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Healing Our Broken Humanity (Grace Ji-Sun Kim and Graham Hill) is an excellent* book for a small group study that is seeking to reinvent or reinvigorate their church’s action in the world. The book is organized around 9 practices: Reimagine Church, Renew Lament, Repent Together, Relinquish Power, Restore Justice, Reactivate Hospitality, Reinforce Agency, Reconcile Relationships, and Recover Life Together.
As I initially looked at these topics, I realized that chapters 2 through 9 were in the opposite order that made me comfortable. To begin with lament, repentance, and relinquishing power are very foreign concepts to me as a white, cis-hetero, Christian male. It is much easier for me to discuss “community life” and “reconciling relationships” because these are more abstract areas that do not have a direct challenge to my life. This order however demonstrates the intentionality that the authors have in not just TALKING about the things that would revitalize the church, but putting them into practice. While there is attention given to the global scale of injustice, the discussion questions and invitations to action remain local and personal.
This is an intensely practical book. It is not an academic treatment of racial dynamics, economic disparity, or exegetical priority. It is meant to drive the conversation and action for a different view of the future then what we experience now. Each chapter contains a brief expository section and then follows up with practices, activities, and readings that flush that concept out. It is inductive and experiential, and for those reasons it will really challenge people who are accustomed to a more intellectual and staid approach to discussing (but never acting for) controversial social topics. This book is best experienced in a group setting so that there is the opportunity to learn from the perspective of others and to have one’s own interpretation call to account. I would recommend this book for group study of at least 10 weeks, but 12 would probably be a better plan.
*Critique: the book focuses its energy on addressing racism and sexism, yet gives no mention to communities disaffected by the Church due to their gender identity or sexual orientation. In the repeated descriptions of the NEED for healing, these communities are conspicuously absent. A brief section on intersectionality (99-101) defaults to categories of race, class, and gender, yet would provide a clear opening to be included in the “Restore Justice” chapter. Perhaps it is assumed that the process to heal broken humanity along gender and racial/ethnic lines will spill over into healing the rifts of gender identity/sexual orientation, but the lack of engagement leaves that initiative to the reader.
This review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.
What do you think? This whole site is in experiment mode right now so I am looking for feedback. Use the comment area to let me know if you like this type of content or how to improve it- comments won’t post so only I will see what you have to say. Thanks! -michael
Michael Shepherd is an administrative faculty member and adjunct professor at Hope International University in Fullerton, CA, USA. His courses cover intercultural studies, social sciences, Biblical studies, and Christian ministry. As Director of Certificate Programs, he supports affiliated programs in 20 different countries which deliver contextualized leadership training.
His past work includes leadership in addressing homelessness in Orange County, CA, as Director of Operations, Community Engagement Manager, and Housing Program Manager for different organizations. Prior to his work in housing, he was active in international community development. He is also an advisory board member for the Gianesschi Center for Nonprofit Research at California State University, Fullerton. He is experienced in intercultural communication (especially teaching), online and hybrid education, community organizing, and program development.
- MA, Intercultural Studies, emphases in World Christianity and contextualization, Fuller Theological Seminary
- MSc, Management, emphases in Community Development and Nonprofit Management, Hope International University
- BA, Biblical Studies and Preaching, Hope International University
*Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed on this site belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the author’s employer, associations, or other group or individual.