Additional Resources

Books can be a great way to dive more into the topic of multiculturalism. Here is a list of books that I think are worth checking out. Byron at Hearts and Minds can most likely find these for you.

Breckenridge, James and Lillian. What Color is Your God? Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1995

Brueggemann, Walter. The Prophetic Imagination. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1978.

Christerson, Brad. Edwards, Korie l. Emerson, Michael O. Against All Odds. New York: New York University Press, 2005.

Cone, James. The Spirituals and the Blues. Maryknoll: Orbis, 1972

Dawson, John. Healing Americas Wounds. Ventura: Regal, 1977

Dolce, Eric. Jesus & Jigga. Crown Oak Press, 2007 (CCO Staff)

Escobar, Samuel. The New Global Mission. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2003

Elmer, Duane. Cross-Cultural Conflict. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993

Emerson, Michael and Smith, Christian. Divided by Faith. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000

Gibbons, Dave. The Monkey and the Fish. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009

Keller, Tim. Generous Justice. London: Hodder and Stoughton, 2010

McNeil, Brenda Salter and Richardson, Rick. The Heart of Racial Justice. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2004

Mitchell, Ron. Organic Faith. Chicago: Cornerstone Press, 1998.

Nouwen, Henri. In the Name of Jesus. New York: Crossroad, 1989.

Okholm, Dennis, Ed. The Gospel in Black and White. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1997

Pannel, William. The Coming Race Wars. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993

Perkins, Spencer and Rice, Chris. More Than Equals. Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 1993

Rah, Soong-Chan. The Next Evangelicalism. Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2009, Many Colors. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2010

Saccone, Steve. Relational Intelligence. San Francisco: Josser-Bass, 2009

Sittser, Gerald. Loving Across Our Differences. Downers Grove: InterVarstiy, 1994.

Volf, Miroslav. Exclusion and Embrace, A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness and Reconciliation. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996.

West, Cornell. Race Matters. New York: Vintage, 1993

Growing in cultural righteousness – having right relationships in a diverse world

Are Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream and the Kingdom vision of Revelation 7:9 being seen on our college campuses and in the CCO culture?  Is crossing the cultural divide seen as an optional goal or pursued as a biblical mandate?  As Christians we are called to be rightly related to God and to one another beyond a polite courtesy and a political correctness towards those different than us.

Biblical texts to study and discuss:

Deuteronomy 10:6-9, Amos 5:21-24, Micah 6:8, John 17:20-23, Acts 10:1-48, 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, Galatians 3:26-29, Ephesians 2:11-22, 4:1-6, Revelation 5:1-10, 7: 9

What We Believe About Cultural Diversity

Believing that God’s character shows no partiality, that God’s coming Kingdom is multi-ethnic, that God’s great commission is to disciple all nations, that Jesus broke down the dividing walls of hostility and called His disciples to unity, we have committed to following the truth of the gospel by equipping our partners, staff and students concerning the issues of racial justice, reconciliation and reaching the growing cultural diversity among our students while seeking that diversity in our staff and partnerships.

A Primer for Cross-Cultural Ministry


Race (n) – a family, tribe, people or nation belonging to the same stock with shared biological and genetic traits

Ethnicity (n) – quality or affiliation of large groups of people classed according to common racial, national, tribal, religious, or linguistic origin with shared cultural traits and history

Culture (n) – the beliefs, social forms and material traits of a racial, religious or social group

Richard Niebuhr in Christ and Culture – “the artificial, secondary environment superimposed on the natural” – Soong-Chan Rah in Many Colors – “the software of our mind that distinguishes the members of one group of people from others” – Eric Law in The Wolf Shall Dwell With the Lamb – “External culture is the conscious part of culture.  It is the part that we can see, taste and hear.  It consists of beliefs and values that are learned and can be easily changed.  The internal part consists of unconscious beliefs, through patterns, values and myths that affect everything we do and see.  It is implicitly learned and very hard to change.”

(See blog post Common Ground of Crossing Culture at

One of the primary and most important ways Christians can embody the gospel and make the Kingdom of God visible is to be connected with those who are racially, ethnically and culturally different than us.  The main objection that post-modern people have with Christianity is the way in which we exclude both other Christians and non-believers who are outside our dominate group.  Consequently we must be united with ‘outsider’ Christians and embrace ‘outsider’ non-Christians.  Otherwise we join Peter who was “not acting according to the gospel.” (Gal. 2:4)

Unity with Outsider Christians:

In Ephesians 2:19-22, Paul is teaching us that our relationship to each other in Christ is to be stronger than our relationship to other members of our racial, ethnic and cultural group.  We are not primarily Anglo, African American, Asian or Latino, nor are we primarily White Presbyterians or Black Baptists, suburbanites or urbanites, democrats or republicans.  We are citizens of Jesus’ Kingdom, children of God’s family, and stones of the Holy Temple.  Notice how Paul intensifies our identity and draws us closer to the triune God.  We are citizens through a social contract with Jesus our King, we are family through a genetic code with God our Father, and we are living stones though a bonding cement with our Holy Spirit.  These metaphors all contribute to the picture of our new humanity – a new way of being human beings together.

