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Church for Everyone: Building a Multi-Inclusive Community for Emerging Generations

In this post-pandemic moment, "Church for Everyone" sees an opportunity to follow biblical mandates for a more just, equitable and inclusive world. — Omar Rouchon

Daniel Kreiss and Efrem Smith
InterVarsity Press, 224 pages
Published February 14, 2024

Church for Everyone offers biblical, historical and contemporary insight into the challenges of creating and sustaining multi-ethnic, multi-inclusive churches. Authors Dan Kreiss and Efrem Smith meticulously describe these forms of ministry, as well as the obstacles to creating and sustaining them. They are clear that true diversity is not simply about church growth, or appealing to young people, but about faithfulness to our mission as we seek to “broaden the understanding of God and the family of God, of which all are a part.”

The authors rely on their experiences as leaders of multi-inclusive congregations with a variety of backgrounds, as well as many examples from across the country, spanning topics such as how to approach and address issues of race and “politics” in congregational settings. While the book is framed in the context of “emerging generations,” its lessons apply to any generation, as well as to everyone involved — not just pastors and church leaders.

Lessons spring to life through case studies, such as the example of Tennessee’s City View Church. The authors describe the church’s invitational nature – encouraging worshipers to thoughtfully process traditional language and how it might be more inclusive, for instance – inviting readers to reflect on how thoughtful choices in language and worship style can lead to more authentic, inclusive participation. It’s a good example of the church’s historical struggle to avoid sticking with tradition for tradition’s sake … or changing just for change’s sake.

Church for Everyone is an effective resource for congregation and denominational equipping teams, and even in seminary settings. Compelling reflection questions provide opportunities for reflection; the socio-cultural questions about race, ethnicity, power and privilege help frame difficult conversations. Several chapters address the issues related to “dominant culture” and make helpful distinctions between diversity and plurality.

There is, however, an emphasis on racial and ethnic diversity, to the neglect of other aspects of inclusivity. As the authors point out, emerging generations are interested in a wide range of justice and identity issues, and it would be helpful to explicitly highlight the exclusion faced by members of the LGBTQIA community, as well as those with physical and cognitive disabilities. While there was a passing reference to both sexual orientation and gender identity, the book’s overall message of acceptance and justice could have been strengthened by explicitly expanding on these areas of identity and exclusion.

In this post-pandemic moment, Church for Everyone sees an opportunity to follow biblical mandates for a more just, equitable and inclusive world. The authors also anticipate – and respond to – those who may push back on the need to acknowledge historical wrongs in order to make progress toward becoming a multi-inclusive church. But this reckoning is required: “Becoming multi-inclusive is a process by which individual faith communities wrestle with their own biases and acknowledge their own patterns of exclusivity,” the authors conclude. To overcome our culture’s suspicion of faith, Christian mission must “turn its gaze toward showing the world how Jesus came to love them, affirm their humanity, and offer them hope in despair.” That’s a message for any generation.

Click here to purchase Church for Everyone: Building a Multi-Inclusive Community for Emerging Generations.

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