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Rediscipling the White Church: From Cheap Diversity to True Solidarity

4.29  ·  Rating details ·  363 ratings  ·  83 reviews
Many white Christians across America are waking up to the fact that something is seriously wrong--but often this is where we get stuck. Confronted by the deep-rooted racial injustice in our society, many white Christians instinctively scramble to add diversity to their churches and ministries. But is diversity really the answer to the widespread racial dysfunction we see i ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 19th 2020 by IVP
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Tiffany
This book makes a bold claim, that is that "the segregation within white Christianity is not fundamentally a diversity problem: it's a discipleship problem" (8). Lest outrage immediately arise from diversity advocates, he knows the data: most multicultural churches end up reinforcing majority white power structures, creating assimilationist cultures. Even diversity, when it is pursued in such environments, ends up serving white power. So, this book answers the question, when we've all been forme ...more
Joel Wentz
Jul 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A firm-but-gentle book that pushes this conversation in the direction it desperately needs to go, at least as it concerns the white-evangelical-American church. Swanson wisely pushes back on the drive towards "diversity" and instead focuses on how white Christians have been "discipled" by racial thinking in our culture. He argues (and I completely agree) that we need to be discipled out of that way of thinking/imagining our world, and re-discipled into true solidarity with the whole body of Chri ...more
Chris Baik
Jul 07, 2020 rated it liked it
To be quite frank, I probably never would have picked up this book if not for the climate of the country in mid-2020 with the murder of George Floyd and the subsequent protests. I have a lot to learn and digest in this respect, and I am thankful for the fact books like this exist.

As an Asian-American, I don't fit neatly into the two primary groups being spoken of. There are elements of what is described as "white" in this book that I resonate with - in particular, the privilege of having social
...more
Daniel Kleven
May 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
When you've read a dozen or two books on "racial reconciliation" from one angle or another, you need to be persuaded to read yet another book on the subject. I'll be honest, I wasn't sure there would be anything "new" for me in this one, but after yet another recommendation (from somewhere, I can't remember), I decided to give it a go, and I'm glad I did.

There were a couple of "new" insights for me in the book (but that really wasn't the point). In terms of a fundamentally healthy approach to de
...more
Aimee
Jun 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I wish this book were not so sorely needed in the American church today, but I am so grateful that we have a guide in these words from David Swanson to further lead us towards the solidarity that we are called to embody in the kingdom of God. I found this book to be equally thought-provoking and incredibly practical, both in understanding the theological structure for a reimagined discipleship and the ways this can be integrated into both the praxis of our churches and our individual lives as di ...more
Josh
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
I really appreciated this book. I bought it because Swanson is outside of my stream (I wasn't familiar with him or most of his endorsers), but he still is coming from a Christian perspective. Though I don't line up 100% with what Swanson says, his insight and experience are extremely helpful.

Everything flows from Chapter 1 where he takes James K.A. Smith's view of man/formation (which is Augustin's view of man/formation) and applies it to Christians, specifically white Christians. I'd never hea
...more
Conlan DeLorenzo
Dec 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
David Swanson speaks to the pervasive reality of racialized Christianity in a manner that is both convicting and incredibly needed. For anyone, but especially white Christians, interested in a holistic approach toward racial justice, ecclesial unity, and discipleship to Jesus, this book is a great place to start.
Julie H
Feb 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2021
This might be my favorite book about race relations within the church that I have read in this season. I have read many books over the past year on this topic both with and without a focus on the church. I really liked this one. It resonated well. It is firm but also so gentle in the way he writes. I would like to read this one again, slowly, a chapter a week and really digest what it has to say.
Kofi Gyimah
Oct 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has the potential to be extremely impactful. Impactful specifically to white Christians. It’s a book that many black Christian have written, discussed and are familiar with. To read this from a white author was so refreshing. It’s a call to biblical discipleship absent of the common racial injustice blind spots. Written by a white man I think that this book can be that much more far reaching. It is a book that challenges and inspires at the same time. It comes from a thoughtful, lived ...more
Erin
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The more I read about the white American church's complicity with racism, the more I recognize my own complicity with racism. The more I read about whiteness and white privilege, the more I recognize the many ways I benefit from my whiteness--and the more I recognize the cost of this privilege.

And it's hard to write these things. It's uncomfortable. And I need to make peace with discomfort and seek justice, whatever the cost.

Last February, I attended the Cultivate conference and participated i
...more
Rick Lee Lee James
Imagine

This book contains so much good information on rediscipling our churches and helps us to imagine a world where the churches share the unity and diversity of the body to Christ. The author has done a great service to us by helping us imagine what for many seems to be unthinkable.

“Imagine, then, a white church that purposefully, humbly, and courageously pursues a new course—a nonconforming course. Imagine a white church making disciples of white Christians who are finding their way to embod
...more
Brian
Jan 03, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This book helped me rethink the goal for my own church plant. The goal is not diversity. The goal is solidarity. We want to stand with our brothers and sisters of color in a fight for justice. What I love about that is it gives the white rural church something to attain. I would still love to have a diverse church plant. But it starts with solidarity.
Christopher Gow
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ethics, theology
Really helpful & practical. If you have any organizational/cultural influence in a white church you should read this.

