When we talk to those in church leadership about intercultural communities they often say ‘tell me what to do!’

Becoming an intercultural community is a process – and there is no single way to do it because it is always contextual. That said, there are many different ideas and tools that can help stimulate conversation, conversion and action in your community.

Below are some excellent resources with practical ideas and tools for the journey. Some key tips for starting this journey are:

Pray: Truly intercultural community is the work of the Spirit. Ask God to give you eyes to see, ears to hear and the courage to follow God’s invitations.

Ask questions: Interrogate your congregation and your missional context. Do you care about identity? Do you acknowledge and subvert power and privilege? How are these evidenced in your common life?

Build relationships: You may have heard the phrase ‘nothing about us without us.’ Are you building a real and authentic relationships with those who are considered ‘other’? How are you enabling their identity, voices and stories to shape your community?

Read more

Intercultural engagement
What is ‘intercultural’ community?
Why does it matter?

Recommended resources

Rosemary Dewerse, Breaking Calabashes, MediaCom Education Inc., 2013
This is a very practical and accessible book. It draws on the story from Te Ao Māori of Hinemoa breaking a calabash to gain the attention of Tūtānekai. The examples are drawn from the author’s own experience and leaders from different parts of the world. It names four assumptions that inhibit intercultural life – ‘stereotypes are useful for understanding people’, ‘my voice is most worthy’, ‘cultural ignorance is bliss’ and ‘our kind is better than your kind’ – and four practices that nurture intercultural life – ‘caring for identity’, ‘listening to silenced voices’, to ‘nurture epistemic ruptures’ and ‘deal in justice’). It would be a good resource for a group interested in becoming an intercultural community.
Dan Sheffield, The Multicultural Leader: Developing a Catholic Personality, Clements Publishing, 2005
This resource is particularly aimed at those in church leadership. It draws on experiences in diverse global contexts. It offers great practical insights for leading a church towards becoming an intercultural community.
Mark Lau Branson and Juan F. Martinez, Churches, Cultures and Leadership, IVP: Illinois, 2011
This is also a very practical and accessible book. It is written from a North American perspective but easily translates with good examples from congregations in a variety of contexts. It covers in-depth the theological, sociological and anthropological interplay of churches, cultures and leadership. It also contains practical exercises, bible studies, and further resources – e.g. films. Its primary audiences are those in positions of leadership or influence in congregations with emphasis on leading change towards intercultural life. It takes the reader on their own journey towards an intercultural life and would, therefore, be a good resource for a group working together towards becoming an intercultural community or leading change towards becoming an intercultural community.
Sandra Maria Van Opstal, The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World, IVP, 2016
As suggested by its title, this book focuses on intercultural worship. Again it offers very practical ideas for those who want their corporate worship to be hospitable, mutual, and transformative in a diverse context.
Bob Robinson, Jesus and the Religions, Cascade Books, 2012
Richard Sudworth, Distinctly Welcoming, Scripture Union, 2007
This offers a practical guide to core issues and challenges facing churches in their engagement with those of other faiths.