Book Review: Right Color, Wrong Culture

Right Color, Wrong Culture:  The Type Of Leader Your Organization Needs To Become Multiethnic:  A Leadership Fable, by Bryan Loritts

[Note:  This book was provided free of charge by Moody Publishers.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.]

Somewhere inside this short book there was a worthwhile subject for a book, but in reading this volume I’m not sure the author went about it the right way.  Truth be told, I have always found the fable form of attempting to encourage cultural change in Christian behavior to be more than a little bit contrived [1], and that puts this book in a bit of a difficult spot for me personally as a reader.  It is unclear why this book was not tackled in one of two ways, either as a memoir which looks at the author’s experience in moving beyond his racial prejudices in hiring for the ministry or as a book that straightforwardly discusses the sort of leader that would best handle a multiethnic church.  As it is, this book is both infuriating in its content (its attempt to justify affirmative action is particularly egregious in its political correctness) and phony in its staged conversations.  And yet despite this there is something worthwhile that is in the book, and if this is the wrong book, it at least talks about the right sort of subject, namely the importance of having culturally sensitive leaders in an age like ours.

The contents of this book are fairly straightforward.  The author begins with a setup where a congregation with an associated church is in an ethnically changing neighborhood and the leadership of the currently white church feels it necessary to hire the right kind of black minister in order to appeal to the increasingly black neighbors, some of whom want to keep the school going because it offers better education than the public school system.  The author lays the white guilt on heavily by painting the reader as being a clueless accidental racist like the main character and shows the church engaging in a hiring process that seeks to distinguish between three types of leaders that the book labels C1 (assimilated to another culture), C2 (able to be flexible in appealing to multiple cultures), and C3 (firmly and stubbornly rooted in one’s own culture), arguing that in order to lead a multiethnic church, one that reflects the complexity and egalitarianism of biblical Christianity, it is necessary to have a C2 approach, before showing the consultant being hired for the job because of his ability to work well with the church board.

There is no doubt that the author views himself as one of those “Denzel” blacks that demonstrates a great deal of flexibility in appealing both to black and white audiences in Memphis a city that like many has a great deal of racial division.  However, the political tone of this book is more like Ice Cube, and the author is not quite as able to move beyond identity politics as he thinks he is.  Even so, there is something worthwhile here.  A Christian leader does need to be able to move beyond his (or her) own ethnic and cultural background.  God’s plan has always been about creating a godly culture out of people from all kinds of varied backgrounds, united in faith however distinct in origins, and it has always been necessary to bridge the gap between God’s own culture and that of any other culture that God’s people are living and working in.  Nor is European or European-American culture itself a representative of God’s culture, but is itself a culture that needs to be transformed through the presence of and working of God’s Spirit.  Truth be told, the church in Memphis didn’t need to hire a Denzel.  They needed to hire someone, anyone, regardless of background, that was able to bridge the cultural gap they were facing, and to encourage leadership that was diverse enough for everyone to realize the color blind nature of a godly church, one that puts identity politics aside by demonstrating that it is concerned with the gifts God has generously given to all.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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1 Response to Book Review: Right Color, Wrong Culture

  1. Pingback: Book Review: We Are Mother Abraham | Edge Induced Cohesion

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