Swanson draws heavily on the work of James KA Smith, Rev. Dr. Brenda Salter McNeil, Sandra Maria Van Opstal, Emerson and Smith, and Willie Jennings, among others, and presents their ideas concisely, with practical guidance for reforming white liturgy.

One of the coolest things about this book is that most of the guidance Swanson gives for anti-racist white liturgy are things you
...more
Justin Lonas
Nov 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
Winsome and clear. If your church is wrestling with understanding racial injustice or socioeconomic segregation, this would be a helpful place to begin.
Tom Greentree
Jun 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Important book from David Swanson, speaking truth to white Christians as we come to grips with how we’ve been racially discipled and strive to become people of solidarity and justice with our brothers and sisters of colour. Highly recommended.

From the last chapter:
“It is past time for white churches to make disciples of Jesus who do not conform to our racialized society. It’s not more diversity we need; it’s better discipleship that calls white Christians to follow Jesus into the kingdom of God
...more
Mark Combs
Nov 22, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Must read on discipleship

This book is not going to do what you might think it is going to do. This is not simply a call to unity (although that is needed), rather Swanson shows that we have a discipleship problem that is deforming the church. The solution is a radical redefinition of discipleship to Jesus as a fully embodied apprenticeship unto Jesus that shapes us into living as kingdom people in solidarity with one another.
Buy it, Read it, Marinate on it, Do it.
Eric Targe
Nov 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Deep, profound, revealing, and practical. All who attend predominantly white churches would benefit from reading this book. The author is winsome and thoughtful and the reader is not left with a confusion of what to do next, practical and proven steps to true reconciliation and spiritual growth are provided.
Adam Shields
Sep 04, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summary: Stop emphasizing visual diversity and focus on solidarity. 

Among those interested in racial justice, there is significant interest in how to help people become interested in racial justice. I frequently have used the metaphor of evangelism both because there is a sense of a message being that is necessary, and there is some sense of the Holy Spirit awakening the person to be open to that message.

David Swanson's main focus in Rediscipling the White Church is discipleship, not evangelism.
...more
Josh Olds
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
From the title alone, I knew that Rediscipling the White Church: From Cheap Diversity to True Solidarity would be something I needed to read carefully and consider deeply. I grew up in a rural midwestern small town where the population was 96.47% white. And given the population hovered around 6,000, well, there wasn’t much opportunity for diversity. Every church I went to growing up was, to my recollection 100% white.

Then I graduated seminary and accepted a calling at a primarily Asian church. T
...more
Elisha Lawrence
Aug 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book fits into the category of books that needed to be written right now. I wouldn't say I enjoyed it as much as I benefitted from it. That's the insanity of rating books. Not all books can be judged by the same criteria. Anyway, Swanson seems like the perfect person to write this book. He has been primarily in black Christian spaces for a long time, but he is white. He cast a different vision for those who desire diversity in religious spaces. Rather than aiming at diversity alone, we need ...more
Adriel Rose
There is a general fallacy in many churches today that says simultaneously if a church is predominantly white, it has no reason to address race, and if it does, the way to do so is by rushing to fill seats with non-White parishioners (without doing any work among its White members).

Pastor David W. Swanson’s book shows how this assumption is simply not true. It also fills in a piece of the wider puzzle of how White Supremacy has infiltrated all aspects of life in the United States, including the
...more
Tangi
Jan 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A book everyone should read.

This book elicited a visceral response in my soul! So very thoughtful, open, honest, bold, challenging and hopeful. The nuisances, the relational dynamics and observations came from a white Christian Pastor who committed to and embedded himself within a black community to learn, grow and exact change. He’s sharing what he’s learned and gives people a starting point to learn about racism, oppression, injustice and what God thinks about it all anddddd he provides a road
...more
Jan
Jan 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: racial-recon
Title: Rediscipling the white church; from cheap diversity to true solidarity
Author: David W Swanson
Publisher: IVP ISBN 9780830845972 196 pages paper 2020 $16.00
Reviewed by Jan Arkills, member at large

I have read about 30 books on white supremacy and the church and biographies of the various races, and this book stand head and shoulder above them all. It is written by David W Swanson with a forward by Brenda Salter McNeil. We had a live presentation by David Swanson at our church which you may w
...more
Jarrel
May 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
A breath of fresh air from a white minister who not only sees our pain but has felt it through community and fellowship with a diverse church body. He understands how powerful the gospel can be to help people see individual sins and also systemic sins of history former and history present. His wisdom spreads and informs a white church body of a history black people have been screaming and speaking about for centuries.

