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Churches, Cultures and Leadership: A Practical Theology of Congregations and Ethnicities Paperback – May 8, 2011
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"As the American population continues to ring itself around metropolitan areas--with all of their growing diversity--, this book could become a welcome and most useful church resource, for many years to come." (George B. Thompson, Jr., Congregations, Volume 2 2011)
"Branson and Martinez take and interdisciplinary approach that integrates biblical and theological study with the disciplines of sociology, cultural anthropology and communications. The result is a rich blend of astute analysis with guidance for practical implementation of a deeper intercultural life for the church. Based on years of experience, highly engaging, greatly needed, Churches, Cultures and Leadership will benefit professors, students and church leaders. It may also be of interest to others working in diversity education." (www.sirreadalot.org, June 2011)
"This book provoked my mind theologically, historically, practically and spiritually. Branson and Martínez do a masterful job in communicating the complexities that conjoin church, cultures and leadership." (Dr. David A. Anderson, senior pastor, radio host, and author of Gracism)
"A book on the intercultural formation of congregations that integrates theology and cultural anthropology. This book is not a 'how to' but a humble and profoundly informative presentation that facilitates coming to the transparency needed for moving toward intercultural relations and ministry. Culture, language, worldview, theology and the unconscious assumptions that shape these are defined and examined so that we can understand our habits of ethnicity, class and social status. Awareness exercises are provided for facilitating conversations and the doing of theology. Leadership issues are then discussed in light of all of these aspects. The vignettes provided keep it real, and resources are provided with every chapter for further reading and viewing (movies). Finally, a book that's 'real' about these complex matters. Read it, share it and you will be ushered into lasting change." (Dr. Elizabeth Conde-Frazier, pastor, religious educator and dean of Esperanza College of Eastern University)
"Given the phenomenal demographic changes in our nation (e.g., cultural diversity of our communities and congregations), Churches, Cultures and Leadership is a very important and rich resource for engaging the multicultural challenges facing the church. Via an interdisciplinary approach (i.e., Scripture, practical theology, social anthropology, cultural studies, philosophical hermeneutics, leadership theory and communication) Branson and Martínez have gifted the church with an unique--the only one of its kind--work for practical and faithful intercultural life and for helping the church reflect the diversity of America." (Rev. Eldin Villafane, Ph.D., professor, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and author of Beyond Cheap Grace)
"Part biblical study, part handbook on ministry, for use in the classroom or in small groups, Churches, Cultures and Leadership is a foundational text that meets the need for a broad, interdisciplinary and substantive perspective on intercultural ministry. From years of experience, Mark Lau Branson and Juan Martínez offer unique insights and a range of practical resources. May it help us toward a church in the power of the Spirit!" (Mark R. Gornik and Maria Liu Wong, City Seminary of New York)
"Branson and Martínez discuss the issues of culture and ethnicity in the life of the church, and of leadership within the context of these issues, in a more thorough and yet more accessible and practical way than any other book I know. This is a must-read book for any who are really concerned for the mission of the church in the future that now opens before us." (Justo L. Gonzalez, author of The Story of Christianity)
"If I were teaching today, this would be my basic and required text. If I were a pastor, this would be my chief source for leading my congregation into the future. Since I am a congregant, I will read this to better understand how to function in a changing urban society. This is a timely offering, crafted out of field experience, classroom disciplines and deep personal commitments. Great stuff!" (William Pannell, Fuller Theological Seminary)
"Churches, Cultures & Leadership is one of the most significant books on the work of racial and cultural reconciliation yet published. Branson and Martínez have written a comprehensive work that integrates biblical research and social science analysis with highly practical suggestions for application in congregations and communities facing intercultural realities. They make the complexities of diversity understandable, accessible and even exciting. This thoughtful, engaging and substantive book by two practitioner scholars is a must-read for anyone interested in creating intercultural community." (Curtiss Paul DeYoung, professor of reconciliation studies, Bethel University)
—Justo L. Gonzalez, author of The Story of Christianity
"This book provoked my mind theologically, historically, practically and spiritually. Branson and Martínez do a masterful job in communicating the complexities that conjoin church, cultures and leadership." (Dr. David A. Anderson, senior pastor, radio host, and author of Gracism )
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Top Customer Reviews
For decades church growth gurus have taught conscientious pastors that one important key to the numerical growth of congregations is the "homogenous principle." That is, churches grow best when they focus on one type of person. "Like attracts like," goes the popular adage. Who can deny the truth of this? A church full of young families, for example, is undoubtedly attractive to many other young families. In social settings people feel more at ease when they can identify others like themselves.
