“From experiential knowledge and with anthropological precision, Soong-Chan Rah has provided a thorough explanation of cross-cultural competence, one of the core commitments required for effective multiethnic ministry.” –Dr. Mark DeYmaz
Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church by Soong-Chang Rah (2010) serves Christian educators by instructing leaders to foster environments that promote cultural intelligence.
While Rah primarily addresses church leaders, the poignancy and accessibility of Many Colors is Rah’s ability to weave his personal narrative into this instructive guide. His experiences illuminate the interplay between the complexity of culture and its various expressions that exist in a multicultural community.
Rah’s (2010) definition of culture includes the anthropological and sociological elements while simultaneously “deriving an understanding of culture from a biblical framework” (p. 26). His extensive treatment of culture’s complexity is necessary as he asserts “cultural intelligence deals with an understanding of culture that has multiple layers” (2010, p. 26). His approach reclaims the beauty and benefit of culture without succumbing to the notion that specific cultures are inherently bad. As image bearers, it is incumbent upon the community members to create societies, schools, and organizations that honor God displaying their image bearing ability through cultural creation. Rah navigates the individual and social constructs of culture to help leaders grow in awareness and develop environments that are sensitive to diverse groups.
Cultural intelligence requires community participants to recognize the goodness of their own cultural expressions and that of others. Rah warns that a lack of awareness can marginalize those who do not share the same cultural expressions. He offers concise explanations of various cultural expressions allowing the reader to identify their own tendencies and understand others. Rah uses biblical examples and sociological analysis to highlight the benefits of examining a situation from a new cultural perspective. Discerning distinct cultural expressions presented in a moment of conflict allows participants to work toward a harmonious end.
Communities desiring to grow in diversity must develop their leaders’ cultural intelligence. Rah’s framework for understanding cultural intelligence gives educators the tools necessary to create an environment that fosters continued growth and sensitivity to diverse cultures.
Ultimately, Rah provides concrete deliverables to help schools disrupt the subconscious mono culturalism in their communities. The task requires critically engaging the aspects that form a school’s culture using the tools gained throughout the book.