It is true that so many of our white brothers and sisters are completely unawa
...more
Rob
May 24, 2020 rated it really liked it
Pastor David Swanson offers for the church a helpful and practical guide to prioritizing discipleship in a racialized culture. Pastor Swanson offers helpful information to help the reader understand how we are subtly discipled by race. He argues "our habit-oriented desires are constantly being shaped by cultural practices this warped vision (of racial difference) of the world and our neighbors" (p. 22). It is not natural for us to live in such a stratified and segregated society, argues Swanson, ...more
Jodie Pine
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I really liked this book! It was intriguing, well-researched, personalized, and practical. I want to go back over my notes and rethink some of the author's ideas. His insights on children's ministry were particularly interesting to me. And I was challenged by the way he developed his main point that church diversity is actually not the goal.

"Whereas many evangelistic invitations leave white Christians content in our segregation, the call to follow Jesus into his kingdom makes explicit the recon
...more
Emily Anderle
Jun 28, 2020 rated it really liked it
This is a MUST READ for White Christian leaders. David Swanson addresses the ways that white Christians have been disciples by the world and how we need to become disciples of Jesus who stand in solidarity with our Black and Brown siblings. He gives wonderfully practical suggestions for how to use the practices you already do in church to re-make folks into the image of Jesus.

I found his emphasis that you don’t start with diversity and you don’t have to wait for diversity to be so refreshing. It
...more
Jonathan Markham
It is difficult to describe the emotions, reactions and challenges that reading this book has rendered unavoidable to me . I have read it at a time when the subject of racial tension has risen to the surface of our culture in unavoidable ways. I have had to confront the reality of my whiteness and what that really means, not as a source of guilt and shame, but as a revelation of realities I had never known before. I would recommend that every white person read this book especially white pastors ...more
Yajaira Marmolejo
Aug 17, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: racial-justice
I loved that he uses and explains the importance of liturgy in our lives, because most Christians are not aware of it and we all should. Also, I think this book has the right concept and practices to re-image discipleship but I did not like how he puts the focus on white Christianity as if this is only a racial sin. I think this is a universal sin and everyone ought to re-image their view of the kingdom of God. I'm latina, and I have been treated differently by blacks and whites because of my ra ...more
Al Doyle
The Spring, Summer, and Fall of 2020 will be remembered by history (much as the 1960s are remembered) as a "come to Jesus" season on the subject of race relations in America. Lucky me. I got to be present for both movements.

Is this Summer's activities a sign that we did not "get it" in the '60s? Not really. It's a manifestation of generations of Americans with their collective "heads the sand" added to the reality that this nation and America's version of Western civilization was (and is) based
...more
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David is the founding pastor of New Community Covenant Church, a multiracial congregation on the South Side of Chicago. He also serves as the CEO of New Community Outreach, a non-profit organization working to reduce causes of trauma and raise opportunities for equity in Chicago. He previously served as a Director of Church Planting for the Evangelical Covenant Church. David and Maggie have been m ...more

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“In my experiences with racial reconciliation conversations, there usually comes a moment when superficial talk gets real. Often this comes about because a person of color takes the risk to share how racism and white supremacy have impacted her life. And then, almost invariably, in response to this vulnerable testimony, a white person begins to speak, usually through tears. This person shares about how overwhelming this experience has been, how he hadn’t known the extent of our racialized society and its racist history, about how sad, angry, or confused he is feeling now. I’ve watched this happen so many times that I can almost predict it: the move away from a person of color’s experience to a white person’s emotions. I have experienced these strong emotions myself, but as Austin Channing Brown points out, focusing on white emotions rather than the experiences of people of color can be dangerous. She writes, “If Black people are dying in the street, we must consult with white feelings before naming the evils of police brutality. If white family members are being racist, we must take Grandpa’s feelings into account before we proclaim our objections to such speech. . . . White fragility protects whiteness and forces Black people to fend for themselves.” 2 likes
“There are two reasons for white Christianity—churches, fellowships, ministries—to pursue solidarity rather than first seeking to become multiracial/ ethnic/ cultural. First, as we have already seen, racial segregation is less about separateness than about the material damages of our racially unjust society. It is possible to build a multiracial ministry that leaves structures of racism and white supremacy totally undisturbed. In fact, it is easy for multiracial churches to bend toward the comfort of white people rather than the well-being of people of color. Focusing on solidarity moves the focus away from shallow togetherness onto the priorities and flourishing of Christians of color. “White American Christians in our society,” writes Drew G. I. Hart, “must do something seemingly absurd and unnatural, yet very Christian in orientation: they must move decisively toward a counterintuitive solidarity with those on the margins. They must allow the eyes of the violated of the land to lead and guide them, seeking to have renewed minds no longer conformed to the patterns of our world.” 2 The second reason for making solidarity our goal is that every expression of white Christianity can pursue gospel reconciliation immediately. Rather than outsourcing this essential Christian vocation to multiracial churches or to congregations in urban or racially diverse regions, every white congregation can contribute to the unity of the body of Christ across lines of cultural division. In fact, given what we have observed about the particular injustices associated with racial whiteness, it’s not a stretch to say that white churches have a front-lines role in the spiritual battle for reconciliation.” 1 likes
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