Intercultural Church: Shared Learning from New Communities – A review

Programme Leader of the MA in African Christianity at Liverpool Hope University, theologian Dr Harvey C. Kwiyani, reviews this book by CTE's Ben Aldous with Idina Dunmore, and Mohan Seevaratnam...

The most common question that I hear people ask about intercultural churches is whether they really exist — whether there are any real-life examples of congregations where people of

different cultures consciously get to worship together and enjoy the gifts of their cultures.

Thanks to the three authors of this booklet, we have here three beautiful examples of Christian communities built intentionally around the gift of cultural diversity: The Table in Southall in London, The Community Supper in South Africa, and The Mosaic in London. These three congregations are brought to life in a way that helps readers understand intercultural churches better. Reading about their theological convictions and missional ethos opened for me a new way of thinking about the church in multicultural contexts.

These congregations demonstrate to us all that it is possible, even desirable wherever possible, for followers of Christ from different cultures to worship together, sharing the cultural gifts that God has given each of them. They show us that the Spirit of God loves diversity. In addition, while the booklet gives us the reasons behind the need for intercultural communities of faith, most of the time is devoted to discussing how these three communities manage to belong together. Of course, the three congregations are not models to be replicated. Rather, they are examples, rooted in specific contexts, demonstrating aspects of what intercultural church life in those contexts is like. They are brilliant examples that touch all key aspects of intercultural Christian worship in community — hospitality, generosity, fellowship — without which intercultural church is not possible. Undergirded by prayer and through the help of the Spirit of God, simple practices like people seeing each other, recognising each other’s human presence through dialogue, and sharing meals make it easier for us to belong together, interculturally.

I strongly recommend this book. 

Intercultural Church: Shared Learning from New Communities is published by Grove Books, Cambridge.