Timing may not be everything in the publishing world – a few other factors are important too – but bad timing is never good for the launch of a new book.
In the forward to my just-published book, How to Become a Multicultural Church, Wesley Granberg-Michaelson points out that most western democracies are having a hard time right about now with multiculturalism, especially with what feels like a rising tide of refugees, immigrants, and others who are, well, different from the rest of us.
In the recent presidential election, Donald Trump successfully tapped into the fears and anxieties that many Americans have for those who are different from us, culturally, racially, and ethnically, those who seem to be changing the country we knew and loved.
So, into this climate of turmoil and fear, full of optimism and hope for the multicultural church, comes my new book, which is addressed to the church in North America, and which draws on my recent experience of an international church in the heart of the Europe, a church where at least two dozen nationalities are represented in worship each week.
Of course I am aware of the feelings and concerns that many Americans have at the moment. I have served churches throughout my career that were anything but multicultural. In spite of Martin Luther King Jr.’s challenge and indictment way back in 1968 that at 11:00 on Sunday morning when we stand to sing, “we stand in the most segregated hour of America,” the American church has been stubbornly resistant to diversity.
Nearly 50 years after that speech, churches look today pretty much the way they looked then – still segregated along racial and ethnic lines.
We’re “doing enough”
In fact, recent polls among American Christians reveal that an overwhelming number of church members believe their church is already “doing enough” to reach out to other cultures and racial groups.
So, you might wonder if this is a badly timed book? I don’t think so. And I’ll tell you why.
The communities and neighborhoods that surround our churches are already changing, some faster than others, but they are changing. The U.S. Census Bureau predicts that the country will reach a multicultural tipping point in the next few years, a tipping point at which whites will no longer be a majority. The question is no longer if, but when.
And therefore the question my book asks the North American church is this: What are we doing to reach out to the people around us, those who different from us, those who might become part of our churches, if only they felt a welcome there, if only they were to find a sense of belonging?
My own story
In How to Become a Multicultural Church, I tell my own story about a multicultural church and offer 10 ways that most churches will have to begin thinking differently. The book is my own sometimes-difficult, but ultimately-satisfying journey into the multicultural church. I have tried to be honest, and I have not hid my mistakes.
The journey was difficult at times, but I have never encountered anything in my nearly 40 years of ministry that was as deeply satisfying or inspiring as this work.
I think the timing couldn’t be better for this book. I hope you agree. Let me know what you think in your Amazon review.
(Note: I wrote something similar to this for my publisher’s blog. You can find EerdWord here. Also, you’ll notice that my blog’s homepage has undergone some much-needed dusting and cleaning. Thanks to church member Piotr Soluch and his friends at wiredot for their work. As for the lack of recent posts, I took a bit of a break to prepare for a major German exam and will once again be writing more frequently – in English, you’ll be glad to know, not German.)