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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stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. Thanks for your prayers. 
I have numerous stories to share but for now, the following came up in every conversation with Iraqi/Syrian refugees:

1 Have tea with us. Or coffee. Or juice. Or something with lots of sugar in it. Or better yet, all of the above.
2 We want peace. We want security. 
3 We hate ISIS. 
4 We just want to go home.
5 Please don't forget us.

Please don't forget them... Father, please bless and protect these Iraqi and Syrian "refugee" children that have already endured so much. Protect their hearts and mind from unfathomable trauma. Plant seeds of hope and vision in their lives. And as we pray for them, teach us how to advocate for them. Amen. "We don't call them refugees. We call them relatives. We don't call them camps but centers. Dignity is so important." -  local Iraqi priest whose church has welcomed many "relatives" to their church's property

It's always a privilege to be invited into peoples' home for tea - even if it's a temporary tent. This is an extended Yezidi family that fled the Mosul, Iraq area because of ISIS. It's indeed true that Christians were targeted by ISIS and thatbstory muat be shared but other minority groups like the Yezidis were also targeted. Some of their heartbreaking stories included the kidnapping of their sister. They shared that their father passed away shortly of a "broken heart." The conversation was emotional but afterwards, we asked each other for permission to take photos. Once the selfies came out, the real smiles came out.

So friends: Pray for Iraq. Pray for the persecuted Church. Pray for Christians, minority groups like the Yezidis who fear they will e completely wiped out in the Middle East,, and Muslims alike who are all suffering under ISIS. Friends: I'm traveling in the Middle East this week - Iraq, Lebanon, and Jordan. (Make sure you follow my pics/stories on IG stories). Specifically, I'm here representing @onedayswages to meet, learn, and listen to pastors, local leaders, NGOs, and of course directly from refugees from within these countries - including many from Syria.

For security purposes, I haven't been able to share at all but I'm now able to start sharing some photos and stories. For now, I'll be sharing numerous photos through my IG stories and will be sharing some longer written pieces in couple months when ODW launches another wave of partnerships to come alongside refugees in these areas. Four of us are traveling together also for the purpose of creating a short documentary that we hope to release early next year.

While I'm on my church sabbatical, it's truly a privilege to be able to come to these countries and to meet local pastors and indigenous leaders that tirelessly pursue peace and justice, and to hear directly from refugees. I've read so many various articles and pieces over the years and I thought I was prepared but it has been jarring, heartbreaking,  and gut wrenching. In the midst of such chaos, there's hope but there's also a lot of questions, too.

I hope you follow along as I share photos, stories, and help release this mini-documentary. Please tag friends that might be interested.

Please pray for safety, for empathy, for humility and integrity, for divine meetings. Pray that we listen well; To be present and not just be a consumer of these vulnerable stories. That's my biggest prayer.

Special thanks to @worldvisionusa and @worldrelief for hosting us on this journey. 9/11
Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.

Today, I had some gut wrenching and heart breaking conversations about war, violence, and peacemaking. Mostly, I listened. Never in my wildest imagination did I envision having these conversations on 9/11 of all days. I wish I could share more now but I hope to later after I process them for a few days.

But indeed: Never forget.
And never stop working for peace.
May it be so. Amen. Mount Rainier is simply epic. There's nothing like flying in and out of Seattle.

#mountrainier
#seattle
#northwestisbest

my tweets

  • Boom. Final fishing trip. Grateful. A nice way to end my 3 month sabbatical. #catchandrelease twitter.com/i/web/status/9… || 1 day ago
  • Christians: May we be guided by the Scriptures that remind us, "Seek first the Kingdom of God" and not, "Seek first the kingdom of America." || 1 day ago
  • Every convo with Iraqi/Syrian refugees included: 1 Have tea with us 2 We want peace 3 We hate ISIS 4 We want to go home 5 Don't forget us || 4 days ago
  • Back safely from Iraq, Lebanon, Jordan to assess @OneDaysWages' partnerships & to film mini-documentary on refugee crisis. So many emotions. || 4 days ago
  • Pray for Mexico. For those mourning loved ones. For those fighting for life - even under rubbles. For rescue workers. Lord, in your mercy. || 4 days ago
  • Don't underestimate what God can do through you. God has a very long history of using foolish and broken people for His purposes and glory. || 6 days ago