Some reflective applications:

  • We must increase our multi- racial, ethnic and cultural Christian friendships – people who we would otherwise not take the time to know because of our differences.
  • If we are to become a citizen, a child, a living stone, a picture of our new humanity, we must assess why we are divided.  The “dividing wall of hostility” is too often our own gifts and goodness that make us feel superior to others and not our cultural differences.
  • According to 1 Peter 2:9-10 there are only two nations or peoples in the world – believers and non-believers.  Ask ourselves, would we rather have our child marry a non-Christian of the same race or a Christian of a different race.
  • Every culture has a mix of grace and sin and we must be willing to allow other cultures to help us identify our cultural idols while embracing cultural aspects that glorify God.

(See Cultural Idolatry at

  • If we are members of the dominate culture we have not had to learn about non-Anglos in order to survive yet they have had to learn our culture.  So don’t be too quick to deny our racism or prejudices.  Non-Anglo groups must guard against feelings of superiority over the dominant culture because we haven’t suffered or understood the issues the way you have.  Humility is always the best way to proceed.
  • We must work towards multi-racial, ethnic and cultural campus fellowships.  While there is no exact definition, Manuel Ortiz says that to be considered multi-ethnic there should be the presence of at least two distinct groups with at least a one-third representation by one of the groups and the representation of each group in leadership.

(Note: We acknowledge the challenge of balancing too much or too little emphasis on the various cultural distinctive of each group – too much brings the danger of idolatry and too little makes it difficult to reach the outsiders. Praise God for spiritual wisdom.

There are also practical limitations based on the level of diversity at college campuses but it should not negate our efforts at cross-cultural ministry.)

  • A multi-racial, ethnic, and cultural fellowship is not just the result of communicating and living out the gospel it is a significant way to communicate and live out the gospel.
  • Unity in diversity helps to strengthen our identity in Christ.  An over emphasis on our membership in a special group of people becomes a form of work’s righteousness.  As we overcome our racial prejudices and cultural preferences we become less driven professionally, more open to different political views, and less shaken by relational and social changes.  Richard Lovelace wrote that we become ‘free … to wear our culture like a comfortable suit of clothes…shifting to other cultural clothing temporarily if we wish to do so… admiring and appreciating the differing expressions of Christ shining out through other cultures.” As Paul suggests we become free to “find common ground with everyone so that we might bring them to Christ”.  (1 Cor. 9:19-23)

(See From Babel to Pentecost at

Embracing Outsider Non-Christians:

Jesus said, “If you are only kind to your brothers, how are you different than anyone else?”  (Mt. 5:47).  Jesus is teaching us that we show the uniqueness of our Christian faith when we follow His lead to embrace the moral and spiritual outsider.  Miroslav Volf sees the cross as the theological basis for embracing people across the divide of cultures and beliefs – a “divine self-donation” that is willing to give ourselves and make space for sinful outsiders.  He goes on to clarify that “while the will to embrace is indiscriminate, the embrace itself is conditional”.

Jesus taught in His parable on the wheat and weeds (Mt. 13: 24-30) that although the enemy sowed the weeds they must grow up together for in pulling up the weeds, the wheat may get hurt.  We are not capable of rooting out evil without doing evil ourselves.  Augustine said it this way, “In heart be always separated from the bad, in body be united with them for a time, only with caution”.   This parable guards us from forming exclusive communities and schisms.

Jesus also said, “The prostitutes and the tax collectors are entering the Kingdom of God before you”. (Mt. 21:31).  Embracing outsider non-Christians demonstrates the gospel of grace and shows that the gospel is inclusive of all those who are often considered excluded.

Some reflective applications:

  • We embrace the outsider non-Christian with respect.  Grace means they might even be a better person than us.
  • We embrace the outsider non-Christian with courage.  Grace means their potential rejection of us is not that scary.
  • We embrace the outsider non-Christian with hope.  Grace means that no one is beyond God’s mercy.


