06 Mar The Integrated Church – Book Review
The Integrated Church:
Authentic Multicultural Ministry
Tracy M. Lewis-Giggetts
Kansas City, MO: Beacon Hill Press, 2011,
188 pages, $11.24, paper
Reviewed by David Penno, PhD, DMin
Project Coach at the Seventh-day Adventist Theological Seminary
Andrews University, Berrien Springs, MI
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When Jesus returns to this earth, he will receive a church that is “without spot, wrinkle, or blemish (Eph. 5:27), and that church is dynamically multicultural, multiracial, and subsequently, multidimensional.
It will take a church that looks this way to accomplish the will of God on the earth” (p. 13). Therefore, in order for the Christian Church to accomplish the Great Commission, it must be multi-cultural and multi-ethnic, particularly at the local church level. This is the central thesis of The Integrated Church by Tracy Lewis-Giggetts, an African-American woman who owns her own consulting company and serves churches that are seeking authentic ethnic integration. Her purpose in writing this book is to establish that there is a need for multi-cultural churches, to help churches prepare for the mental, emotional, and spiritual shift require to make this change, and to give practical guidance and samples of churches that are successfully doing it. In the end, however, she emphasizes that each church must be guided by God as to specifically how they should become multicultural (pp. 173, 174).
The book, written for a popular audience, is divided into three main sections. The first section argues that Christian churches today must become integrated in order to be the church that God designed, and to successfully accomplish the work that he has given the church to do. The second section offers to churches a strategy for authentic multi-cultural ministry, and the final section describes some practical steps and examples of churches actually working on integration.
Section One is composed of five chapters, beginning with a chapter that argues for a biblical mandate for multi-cultural churches. First, the author limits her book to ethnic diversity, as opposed to gender, age, or socio-economic diversity in the church. She states that cultural diversity is the most explosive and divisive, and that if the church gets this one right, the others will be easier to tackle. Lewis-Giggetts also debunks the idea of churches claiming to be “color-blind,” thus, simply ignoring the issue altogether. Her response is, “If a person doesn’t see my color, if he or she doesn’t see my culture, then in essence, that person doesn’t see me” (p. 19). She goes on to say that churches seeking to integrate must go beyond tolerating other cultures to the celebration of the diversity that God has created among his children. The biblical foundation of Lewis-Giggetts’ argument is found in Galatians 3:26-28; I Corinthians 9:22; and Deuteronomy 10:16-19, where Israel is commanded to “love those who are foreigners.”