David Anderson writes about multicultural leadership not from the perspective of an ivory tower intellectual, but as a hands-on practitioner who loves and believes in the body of Christ. . . . If you believe there is no solution to the race problem, I urge you to reconsider and to learn from someone who is on the frontlines of making multicultural ministry a reality in the church today. —Bill Hybels, founding ...
David Anderson writes about multicultural leadership not from the perspective of an ivory tower intellectual, but as a hands-on practitioner who loves and believes in the body of Christ. . . . If you believe there is no solution to the race problem, I urge you to reconsider and to learn from someone who is on the frontlines of making multicultural ministry a reality in the church today.
—Bill Hybels, founding and senior pastor, Willow Creek Community Church
Multiculturalism isn’t a trend, it’s a reality. Evidence of this country’s rich racial mix is all around us in our schools, our stores, our neighborhoods, our recreational facilities—everywhere except our churches. Heaven may include every culture, tongue, and tribe, but in the United States, Sunday morning remains one of the last bastions of ethnic separatism. It’s time to stop merely talking about multicultural worship and start living it.
In this groundbreaking book, David Anderson invites us all—African-American, Asian, Caucasian, and Latino—to learn how to dance the dance of multicultural ministry. We’ve all got different moves, but that’s the beauty of diversity: the various gifts we bring, the wisdom of our heritages, the different creative ways we express the same Lord. Think it can’t be done? Think again. As Anderson demonstrates, it is being done successfully by more and more churches. Wherever your church is now on the multicultural continuum, you can join the ranks of those moving toward a diverse and thriving ministry. Combining frontline insights with inspiring stories, Anderson takes you and your church into the strategy-level realities of what it takes to make multicultural ministry work in your setting.
Do you hear the beat of the Spirit? God is calling your church to the dance of unity in diversity. Don’t hold back! Grab this book, get out on the dance floor, and let Multicultural Ministry show you the steps.
Includes a Racial Reconciliation survey and six-session Racial Reconciliation curriculum.
'David Anderson writes about multicultural leadership not from the perspective of an ivory tower intellectual, but as a hands-on practitioner who loves and believes in the body of Christ. . . . If you believe there is no solution to the race problem, I urge you to reconsider and to learn from someone who is on the frontlines of making multicultural ministry a reality in the church today.' -- Bill Hybels
David Anderson is the founder and senior pastor of Bridgeway Community Church, a multicultural congregation located in Columbia, Maryland. He is the founder and president of the BridgeLeader Network, a multicultural leadership consulting organization, and an instructor of cultural diversity at the University of Phoenix, Maryland campuses. With a PhD in the sociological integration of religion and society from Oxford Graduate School, Dr. Anderson hosts the radio show Reconciliation Live in the nation’s capital. He is coauthor of Across the Divide and author of Multicultural Ministry, and is a sought-after international conference speaker, lecturer, and consultant. He and his wife, Amber, reside in Ellicott City, Maryland, with their three young children.
chapter one THE BOOKENDS Or 'House on a Cul-de-sac'
THE HOUSE WAS LARGE, THE YARD WAS BIG, AND THE majestic pine trees that lined the back yard reached toward the sky with a sense of grandeur.
My father was so proud as he drove us through the beautiful suburban neighborhood in Adelphi, Maryland.We children sat in the back seat peering out the car windows, making sounds like ooh and ah. Dad explained that the neighborhood we were driving through was going to be ours. The split-level house on Rambler Place that he and Mom had purchased would be our new home. Feeling both pride and disbelief, my mouth open and my eyes as big as saucers, I nervously waited for the 'just kidding' punch line. It was hard to imagine that we could live in such a nice home, in such a quiet neighborhood, on a street that ended in a word I had never heard of before---cul-de-sac. Like the Jeffersons in the barrier-breaking television show from the late 1970s, we were indeed 'movin' on up to the east side.' I was ten.
Shortly after the big move, we received a shocking 'welcome.' One morning I rolled out of bed, headed to the kitchen, looked out the window, and spotted police cars in our driveway.'What's the matter?' I hollered. My mother informed me that someone had placed a large cross in our front yard. She also said someone had driven a car across our lawn, leaving skid marks on our green grass and mowing over our delicate Dogwood tree.
I was confused. I could not understand why anyone would drive across our lawn. But the cross was a good thing, right? As the son of a Baptist preacher growing up in a good Christian family, I knew the cross represented hope and promise. However, while Dad was still out with the police, Mom explained to me that this cross was not a sign of hope but a symbol of terror. It was an act of hatred and a federal offense.We were unwanted in this neighborhood. I felt sad. I felt scared.
