The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity

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2010 Golden Canon Leadership Book Award winner!

The future is now. Philip Jenkins has chronicled how the next Christendom has shifted away from the Western church toward the global South and East. Likewise, changing demographics mean that North American society will accelerate its diversity in terms of race, ethnicity and culture. But evangelicalism has long been held captive by its predominantly white cultural identity and history.

In this book professor and pastor Soong-Chan Rah calls the North American church to escape its captivity to Western cultural trappings and to embrace a new evangelicalism that is diverse and multiethnic. Rah brings keen analysis to the limitations of American Christianity and shows how captivity to Western individualism and materialism has played itself out in megachurches and emergent churches alike. Many white churches are in crisis and ill-equipped to minister to new cultural realities, but immigrant, ethnic and multiethnic churches are succeeding and flourishing.

This prophetic report casts a vision for a dynamic evangelicalism that fully embodies the cultural realities of the twenty-first century. Spiritual renewal is happening within the North American church, from corners and margins not always noticed by those in the center. Come, discover the vitality of the next evangelicalism.

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Editorial Reviews

Jim Wallis
"Soong-Chan Rah doesn't just write about the changing face of evangelicalism; he is leading it. As a church planter, pastor, professor and scholar Rah is actively creating a path forward for Christians who have been caught in the traps of individualism, consumerism and racism. With real-world experience and depth of wisdom he paints a picture of church done differently and points to models, leaders and communities that are already blazing this trail. For anyone who wants to understand the future of the church in this new century, The Next Evangelicalism is a must-read."
Russell Jeung
"Soong-Chan Rah's The Next Evangelicalism is a book of amazing grace. It shows the American church how desperately blinded we are by Western colonization and white privilege. But more significantly, it helps us see God's liberation from this captivity, and how he's using churches of the marginalized to set us free."
Curtiss Paul DeYoung
"In this manifesto for change, Soong-Chan Rah calls for the church to break free from limiting and exclusive paradigms and fully embrace the dramatic cultural diversity that is rapidly defining the twenty-first century in the United States. His powerfully persuasive pen engages and challenges the reader in ways that radically transform how church life is to be understood, shaped and lived. Everyone who cares about the Christian church in the United States needs to read The Next Evangelicalism. This book ignites hope for reconciliation in the world through the church."
Scot McKnight
"The Next Evangelicalism reminds me of July 4: there's plenty to celebrate and there are fireworks going off in all directions! But I kept asking myself: What will this next evangelicalism celebration do to us? Will we stay the same or will we follow the leading of God's Spirit into the next era of evangelicalism, one that will surely be unlike what we have now? Sit down, open this book, and get ready to duck!"
F. Albert Tizon
"Behold, a prophet walks among us. With personal narrative, pastoral experience and excellent research, Soong-Chan Rah exegetes the present and calls the church to be released from its white, Western cultural captivity. After demonstrating how indeed the church is stuck, Rah draws from the experiences of African American, Native American, immigrant and second-generation churches to free the church so that it can become the multicultural and holistic community that God has called it to be. The Next Evangelicalism is biblical prophecy at its best, summoning God's people to reconciliation, justice and faithfulness. As such, it is guaranteed at once to disturb, challenge, encourage and inspire."
Noel Castellanos
"Soong-Chan Rah has a strong and prophetic message for the entire church regarding the changing face of Christianity in the United States and throughout the world. If we are going to be faithful to God's vision of extending his love to the entire planet, it will take leaders from every ethnic group fully empowered to lead. In The Next Evangelicalism Soong-Chan provides us with important insights to help us see this diverse kingdom vision become a reality."
Ken Fong
"Writing with uncanny nerve and refreshing candor, Rah 'captured' me from his first paragraph. As a fellow liminal Asian American evangelical pastor and leader, I too have been beckoned to join elite circles of white, wonderful Christians, only to wonder if they really valued my unique point of view or merely my appearance. Rather than just describing the problem, Rah offers a biblically infused, socioculturally informed take on the future of evangelicalism that deserves to be taken seriously by us all."