Using our definitions, cross-cultural ministry involves uniting with outsider Christians and embracing outsider non-Christians on our college campuses.  Outsiders should be seen in the broadest of cultural terms without overlooking race and ethnicity.  Partnering with a white, theologically different campus ministry is included but does not justify not uniting with a Latino ministry, or embracing the Black Student Union.  Including an Asian Christian in our twelve is important but so is working with Black students for racial justice whenever possible. Discipling an international student is cross-cultural ministry but so is embracing the gay student or the atheist with the gospel of grace.   Working to get outsider Christians in our twelve should be balanced with broader efforts to demonstrate the gospel and make visible God’s Kingdom to outsider non-Christians.  In every way possible our campus cross-cultural ministry should model the coming unity of all races, ethnicities and cultures in Christ – reaching out to every people group, celebrating our diversity, and accepting one another as Christ accepted us.

The Spectrum of Multiethnic Ministry

This ministry is dedicated to meeting the needs of one specific racial and ethnic minority group. (This group can have some diversity, but not central to the design of the ministry.)

Key Values:
1. Passion for seeing the gospel advance within a specific racial and ethnic minority group.

2. Knowledge of important issues and values affecting a specific group, their history and a sense of their future.

This ministry is committed to exploring the experiences of people of other cultures for the purpose of gaining a greater understanding of their socio-cultural context and a better ability to relate to them individually and collectively.

Key Values:
1. An openness that allows past held stereotypes and misperceptions to be challenged.

2. A desire for knowledge of important issues and values affecting people of other cultures.

This ministry is committed to building bridges to populations that are not represented (or are under-represented) in their own ranks. This ministry begins to have dialogue with individuals and representative organizations as well as opening the door to experiential learning.

Key Values:
1. A willingness to be uncomfortable.

2. A sense of adventure.

This ministry seeks to integrate individuals of differing ethnic and racial make-ups into an existing ministry for the purpose of fellowship, friendship and shared learning.

Key Values:
1. Persistence!

2. Intentional relationship development.

This ministry sees racial and ethnic diversity as central to accomplishing its mission and seeks to develop leaders of all races and ethnicities (or at least the ethnicities present) who are committed to cross-cultural ministry and living, and also to actively address social injustices experienced by specific racial and ethnic groups.

Key Values:
1. Trust and ongoing open and purposeful dialogue.

2. A commitment to social action.

Horatio Alger Exercise

The purpose of this exercise is to teach about advantages and disadvantages in our lives and the effects they have on opportunities and successes. This exercise can also be used to enhance understanding about affirmative action.

Many people believe that the reason a person is poor or rich is principally related to a person’s character. (Poor people are lazy and stupid. Rich people get rich because they are smart and work hard.) This belief in the equality of people in the U.S. discounts or ignores the fact that most white people have many advantages and opportunities which they take for granted. Because of this system of white privilege which was begun centuries ago, United States citizens are not playing on the proverbial level playing field. One of the underlying beliefs that is fostered by the principle of individualism taught in the United States is that, since the percentage of African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans in poverty is much greater than for white ethnic groups, people of color deserve their fate. They are blamed for their poverty and victimization. It is quite common in prejudice awareness workshops for white people to assume they have started on a level playing field with people of color. They believe, as in the story of Horatio Alger, that one’s own abilities and superiority earn wealth and success. Yet unemployment is so much a part of the economic system in which we live, as well as competition for jobs, education, benefits and limited resources, that “success” often depends on external factors. These external factors, such as informal rules, often provide whites with competitive advantages.

One should not misrepresent the importance of taking responsibility for one’s own life and the importance of struggling for a better world and a better life. Simply recognizing oneself as a victim is often not productive. However, it is important to understand that for people of color to blame themselves and/or be blamed by whites for their victim status fosters a sense of inferiority and powerlessness which can lead to hopelessness.[1]

1 “Teaching Whites About Racism”


Materials (for facilitator only): copy of Horatio Alger questions

Time: 45-60 minutes

Space: a room large enough to accommodate the participants standing shoulder to shoulder in a single line.

Number of Participants: any number (restricted by room size)

Age level: adult


1. Instruct participants to form a line in the middle of the room and hold the hand of the person next to them.

2. Indicate that you will read a list. As a category is identified to which a participant belongs, he or she will either step forward or backward or stay stationary as appropriate.