In their new book, Churches, Cultures & Leadership, Fuller Theological Seminary professors Mark Lau Branson and Juan F. Martinez, challenge this conventional wisdom, arguing that church leaders need to take a fresh look the role of churches in God's reconciling mission.
"[C]entral to this book [is the question], what is the call of the gospel on churches? How can churches model gospel reconciliation and be agents of reconciliation and justice in our cities and in our nation? We believe that God's grace calls us beyond racism and ethnocentrism. The question is how to express the new reality of the gospel in ways that both celebrates our differences and draws us toward unity in Jesus Christ (17)."
They approach their subject with academic rigor, pastoral concern for the church as well as a deep awareness of their own ethnic narratives and experiences. They have both served many years in multi-cultural congregations and now co-teach seminary students.
The book aims at an ambitious target: to outline a practical theology of intercultural, congregational leadership. Any one of those themes would be challenging enough, but here, Branson and Martinez work at integration.Read more ›
Reconciliation, while theoretically straightforward, must be approached with regard to the incredible complexity of human society. Branson and Martinez present a healthy blend of intellectual rigor and spiritual fervency as essential components for successfully pursuing this goal. While they expose the need for and historical dearth of intercultural competency among Christian leaders, they repeatedly emphasize that “without God’s initiatives that transform us personally and as groups, our behaviors tend to be limited by cultural and human habits” (17). At points the book feels rushed to cover the remarkable breadth of subject matter, however they appear aware of their limitations and do well to integrate suggested resources for further deeper inquiry.
The practical theology cycle, church formation components and leadership triad provide an effective core for thoughtful, empowering, culturally sensitive leadership. The authors have provided us “majority-culture evangelicals [who] do not have the proper tools to understand the dynamic of race relations in the United States” (232) with a wealth of insight and resources.Read more ›
One of the most helpful aspects of this book was the fact that they outlined the practical theology process. Going through the steps of practical theology made me realize that this is how I often do my own theological thinking. In fact the steps that they outline seem to be the steps that most Christians take when theologizing in their day to day life. Most Christians begin by being informed about scripture at some level. Then they make observations about the world. They go back and think through their knowledge of Scriptures, Christian tradition, and personal beliefs, then they rethink the observations they have made in light of these sources. Although for most Christians this hermeneutic circle is usually not expressed explicitly in these steps, it tends to follow this general pattern.
Another helpful aspect of this book was Branson’s explanation of the leadership triad. It makes me wonder what churches would look like if they had interpretative, relational, and implemental leaders. Many churches look to one type of leader, creating in imbalance in leadership. Churches would be greatly served if they somehow incorporated these three types of leadership. (On a side note JR Woodward has recently written an excellent book titled Creating a Missional Culture in which he advocates for a polycentric model of leadership based around the 5 “equippers” of Ephesians 4. It seems as though more and more church leadership experts are advocating for a communal form of leadership rather than and individualistic hierarchical understanding of leadership.)
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great read for leaders desiring multi-ethnic, multicultural groups.Published 5 months ago by Corey L. Brown
Very useful in helping to gain a better understanding of my classes.Published 16 months ago by Lydia M. Moore
An outstanding book with insights about culture and practical theology and also helps in understanding your congregation and the people that you working with.Published 19 months ago by Donald R. Kelly
Much effort went into constructing this book. Branson & Martinez seek to address cultural diversity in the context of local churches. Read morePublished 22 months ago by Cloud Strife