John R. Franke
"In this important book Soong-Chan Rah provides a compelling case that the dominant forms ofNorth American Christianity have become enslaved by the patterns and assumptions of Western culture to the detriment of the gospel. Rah seeks to liberate the church from this cultural captivity by inviting readers to learn from the wisdom ofcommunities that have generally been marginalized by the traditional church. The future of Christian witness in North America depends on listening to these voices and learning the lessons they have to teach."
John Perkins
"Powerful, prophetic words. Rah's message about cultural captivity is one we need to hear and to share with others."
Rev. Eldin Villafañe
"A confrontational and provocative book in the best biblical sense! Soong-Chan Rah's prophetic text is a must-read! Given the cultural captivity and decline of the Western ('white') church, and the reality of nonwhite global Christianity, this important book provides us both a serious biblical, theological, and sociocultural analysis and critique of the white church, while giving us a positive vision and models of the ever increasing nonwhite and ethnic church in America that we'd do well to emulate."
Edward Gilbreath
"Equal parts pastor, teacher and activist, Soong-Chan Rah sounds a loving but prophetic call for reform and reconciliation. His passion should not be misconstrued as condemnation. Rather, this book is about family business. May the evangelical community listen and grow."
Philip Jenkins
"Soong-Chan Rah explores the impact of ethnic and geographic shifts on the present and future state of evangelicalism. He gives us fair warning that parts of his heartfelt book are 'intended to provoke,' and they will. But that doesn't stop his book from being timely, thoughtful and very rewarding."
Harvey Cox
"One of the most important changes now going on in American--and indeed world--religion is the profound transformation of evangelicalism, a movement which encompasses hundreds of millions of people. This book is the best and most balanced treatment of the subject now available. It is well researched, clearly written and comprehensive."
Dave Gibbons
"It's already shifted! America will soon be a minority-majority. Already some cities are. Who will lead the way into the future? You may be surprised to know there is a rising group of third-culture, liminal citizens forging paths of influence in every sector of society. Soong-Chan Rah in his book The Next Evangelicalism powerfully provokes us to take a hard look at our sins against the immigrants and this rising tide of the next generation of Christ-followers representing many tribes and nations."
Reverend - Eldin Villafane
"A confrontational and provocative book in the best biblical sense! Soong-Chan Rah's prophetic text is a must-read! Given the cultural captivity and decline of the Western ('white') church, and the reality of nonwhite global Christianity, this important book provides us both a serious biblical, theological, and sociocultural analysis and critique of the white church, while giving us a positive vision and models of the ever increasing nonwhite and ethnic church in America that we'd do well to emulate."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780830833603
  • Publisher: InterVarsity Press
  • Publication date: 3/25/2009
  • Pages: 228
  • Sales rank: 648,397
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Soong-Chan Rah (D.Min., Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) is Milton B. Engebretson Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Illinois. Previously he was founding pastor of Cambridge Community Fellowship Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Rah has been a part of four different church-planting efforts, and served with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in Boston. He also serves on the boards of Sojourners and the Catalyst Leadership Center. He is a frequent conference speaker and contributed to Growing Healthy Asian American Churches (InterVarsity Press).

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Table of Contents

Introduction Part One: The Western, White Cultural Captivity of the Church
1: Individualism: The Heartbeat of Western, White Cultural Captivity
2: Consumerism and Materialism: The Soul of Western, White Cultural Captivity
3: Racism: The Residue of Western, White Cultural CaptivityPart Two: The Pervasiveness of the White Captivity of the Church
4: The Church Growth Movement and Megachurches
5: The Emergent Church's Captivity to Western, White Culture
6: The Cultural Imperialism of the White Captivity of the Church Part Three: Freedom from the White Captivity of the Church
7: Suffering and Celebration: Learning from the African American and Native American Communities
8: Holistic Evangelism: Learning from the Immigrant Church
9: A Multicultural Worldview: Learning from the Second Generation
Recommended Reading
Name and Subject Index
Scripture Index
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