The United States is currently undergoing the most rapid demographic shift in its history. By 2050, white Americans will no longer comprise a majority of the population. Instead, they'll be the largest minority group in a country made up entirely of minorities, followed by Hispanic Americans, African Americans, and Asian Americans. Past shifts in America’s demographics always reshaped the county’s religious landscape. This shift will be no different. Soong-Chan Rah’s book is intended to equip evangelicals for ministry and outreach in our changing nation. Borrowing from the business concept of “cultural intelligence,” he explores how God’s people can become more multiculturally adept. Rah’s study ranges from discussions about cultural and racial histories to reviews of case-study churches and Christian groups that are succeeding in bridging ethnic divides.
Without guilt trips or browbeating, the book will spur individuals, churches, and parachurch ministries toward more effectively bearing witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ, the good news for people of every racial and cultural background. Its message is positive; its potential impact, transformative.
“When a majority culture is dominant, it is that culture that determines how power is used and distributed. The danger in a multicultural church context is that we would repeat the mistakes the early church was making prior to the Jerusalem Council. The dominant group in power was not yet willing to yield its cultural values for the sake of those who were marginalized or alienated from that power.” (Page 120)
“Christians used to be people of influence. That influence arose not from a political power base or from an economic power, but it arose from being engaged in the culture and speaking truth to the culture.” (Page 71)
“So what is culture? It is a human attempt to understand the world around us. It is the programming that shapes who we are and who we are becoming. It is a social system that is shaped by the individual and that also has the capacity to shape the individual. But it is also the presence of God, the image of God, the mission of God found in the human spirit, soul, and social system.” (Page 38)
“It is neither a hand out nor a hand up—it is a hand across. We are all made equally in the image of God. We are all equally depraved as a result of sin. Our cultures are equally reflective of God’s glory yet equally limited by human folly. We need a hand out and a hand up, not from each other, but from our Savior.” (Page 121)
“The table of nations is presented in Genesis 10—a human genealogy that reveals that differences along racial, ethnic, and cultural lines had already begun to form. We see that seeds of ethnic diversity already exist among the people even before the scattering.” (Page 76)
In the past decade something new and important has emerged: Readers are now able to wade through a huge pool of books on multiethnicity/multiculturalism and the church. If you have been waiting for the handbook needed to navigate these new waters, this is it! Soong-Chan Rah’s Many Colors will become the standard for Christians who want to understand and practice cross-cultural intelligence. The church desperately needed a book reflecting the depth and breadth of this defining work. Soong-Chan has delivered!
—Randy Woodley, Distinguished Associate Professor of Faith and Culture, George Fox University, and author of Living in Color: Embracing God’s Passion for Ethnic Diversity
Many Colors is a must-read for those who are serious about being the church in practice and not just theory. Dr. Rah skillfully integrates theological, psychological, sociological, and practical information concerning cultural understanding needed for a church that is increasingly becoming multiethnic and multicultural. Finally, a book on cultural understanding for the church that is not sociology sprinkled with some Scriptures, but is solidly built first on the foundation of Scripture, which reveals God’s priorities for our relationships.
—Rodney Cooper, professor of discipleship and leadership development, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary
This is a must-read for anyone in cross-cultural ministry, as well as all who wish to engage the new multiethnic America. Rah challenges us to pursue culturally intelligent leadership, while providing a convincing biblical-theological framework and practical suggestions to help us move forward in this most important journey.
—Tom Lin, Vice President of Missions, InterVarsity Christian Fellowship
Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah is the Milton B. Engebretson Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago and the author of The Next Evangelicalism: Releasing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity (IVP, 2009); Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church (Moody, 2010); and an upcoming commentary on the book of Lamentations, Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times (IVP, 2015). He is also co-author of Forgive Us: Confessions of a Compromised Faith (Zondervan, 2014).
After completing his BA in political science and history/sociology at Columbia University, Dr. Rah earned an MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a ThM from Harvard University, and a DMin from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He is currently in the ThD program at Duke University.
Dr. Rah was the founding senior pastor of the Cambridge Community Fellowship Church (CCFC), a multi-ethnic church focused on urban ministry and committed to living out the values of racial reconciliation and social justice in the urban context.
Dr. Rah lives in Chicago with his wife,Sue, who teaches special education, and their two children,Annah and Elijah.