Distinctly Welcoming: Christian presence in a multifaith society

Richard Sudworth
Bletchley: Scripture Union, 2007

Richard Sudworth, who is based in Birmingham but was previously in North Africa, is a consultant with the organisation ‘Faith to Faith’. Our partners, Urban Expression, have appreciated his input into the Crucible course each year, as he reflects with students on the implications for urban mission of living in a multi-cultural and multi-faith society.

This very accessible and engaging book explores many different aspects of Christian presence and witness in a multi-faith society. Refusing to be pigeon-holed by popular labels (such as exclusivist, inclusivist or pluralist) and rejecting the polarities often encountered in discussions about relations between different faith communities, the author sets out his vision of Christians interacting honestly and graciously with others. True friendship, he argues, respects differences as well as seeking common ground. It is not apologetic about distinctive identities but welcomes the other as a conversation partner.

The final chapter sets the discussion firmly in a post-Christendom context – not only recommending Post-Christendom: church and mission in a strange new world as further reading, but arguing that our emerging post-Christendom context requires us to think in fresh ways about how Christians relate to other faith communities.

Combining analysis, stories, biblical reflections, suggestions for further reading and summary guidelines, this is a very helpful introduction to various aspects of ministry in a multi-faith society: evangelism, community action, youth work, reconciliation, church and spirituality. Richard’s style is relaxed but his passion for the ‘distinctly welcoming’ approach he advocates is very evident. Well worth reading and using in discussion groups.

Stuart Murray Williams