faculty authors reflect

The globalized world of the 21st century is unprecedentedly multicultural, and churches and schools of theology are no exception. In the 60 years since Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. bemoaned on “Meet the Press” that “11 o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in Christian America,” the demographics of American congregations have slowly changed; they are no longer as sharply divided by race and ethnicity as they once were.

Today, the Euro-American churches that were created by national groups of early settlers have largely disappeared into mainstream society, and many churchgoers worship together among an ethically and culturally diverse group of believers. Even among newer immigrant groups, many churchgoers—at least in the second and third generation of immigrants — seek out worship communities that are culturally inclusive. 

Christian Preaching and Worship in Multicultural Contexts: A Practical Theological Approach, by Eunjoo Mary Kim (Liturgical Press, 2017, 227 pp., $30).

Yet, even though we are living in a multicultural world, most churches have nevertheless retained conventional, monocultural preaching and worship styles, in part because they have neither been trained in nor exposed to the celebration of the Christian message from multicultural perspectives. Similarly, many theological schools have maintained a monocultural approach in their curricula, with preaching and worship courses focusing narrowly on churches of European heritage. 

A monocultural approach to theological education is neither appropriate nor effective, especially considering that there are students from various cultural and religious backgrounds in most schools, and the congregations in which students will serve — and indeed in which they are already serving — no longer exist within a racially and ethnically monolithic culture. It is, therefore, an urgent mandate that theological schools reform their educational practices to make the ministry of preaching and worship more relevant to multicultural contexts.

My newest book, Christian Preaching and Worship in Multicultural Contexts: A Practical Theological Approach, is an attempt to address this mandate. My primary goal in the book is to propose a homiletical and liturgical paradigm appropriate to the multicultural world of the 21st century by reimagining Christian theology and ministry from a multicultural perspective. I suggest that culture is not a unified entity, but a constantly changing pattern, with each culture influencing others. This paradigm encourages preachers and worship leaders to develop cultural sensitivity and multicultural competency, and to take steps to engage people of all races and cultures.

As a product of practical theological reflection, this book relates theory to practice in an evolving spiral movement toward the best practice of Christian preaching and worship. It incorporates interdisciplinary, ecumenical, and interreligious approaches to critically reflect current practices of preaching and worship as well as to propose a paradigm shift for the future of ministry. 

Eunjoo Mary Kim
Courtesy Iliff School of Theology

The adoption of multicultural hermeneutics is one of the book’s proposals: a new paradigm of biblical interpretation for preaching, which offers an alternative to the exclusive view of sola scriptura and which employs intertextuality between Christian and other religious texts as well as with literary, feminist, and postcolonial criticisms.

Moreover, new liturgical models, explored in relation to the metaphors of the kaleidoscope and of metamorphosis, provide insights for thinking creatively about a radical transformation of the ministry of preaching and worship.

Although this book is primarily concerned with the fields of homiletics and liturgics, it shares valuable wisdom about the general paradigm shift in theological education in our increasingly multicultural world.  


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