Churches, Cultures, and Leadership
Churches, Cultures, and Leadership
  • Length: 288 pages
  • Dimensions: 6 × 9 in
  • Published: February 28, 2023
  • Item Code: A0287
  • ISBN: 978-1-5140-0287-2

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We live in a culturally diverse society. As the church continues to heed Christ's call to reflect the multiethnic character of his people, pastors and lay leaders need to gain skills and competencies to serve in multicultural contexts, both inside and beyond their congregations. With this book, Mark Lau Branson and Juan F. Martínez equip leaders to create environments that make God's reconciling initiatives apparent in church life and in missional engagement with their neighborhoods and cities.

Drawing on courses they've taught at Fuller Theological Seminary, Branson and Martínez take an interdisciplinary approach that integrates biblical and theological study with sociology, cultural anthropology, leadership studies, and communications. The result is a rich blend of astute analysis and guidance for the practical implementation of a deeper intercultural life for the church.

Case studies, Bible studies, and exercises for personal and group reflection address real-life challenges and opportunities that arise in multiethnic contexts. Churches, Cultures, and Leadership offers not a static model but a praxis of paying attention, study, and discernment that can lead to genuine reconciliation and shared life empowered by the gospel.

This new edition is updated throughout to address current trends and sources, particularly emphasizing the continuing power of racism and how churches should respond.

"Branson and Martinez offer valuable questions and perspectives pastors should consider as they deal with our changing multiethnic reality. This book is a valuable conversation starter for churches facing issues connected to that reality."

George Yancey, professor of sociology at Baylor University and author of Beyond Racial Division

"Today, the American church—perhaps now more than ever—needs to embody God's reconciliation and hope. The Black Lives Matter and Stop AAPI Hate movements have clearly shone a light on the deep brokenness and racism in our society. Relevant for this racial moment, Churches, Cultures and Leadership offers an amazing sociocultural framework for church leaders to discern God's initiatives, even amid our society's fracturing. Branson and Martinez thoughtfully provide insights, scriptural resources, and group exercises to assist local congregations in becoming a healing signpost and an instrument of God's peace in their communities."

Russell Jeung, professor of Asian American studies at San Francisco State University and cofounder of Stop AAPI Hate

"The United States is in the midst of a profound diversity explosion that will continue to transform the church for decades to come. Mark Branson and Juan Martinez supply a proven multidisciplinary model of practical theology, which enlarges our capacity to navigate these increasing intercultural complexities."

Robert Chao Romero, author of Brown Church and associate professor in Chicano/a and Central American studies at the University of California, Los Angeles

"I assign Churches, Cultures, and Leadership in my courses in Spanish as well as in English. Every church in the United States is called to serve a diverse community and to respond to an ethnically and racially conflicted environment. Every pastor is called to learn the art of discerning the movement of the Holy Spirit in their neighborhood. This new version responds to the signs of the times and is designed to help readers to better process the contents. As the church struggles to transform itself to channel the pure wine of the gospel in the multiplicity of modern wineskins, we need this book to inspire, support, and guide us."

Alexia Salvatierra, academic dean of Centro Latino at Fuller Theological Seminary

"The mission of God (missio Dei) is multicultural in nature. God's plan for his church involves the union of different people from different backgrounds and cultures living together as one body in Christ. However, most churches in the United States continue to be ethnically or culturally homogeneous. The ones that attempt to be multiethnic usually tend to exhibit the dominance of one culture or group. Christian leaders are key to bridging the gap between God's ideal and our current congregational practice, but they can only do it with a proper theological, cultural, and leadership framework. This book, in practical and insightful ways, provides this necessary framework. I highly recommend it!"

Octavio Javier Esqueda, professor and director of PhD and EdD programs in educational studies at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

"This book is a unique and profound combination of social science research, theological insights, and personal practical experience that serves as a fantastic field guide for those wanting to build multiethnic congregations. It is a must-read for pastors, lay leaders, and volunteers wanting to struggle for the elusive dream of a truly inclusive, equitable, and multicultural worshipping community."

Brad Christerson, professor of sociology at Biola University and coauthor of Growing Up in America: The Power of Race in the Lives of Teens

"Churches, Cultures and Leadership has been a required text in my multicultural ministry course for over a decade. In this revised edition, Branson and Martinez continue to provide ministry students and church leaders with an invaluable resource for envisioning multiethnic congregations participating effectively in mission and ministry in North America. Ministry leaders and church-planting teams will discover theological foundations for ministry anchored in the missio Dei and informed by cutting-edge social science research as well as helpful insights from cultural intelligence, leadership, and intercultural communication. This is an indispensable volume for those who desire 'skills and competencies needed for discerning God's initiatives and embodying the gospel in a multicultural context.'"

Daniel A. Rodriguez, dean of religion and philosophy at Pepperdine University

Read an Excerpt


List of Bible Studies
List of Personal Reflections / Group Exercises
List of Figures and Tables

Introduction: Who, What, Why?

Part I: Theology and Context
1. Practical Theology and Multicultural Initiatives
2. Missional Ecclesiology and Church Context
3. Sociocultural Structures, Ethnicity, and Churches

Part II: Sociocultural Perspectives
4. Worldviews, Reality, and Assumptions
5. Language, Gestures, and Power
6. Defining Social Relations
7. Self-Perception and Individuality
8. Perception and Thinking

Part III: Leadership, Communication, and Change
9. Intercultural Communication
10. Leading Change
11. Practices for the Calling

Appendix: Lectio Divina: Dwelling in the Word
General Index
Scripture Index


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Mark Branson

Mark Lau Branson (EdD, University of San Francisco) is the Homer L. Goddard Senior Professor of the Ministry of the Laity at Fuller Theological Seminary. His most recent book is Leadership, God's Agency, and Disruptions: Confronting Modernity's Wager (with Alan Roxburgh).

Juan F. Martinez

Juan Francisco Martínez (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) has served as vice president for diversity and international ministries, director of the Center for the Study of Hispanic Church and Community, and professor of Hispanic studies and pastoral leadership at Fuller Theological Seminary. His recent books include The Story of Latino Protestants in the United States.