Eugene Cho

‘the next evangelicalism’ & the changing face of christianity

soong chan rah

Soong Chan Rah isn’t a household name that rolls off your tongue like others in the larger Western evangelical world.  But if you’re at all interested in Christianity and it’s engagement with Justice, Urbanism, and Multi-ethnicity, you’ll want to bookmark his website/blog and take a look at his new book entitled, The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church From Western Cultural Captivity.

Umm, I don’t think he got the memo that ‘happy titles’ sell more books.

the next evangelicalism

Since he’s a professor at North Park Seminary in Chicago, he was one of my primary hosts when I visited and spoke at the seminary couple freezing winters ago.  I recently had a chance to chat and interview (video below) Soong Chan about his new book, the changing face and supposed decline of Christianity and the Boston Red Sox, Cubs, and Seattle Mariners.

Listen to what he’s trying to say about the changing face of Christianity. If you’ve been reading this blog for some time, I’ve been saying that as well.  Not to sound ominous, but getting this and learning to be better listeners, engagers, and neighbors will partly determine Life or Death for the future Church including potentially, your church, tribe, affiliation, or denomination.

What do you think about that statement?

I haven’t finished the book yet and there’s stuff I agree and disagree with but that’s good. For two good reviews, I’d direct you to Wayne Park and Julie Clawson.

Here’s the video:

If you’re reading this via an RSS reader, you can click here to watch the video.

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11 Responses

  1. justin says:

    p.rah once preached about post-modernism and used star trek as an illustration… that was over a decade ago and i still remember that sermon. pe, we need more star trek illustrations at quest. haha.

  2. As folks are reading the book, I’d love to hear feedback and reflections. Even if you haven’t read the book, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the title and thesis of the book.

    Soong-Chan Rah (www.profrah.com)

  3. daniel says:

    Eugene,

    Your comment about Life and Death of the Church is a little over the top but I understand what you’re saying. The Church will never die but churches will die unless they open their eyes and their hearts.

  4. Jeff Lam says:

    soong chan rah came and spoke at an IV conference several years ago, where he talked a lot about the future of the church. he definitely caught everyone’s attention when he said the “white church is dying.” i thought he was smart and provocative, and even people who disagreed with the things he said felt a great deal of respect for him.

  5. me says:

    @jeff: well, i would disagree with scrah. the white church isn’t dying. it’s a large segment but parts of it are certainly dying or in decline.

  6. Andy says:

    I got the book and plan to start reading soon. From previewing the book last night I could see I’m going to probably agree with much of his thesis. I took about 50 pages in my dissertation making some of the same critique, following a thesis Lesslie Newbigin made about Western Christianity as falling into an “advanced form of syncretism.” I’ve worked abroad for 11 years of my adult ministry and found, upon returning to North American, that much of the church culture seemed out of whack. The way forward requires a serious re-reading of scripture while engaging culture missionally.

  7. Wayne Park says:

    You know I’m starting to think that Rah is doing for Asian-American Christianity what Cone did for the black church and Gutierrez did for Latin Am / Hispanic church…

  8. Kacie says:

    Wow, Marinkina’s comment looks interesting!

    I LOVE some of scrah’s ideas, and I think that the evangelical culture that inextricable from the American suburban white culture can die and I will not miss it.

    However, it’s tough to try to pull our faith and churches away from the dominant culture here at the same time as we are trying to enculturate missions and church overseas. We recognize the need to be rooted in the local culture all around the world, but we’re not okay with our own?

    So yeah, I think there’s a balance. When we don’t recognize that our churches are highly influenced by our culture, we are unable to weed out what is culture and what is orthodox faith. In that sense, it’s very important for us to grasp some of the things scrah is saying, and for American churches to adjust to the increasingly diverse American culture rather than getting stuck in the past.

  9. me says:

    @kacie: sorry, spam

    @everyone: i’d be curious to hear from any of the anglo readers of this book. i asked him on the video interview but as you read it, does this come across simply as bashing “white culture.” this is what a friend emailed today:

    “Several of us here who read the book have all felt that (“anti-white culture) came across as a strong sentiment in the book.”

    thoughts?

  10. […] Pastor Eugene Cho and Wayne Park have recently written reviews of this book. You can find them here and here, […]

  11. J.Ben says:

    I would love to comment from an anglo-perspective. Wow, I don’t get to say THAT very often.

    Anyway, I loved it. Totally prophetic and right on. I help lead an InterVarsity Fellowship at Oregon State and I am considering making it required reading.

    As to the “white culture bashing,” I think critics may have a bit of a point, but I also feel that if Rah had spent a good deal of time writing about the good contributions of white evangelicalism, he would have undercut himself. I felt that he was never out of line and he needed to be a bit controversial to get his point across. I felt that all of Rah’s observations were dead on.

    I didn’t for a second think that he did not appreciate his white brothers and sisters and he even gave a shout out to churches that have embraced the next evangelicalism. I believe the people who used to have your church were some of those people right?

    If people want a good book that deals with being white in an increasingly multi-ethnic context, I would recommend “Being White” by Doug Schaupp and Paula Harris. They give a chapter to the good gifts white culture has to offer.

    At the end of the day, this book is much needed and important. I am glad he wrote it and glad I read it. Now I am going to go try to live it.

    Peace!
    Ben

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In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply. May our compassion not just be limited to the West or to those that look like us. Lifting up the people of Iraq, Iran, and Kurdistan in prayer after the 7.3 earthquake - including the many new friends I met on a recent trip to Iraq.

The death toll rises to over 400 and over 7,000 injured in multiple cities and hundreds of villages along the Western border with Iraq.

Lord, in your mercy... We are reminded again and again...that we are Resurrection People living in a Dark Friday world.

It's been a tough, emotional, and painful week - especially as we lament the horrible tragedy of the church shootings at Sutherland Springs. In the midst of this lament, I've been carried by the hope, beauty, and promise of our baptisms last Sunday and the raw and honest testimonies of God's mercy, love, and grace.

Indeed, God is not yet done. May we take heart for Christ has overcome the world. "Without genuine relationships with the poor, we rob them of their dignity and they become mere projects. And God did not intend for anyone to become our projects." Grateful this quote from my book, Overrated, is resonating with so many folks - individuals and  NGOs. / design by @preemptivelove .
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on ourselves 
even as we seek 
to change the world. 
To be about the latter 
without the former 
is the great temptation 
of our times.

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