The moment of truth is here. With racial tensions rising in our current climate, the church has an opportunity to be a testimony to the power of the gospel. While Sunday worship service times have typically been the most segregated hour, the church can commit to changing that by reflecting the demographics of its community, especially in urban areas. Too often churches in multiethnic communities fail to reach and reflect their demographic. It is time to pursue a heavenly model (see Revelation 5:9–10, 7:9–10) over a homogeneous one. Such a pursuit must start with the leadership of the church. A proponent and practitioner of this pursuit, Pastor Bryan Loritts leads a multiethnic church in the urban Memphis community and longs for other church leaders to grab ahold of this heavenly vision and guide their churches through this transformation. Yet, many church leaders need to be shown how to make this move in the first place. Bryan Loritts’s Right Color, Wrong Culture: The Type of Leader Your Organization Needs to Become Multiethnic equips leaders to do just that.
Written in narrative form, Right Color, Wrong Culture takes the reader through a story, a fable, of Poplar Bible Church and Christian Academy, a mainly monoethnic church located in a growing multiethnic community. Because of the changing demographics, the church is looking to move to another location to continue to serve those already in the church, their desired demographic. Yet, Gary, the senior pastor, sees an opportunity to reach the community and to reflect it by becoming a multiethnic church. This tale is told in six parts, as Gary, who is Caucasian, reaches out to his old friend Peter Williams, an African-American, to come alongside him to share with the church leadership the biblical model of multiethnic churches, where it starts, and how to get there. Along the way, one of the influential church leaders, Jackson, is introduced. Jackson’s progression shows the process from skepticism to seriousness about becoming a multiethnic church.
The book’s storytelling is captivating, the statements are clarifying, and the subject is challenging. Loritts shows the struggles churches face in moving toward a multiethnic church. Struggles in convincing church leadership to make the move toward a multiethnic church. Struggles in having that church leadership reflect that vision. At the same time, Pastor Loritts equips leaders to understand the distinction between ethnicity and culture. One of the biggest mistakes church leaders can make when desiring to become multiethnic is to focus merely on the ethnicity in finding the right leader to the neglect of understanding culture is distinct and dire to the right hire. Using the illustration of Carlton and Will from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and providing the descriptions of C1, C2, and C3, Loritts shows why the type of leader needed in becoming a multiethnic church is one of right color as well as right culture. Lest one thinks terms like C1, C2, and C3 describing culture have no biblical precedent, the book lists Scriptural examples of each description. Pastor Loritts puts forth a process that gives perspective where needed and sets a paradigm for moving forward.
The nature of the book as a narrative does not come without its limitations. As church leaders understand the description of C1, C2, and C3 leaders, the search for a C2 leader will be found along a spectrum, not on an exact pinpoint. In other words, there is an art in finding this type of leader, and it may take a little bit of time in getting to know the person to make an informed call. This will require church leaders to have many discussions and seek the Lord’s wisdom throughout the process. It will require humility and grace on both the church’s part and the prospective pastor’s part.
Whether you are skeptical or serious about leading your church to become multiethnic, any church leader living and serving in the midst of a multiethnic community needs to read this book. Church leaders who may not live and serve in such a context can still benefit from the book and will be better equipped to engage with the culture, but this book is a must-read for church leaders who are striving to become multiethnic and finding the type of leader to move forward with that vision.
You can purchase a copy of the book here.
I received this book from Moody Publishers in exchange for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own and are my honest review of the book.