Within a couple of days, the phone rang very early in the morning. Because the phone was on my mother's side of the bed, she picked up the receiver only to hear a long period of silence before the caller hung up. There were other calls. One morning a muffled voice strongly suggested that we should move out of the neighborhood before it was too late. Later I asked if we were going to move. Mom stated in no uncertain terms that God blessed us with this home and we were not moving. Although I admired my parents' strength and courage, I cannot say that I was as certain as they were about sticking around. Someone was turning the neighborhood of our dreams into a nightmare. I felt mad. I felt nervous.
I believe it's correct to say that many whites in America were not raised to compensate for their whiteness as a liability. They may have been taught that they can grow up to be whatever they wanted to be. So was I. However, I had additional lessons to learn. My early experiences taught me at a young age that being black in America was a liability, not an asset. The determination of my parents to beat the odds was a value that I caught. I admired them then and still do to this day! One of my lessons was that though I could be anything I wanted to be, I would have to work harder and be smarter than my nonblack counterparts. I was taught that the resistance to my success as a minority in a majority culture was a reality that I would have to overcome.
THE PRINCIPLE OF BOOKENDS
Bill Brogan was a white boy who lived on the other side of the neighborhood. Billy and I became good friends as we rode bikes and played sports together. Our interracial friendship was never much of an issue. Billy did not seem to mind that I was black. I didn't mind his being white.We just treated each other like buddies. I appreciated our friendship.
It wasn't until junior high school that we separated along the lines of race.We didn't mean to, but it seemed natural. There were Asians and Latinos at our school, but they were few in number.There were more blacks and whites, and the racial divide between them was wide. Billy and I would see each other on the bus, but by then we were quite segregated. We lost touch. Worse, negative racial talk among the groups seemed to escalate. Blacks would talk about honkies or crackers, and whites would talk about niggers or spooks. I remember chinks and spics were terms used of Asians and Latinos.
I do not have many pleasant memories of junior high school. Blacks and whites were at opposite ends of the spectrum. I call them the bookends.
In the school library we were taught how books are categorized. In my office today I have a number of books on my shelves.Whether in the school library or in my church office, the principle of bookends holds true, namely, that at the beginning and end of each row of books are two books between which all the others lean. No book can stand alone. All of the books rely on each other in order to stand straight in a row. The books on the ends provide the necessary tension to keep upright the books in the middle.
Likewise, in North America tension exists between blacks and whites. I consider blacks and whites as the bookends of the racial debate in America. Consider the middle books as the other races and ethnic groups in North American culture. If the books on the ends move closer, all of the books will come together.
But the middle books also matter. Although Asians, Latinos, and other groups have their own set of ethnic issues, they have an important contribution to make, much like a middle child who is caught between battling siblings. Sometimes the best thing a middle child can do is to stay out of the fight. At other times the presence and peacemaking of the middle child can bring healing. Latinos are a large presence on the American bookshelf of knowledge. Koreans, Chinese, Native Americans, and Arabs, to name a few, also are a presence. All of the middle books can inform our great country on how to appreciate its multicultural richness.
I firmly believe that the entire shelf of books has knowledge and perspectives to offer the attentive reader. Exposure to the various books on the shelf, or cultures on the street, can add value to one's life experience. Such exposure can come by what I call proactive intent or reactive demand. For example, I have hundreds of books in my library, many of which I have never fully read. However, when a crisis arises, I scour my shelves to search for as much knowledge in that subject as I can. Demand makes me become quite intentional. But notice that the driving force is reactive and not proactive. As neighborhoods, corporate institutions, and churches begin to deal with the changing demographics of our culture, wise learners are beginning to proactively investigate the multicultural resources within their reach. But regardless of whether we go to our shelves motivated by crisis or by Christ, we'll find them overflowing with information and perspectives that can help us move the bookends toward each other for the glory of God.
If only more churches would reach out to the various cultures around them with the wonderful news of Christ. Christian community can be found with each book on the shelf. The problem, as I see it now, is that there is 'white book Christianity' at one end and 'black book Christianity' on the other. Then you have Latino Christianity, Korean Christianity, and even Jewish Christianity somewhere in the middle. Can you imagine if the books were bound into one massive almanac of rich knowledge and multicultural expression? Although there would still be many volumes throughout the world, they would continually point to the same author and finisher of our faith, the Lord Jesus.
What would it be like if churches around the world were known as places of such great love that the boundaries of culture, class, and color were shattered? A place where there were no bookends;