"Ethnic Blends" by Mark Deymaz and Harry Li

Mark Deymaz and Harry Li, Ethnic Blends: Mixing Diversity into Your Local Church. Zondervan, 2010. 230pgs. 

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Ethnic Blends is a book which encourages local churches to aim for multi-ethnic (self consciously not multi-cultural, as the authors explain) and makes a beginning of explaining how to do this.  The first chapter outlines the biblical reasons that we ought to be doing this as well as the seven core commitments of a multi-ethnic church.  Chapter one, as well as the introduction, also give the reader the understanding that this task will be difficult. From there, Deymaz and Li spend seven chapters explaining how to overcome various obstacles; personal, theological, philosophical, practical, cross-cultural, relational, and spiritual. Each chapter is a mix of stories, advice, warnings, and encouragement.  They end with discussion and reflection questions. 

I completely agree with Deymaz and Li in terms of the purpose of this book.  They put the question very well: "If the kingdom of heaven is not segregated, why on earth is the church?" I believe there is something very important about the church not just being in all nations around the world but composed, as much as possible, on the level of individual churches, by people from 'all nations.'  Of course, if there are no people from a particular place in our community, we don't go out of our way to bring them.  What this means, and what the authors of this book are promoting, is that our churches congregations represent our communities.  

Having said that, I was disappointed with this book.  They started out well, with some biblical depth and good points.  However, each of their chapters on overcoming obstacles was too shallow.  For example, in the chapter on philosophical obstacles, they outline three different models, but do not give much detail on how to transition between them.  Another example was their discussion of being missional.  They tell us that being missional isn't something they 'do' but it is a part of 'who they are.'  But something like that doesn't happen by accident; are they implying that by being multi-ethnic a church will, automatically, be missional?  I don't think so, given comments elsewhere... but even that lack of clarity is part of my disappointment. 

Still, this book is a start, and a good one.  Deymaz and Li place themselves in the pioneering stage of this movement, so we should expect to find things still vague in some ways.  Too many stories for my taste, but not poorly written, and an important subject matter. 

Conclusion: 3.5 stars, conditionally recommended.  Know what you are getting into: an introduction to a subject that people in churches need to spend some serious time and thought on.  

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