3. Instruct participants to keep holding hands until it is no longer possible. When a person gets too far away, participants will have to let go of each others’ hands.

a. All those whose parent or parents have completed college take one step forward.

b. All those who have a parent who never completed high school, take one step back.

c. All those who went to a private school, take one step forward.

d. All those who were raised in a community where the vast majority of police, politicians and government workers were not of their ethnic or racial group, take one step back.

e. All those who commonly see people of their race or ethnicity as heroes or heroines on television programs or movies, take one step forward.

f. All those who commonly see people of their race or ethnicity on television or movies in roles you consider degrading, take one step back.

g. All those who come from racial or ethnic groups who have ever been considered by scientists as “inferior,” take one step back.

h. All those who have ever been harassed by the police because of their ethnicity or race, take one step back.

i. All those whose ancestors were slaves in the U.S., take one step back.

j. All those who have ancestors who, because of their race, religion or ethnicity, were denied voting rights, citizenship, had to drink from separate water fountains, ride in the back of the bus, use separate entrances to buildings, separate restrooms, were denied access to clubs, jobs, restaurants, were precluded from buying property in certain neighborhoods, take one step back.

k. All those who can walk into a store without having clerks assume by your appearance that you are going to steal something, take one step forward.

l. All those whose parents spoke English as a first language, take one step forward.

m. All those who have never been told that someone hated them because of their race, ethnic group, religion or sexual orientation, take one step forward.

n. All those who have read about history of their ancestors in history books provided by their K-12 school, take one step forward.

o. All those who have ever been denied a job because of their race, ethnic group, religion or gender, take one step backward .

p. All those who were raised in homes with libraries of at least children’s books and some adult books, take one step forward.

q. All those who were raised in homes where the newspaper was read daily, take one step forward.

r. All those who have vacationed in a foreign country, take one step forward.

s. All those who have been taken to art galleries or museums by their parents, take one step forward.

t. All those who have an immediate family member who is a doctor or lawyer, take one step forward.

u. All those who went to or currently attend a school where the majority of the teachers are of your same race or ethnicity, take one step forward.

v. All those whose ancestors lost a war with the U.S. and whose land was made part of the U.S., take one step back.

4. Say: “Now from wherever you are in the room, race to the wall you are facing when I say “go.”

5. In debriefing this exercise, the facilitator can elicit responses from the group about the following questions:

a. What did this exercise teach you?

b. What is the point of this activity?

c. What does this have to do with prejudice?

d. Do we all start off equal in life?

e. What does holding hands, then becoming so distant that you can’t hold hands anymore, represent?

f. Is it possible to be the fastest runner and still lose the race?

Suggestions for a Cross-Racial/Ethnic Lifestyle

1. Make prayer your #1 strategic action—godly internal transformation never takes place without it. Make sure your prayers are first and foremost for YOUR transformation, NOT for your ministry to those other people.

2. Take your education into your own hands—begin reading books, magazines, journals and so on that deal with current events from the perspective of people of different races, ethnicities, cultures and nationalities; do the same with Web sites, movies, newspapers, music, public forums, conferences, seminars and personal conversations.

3. Seek out someone from whom to learn—books and things can be a slick diversion from true transformation which God usually directs through interaction with a person, like iron sharpening iron. Relationships are the ultimate objective, not merely knowledge; take the posture of “learner” and “follower,” not “teacher” and “leader.”

4. “Submit” yourself to the hands of service providers of a different race and/or ethnicity than your own. Choose a black doctor for a check up, an Asian dentist for a cleaning, a Latino auto mechanic for a tune-up, and so on. Many racial/ethnic minorities in this society don’t have a choice but to submit their intimate, private “concerns” to white male and female gynecologists, heart specialists, urologists, opticians, pediatricians, attorneys, mechanics, mammogram specialists—often times desiring otherwise. For many women (and their husbands), the prospect of an examining male specialist is very uncomfortable—imagine the added factor of race and racial distrust in the mix. Yet many minorities learn to trust whites in such vulnerable matters. There’s a world of insight to gain from whites voluntarily doing the same (although relatively unheard of).

5. Be willing to put yourself in “minority-status” situations. Go to places, events, activities and functions and/or become a member or regular visitor somewhere where you can be exposed to the cultural and social nuances of people of another race and/or ethnicity. Often, if we do make such commitments, we’ll do so with such a large group of “our own” so as to offset any feelings of being socially and culturally marginalized, like hiding in a group within a group. Oftentimes, minorities such as blacks or Asians can’t hide even if they try; their conspicuous features make them targets for any staring or glaring looks when in different social contexts. This can be a great learning experience if you stick it out as an ongoing practice, not just a momentary commitment like going on a two-week mission trip abroad. Often for whites, this is such an unfamiliar experience in itself, let alone doing so for an indefinitely long period of time. Great insight can be gained into and sympathy for the psyche of being a racial/ethnic minority.

6. Keep a detailed journal of your experiences, feelings and lessons—determine which experiences you’ll establish as ongoing lifestyle practices. Remember, these experiments aren’t for you to complete a project “on” someone else, nor is it merely to gain an impressive body of knowledge or an impressive portfolio of experiences to impress your “culturally illiterate” friends. This is solely for the purpose of transforming your life. Allow your mentor to counsel you and pray with you about your decisions