to follow the savior if we aren't willing to confront â€˜elephant in the room' that keeps us apart from each other? God's word says that all of us will worship together in heaven; why not pursue some measure of heaven on earth?
That said, there was another conviction that the Holy Spirit encouraged me to revisit as I read this book: if God is powerfully present in the lives of those who are pastoring them, doesn't that mean that God is powerfully present at mega-churches? My concern has always been that volume goals exceed Jesus goals. Following a corporate â€˜bottom line' mentality, these churches aren't about personal relationships with Jesus (or among members for that matter) but about feeding the coffers and lining the leadership pockets. I still feel as though personally, I need a deep connection to my fellow worshipers, and that a large church doesn't meet that need for me - HOWEVER, I also recognize that my distrust and blanket characterization of these churches as being hungry for people instead of hungry for the gospel is completely unfair and not in line with a Jesus-centric life, either. So, thanks Scott, for broadening my horizons in several areas. Church Diversity is a good book, and one that will definitely encourage a thinking person to acknowledge and assess their own deep-seated biases.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255
Debra BrinkmanYoder, COAge: 45-54Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5We all need to be a part of the solutionMay 8, 2011Debra BrinkmanYoder, COAge: 45-54Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5When this book came up as being available for review as part of the Page Turners program, I did not request it. Even though I'm Facebook friends with the author, Scott Williams. Even though I'm rather partial to anyone with a last name of Williams. But a book called Church Diversity? How can this apply to me right now?
I'm not in charge of anything, I'm not in a position to change anything, and, ummm, well... you know, I'd rather not think about that elephant in the room.
I grew up in a church where diversity meant that the Norwegians and the Swedes were willing to mix socially, you know? That isn't a slam of that church... that was a fairly accurate reflection of the community. So this isn't something I've ever really thought about.
Then an email came about doing a blog tour, and I went and watched the little promo videos. Like one with Scott talking about going out into all the world. Talking about how we need to talk about the elephant in the pew. Quoting the Reverend King, about 11:00 on Sunday being the most segregated hour in Christian America.
So I signed up.
I've been slowly working through this book, which is incredibly well-written. And I am realizing the church diversity is not just up to the leadership in "the church" or even "a church" but it is something that everyone needs to be thinking about. The best part is that although he is a black man, he isn't pointing fingers at white America as being "the" problem. And I realized that was part of my hang-up about reading the book, because I guess I was concerned that I was going to have to wrestle with the idea that everything was the fault of white Christians.
Scott certainly is convicting, but he doesn't throw around a lot of blame and guilt.
Not only does he give the vision of a church for all nations and all tongues, but he gives a ton of practical stuff too. And it isn't just what worked in his church in Oklahoma. He talks to people from a number of other churches around the nation about their successes in embracing diversity.
This is a book that church leaders everywhere ought to read. But it is also a book for every Christian to read. We all need to be a part of the solution here.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.
DisneyCyndi4 Stars Out Of 5Church DiversityMay 3, 2011DisneyCyndiQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 4It's sad to think that 40 years later Rev. Martin Luther King's words still ring true..."We must face the sad fact that at 11 o'clock on Sunday morning, when we stand to sing...we stand in the most segregated hour in America." Scott Williams has decided to step up to the plate and confront the elephant in the room! His new book " Church Diversity-Sunday the Most Segregated Day of the Week delves into this tough issue and offers a forum for conversation. You may think this subject does not effect you, but if you take the time to read the scriptures you would know that this subject was very close to our Abba Father's heart and because of that it should matter to us. I love Scott's quote when he says "Church diversity is not just about the color of skin, but rather the wages of sin". This is a must read for every church leader, every church goer, and anyone who truly wants to make a change in the world.
HaelieAge: 35-44Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5Challenging - makes you get honest with yourselfMay 2, 2011HaelieAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 4How diverse is your world? Your sphere of friends?
For those who attend church---how diverse is your church?
Does everyone there look like you? Does that make you comfortable? Have you ever even given it any thought?
In reading Scott Williams' book Church Diversity: Sunday the Most Segregated Day of the Week, I cannot help but give thought to the topic.
You think you know yourself. You think you've come so far from where others are.
...Until I read this book.
Scott (or @ScottWilliams as he is know on Twitter) really forces us as readers to take a deep, honest look at how we view diversity and lack of diversity---specifically in our churches. He brings us to a place of honesty and realization that is even uncomfortable at times, I must admit. But this place to which he pulls us is a necessary place in a pivotal time.
As Scott states, "It's become the 'new normal' for sporting events, concerts, and other arenas to be filled with worshiping fans of all races, holding hands, cheering, yelling, shouting, and worshiping together. Unfortunately, that is not the 'new normal' in God's House---the local church."
What do we do about this conundrum?
"We have all been empowered by God to leave our little piece of the world different than when we found it. There is a responsibility to change, to have tough conversations, to make tough decisions, and to move past the Nobel Peace Prize-winning platitudes of 'hope' and 'change.' We cannot just talk about the change, but istead we much be the change." - Scott Williams
Because we are one body in Christ and share one faith as believers, His church---His body---is to reflect that. Not only is it/are we to reflect that oneness, but we are also to be constantly reaching out to "all the world" not just the people and parts of the world that are most like us and most comfortable to us.
Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." - Matthew 28:18-20
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. - Galatians 3:26-28
So, now, do you think this Church Diversity thing is a big deal?
It should be.
If you take on the heavy challenge of diving into Scott's book, be prepared to be uncomfortable with yourself and your world around you. And be prepared to be challenged and inspired all at the same time.
Oh, and fasten your seat belt and hold on tight! It's a bumpy ride, but somebody's gotta do it!
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.