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Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church Paperback – September 1, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews



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, and director of the Urbana student missions conference


"From experiential knowledge and with anthropological precision, Soong-Chan Rah has provided a thorough explanation of cross-cultural competence, one of the core commitments required for effective multi-ethnic ministry. Many Colors will accelerate the coming integration of the local church and is therefore a much-welcomed, greatly needed resource for those of us pursuing the dream."

Dr. Mark DeYmaz, Founding pastor of Mosaic Church (AR) and author of Ethnic Blends: Mixing Diversity into Your Local Church

"Many Colors is a desperately needed resource for those of us who love Christ and are engaged as agents of change and justice in our society, where a new mestizo reality is becoming the norm and not an exception."

Noel Castellanos
CEO, Christian Community Development Association

"In recent years, many leaders have been inspired with a vision for multiethnic ministry. But while their spirits may be willing, their flesh is often weak. Many simply lack the knowledge and 'cultural intelligence' to cultivate multiethnic Christian communities, and the results are churches with a veneer of diversity without any real change. This is why Dr. Rah's book is so vital. He offers a framework for understanding culture that is rooted in Scripture, history, and the practical realities of pastoral ministry. Many Colors is a must-read for anyone sensing a call into multiethnic ministry."

Skye Jethani, author of The Divine Commodity: Discovering a Faith Beyond Consumer Christianity


"Dr. Rah has the ability to stretch your faith while stretching your mind. Gratefully, this book offers no simplistic answers but in being honest about the challenges also gives us honest hope. Society questions whether real unity is possible. In Christ, the Church can show that it is; this book helps point the way with insight, dimensionality, and challenge."

Gary Walter, president of the Evangelical Covenant Church

"Using the incredible power of story, Dr. Soong-Chan Rah weaves together a tapestry that gives a clear picture of what “cultural intelligence” requires. This book takes you on a reconciliation journey that will move you from simplistic formulas to substantive solutions that produce lasting systemic and social change."

Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, President, Salter McNeil & Associates, LLC

About the Author

Soong-Chan Rah is Milton B. Engebretson Associate Professor of Church Growth and Evangelism at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, IL. He is the author of The Next Evangelicalism (IVP Books, 2009). Prior to coming to North Park, Soong-Chan was the founding and senior pastor of Cambridge Community Fellowship Church, a multi-ethnic, urban church in Cambridge, MA. Soong-Chan has a B.A. from Columbia University, a M.Div. from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, a Th.M. from Harvard University, and a D.Min. from Gordon-Conwell. Soong-Chan serves on the boards of Sojourners, the Christian Community Development Association, World Vision, and the Catalyst Leadership Center. He lives in Chicago with his wife Sue, a special educator and his two children, Annah and Elijah.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Moody Publishers; New Edition edition (September 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0802450482
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802450487
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #238,115 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I anticipated and had hope that Dr Rah would do a follow-up to his The Next Evangelicalism which I also did a review for. TNE, I would say was more of a prophetic critique of 21st centuryWestern Christianity, and there were many quotes I could use in the future that I believe ring so true, particularly Rah's analysis of the emerging church. In comparison, Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church was filled less so with observation and much more so with scholar/pastoral instruction.

The text is divided into three sections, and since I do not want to give any spoilers, since I would highly recommend this book for anyone interested in doing multi-cultural & cross-cultural ministry, I will go through a few sections I found interesting.

In part 1, Rah goes over traditional Christian approaches to culture, even mentioning Niebuhr`s classic Christ & Culture (page 21). He then sets forth to argue the importance of remembering all of history, and not just the triumphant good stories that we like to hear, but also the narratives of sadness and oppression. In chapter 3, Rah articulates a theological vision of culture, where God's mission in the world is taken seriously and redeems even the "pagan" traditions of Christmas. Rah argues that one cannot appropriately appreciate culture as something that is just a human construct; we need to see both the sociological and theological merits of each culture, which in his view starts with the doctrine of the Imago Dei. This I believe is a necessary statement to differentiate Rah's approach to culture and an anthropologist's or a sociologist's. Without the notion of God gifting all of humanity to be creators of culture, equally and beautifully, we will fall into the trap of sayings like West is Best, East is least.
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Format: Paperback
Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church is an excellent follow-up to The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity (TNE) and a welcomed companion. The two books make up a invaluable resource for contemporary disciples of Jesus Christ in the West. While TNE exposes the areas in which Western evangelicalism has been co-opted by Western cultural forces in contrast to biblical imperatives, Many Colors reveals God's beautiful kingdom, with its diverse cultural makeup. Many Colors answers the questions "What is culture and how should contemporary Western evangelicals engage it?" Many Colors also applies the disciple of cultural intelligence, now common among international businesses, to the church in the West--a much-needed improvement. Rah's work is vitally important to the American church and I am personally thankful for this book.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Important subject and good pastoral perspective. i don't know whether the church can get past our cultural blinders to fulfill Paul's dream expressed in Galatians, but this book makes an attempt to address the challenge of the multi-culture church. It is definitely for a North American audience, and one could wish for a more universal approach to a true cross-cultural perspective to the community of the redeemed, but the second culture experience of the author certainly helps. Worth the read and serious discussion for church leaders in every Christian community.
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Format: Paperback
Although I grew up singing "Jesus loves the little children, red and yellow, black and white" I can't say that my context gave me much opportunity to practice this same love for the "other." Or perhaps the problem was that I didn't see the opportunities. If you suffer such "color blindness," this book by Soong-Chan Rah can help correct your vision. Framed within a kingdom-driven-, holistic gospel-, missional perspective, the author explores culture in its good and fallen aspects with a call to engage it responsibly. He provides a chapter on understanding our current North American cultural landscape in light of political, social, and ecclesial histories, answering how we got to where we are. His chapter on the spectrum of expressions within a culture is quite helpful as he examines differences such as: individual vs. group, guilt vs. shame, equality vs. hierarchy, direct vs. indirect, and task vs. relationship. Whether you aspire to plant a multi-ethnic church, or minister cross-culturally within a North American context or abroad, this book challenges you to examine aspects of power, dominant-culture privilege, and systems with new lenses. The books gives practical means too for hospitality and storytelling (under-the-radar evangelism) that easly translate from culture to culture. In contrast to McGavran's application of the homogeneous unit principle, Soong-Chan Rah advocates that despite numerous obstacles in society and human nature, God calls local churches to be a diverse community that truly represents the kingdom of God. I am glad to have required this book for my course Evangelism and Missions in an Urban Setting.
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Format: Paperback
I just finished hosting a church small group that used this book. Many Colors artfully navigates culture and cultural intelligence to avoid the politicization of the topic while focusing on storytelling as the mode of conversation to avoid the abstract arguments prone to generalizing the subtleties of culture. As one of the reviewers stated, culture is not synonymous with ethnicity or nationality, and I believe Many Colors offers a tremendous starting point for addressing the complexities of cross-cultural interactions in any multi-ethnic context within the American church. So many people find themselves at the intersection of various familial and societal cultures, and Many Colors offers a great paradigm of 5-dimensions cultural expressions to put words to their experience. Moreover, as a white leader in a multi-ethnic context, I found the book empowering to both non-white and white participants, allowing my co-leaders and I to simultaneously discuss "white privilege" and the need to empower voices not represented by dominant culture while discovering God's desire to heal white Americans from the phenomenon of "white guilt" through discovering a love for their own culture and the cultures of their friends and neighbors. There are some difficult conversions to be had around culture and race in America, but Dr Rah's approach offers an inviting first step.
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