“The book had an impact on my faith because the authors voiced what I have been feeling for years about where God is to be found in the natural world, in all other people and in their various faiths…”

“I have become more aware of the need to be open to other peoples truth and sensitive to their perspective…”

“This is a relief because it takes dogma out of belief and allows us to accept everyone as they are.”

A small group from Cheltenham-Mentone UC gathered to read and discuss a short but challenging book about faith, culture and gospel called Decolonizing Evangelicalism by Bo Sanders and Randy Woodley. The group came from the congregation’s Mission Pilot Team, some of whom wanted to delve deeper into the meaning of mission.

We decided to make the discussion opt in rather than a whole group discussion. In hindsight this was a wise move. The concepts of the book can be challenging to our faith concepts, and we found it productive to explore with people who were keen, interested and open to the journey. Our group consisted of six people plus Rev. Dev Anandarajan who guided us in our discussion. Dev’s previous knowledge of the book, his faith experience from a different cultural background and personal sharing of stories, helped created a supportive environment for personal and group reflection.

Some of our learnings:-

  • Our experience and understanding of our faith comes out of our particular cultural background, and is not necessarily the only way God works with people.
  • Concepts like salvation, original sin, forgiveness and love, have particular meanings in the spread of Western Christianity.
  • Awareness of how our prejudices are an impediment to seeing God’s action and presence with other people.
  • Other cultures, including indigenous have a different understanding of how God works in the world.
  • Recognising that God has and is at work in all cultural groups.
  • The stories of indigenous groups can enable us to see fresh insights into God’s love for the whole world.
  • It is important to listen to peoples stories, their experience of God, especially when it is different from our experience
  • Shalom is one of the key values and images for salvation in the bible.
  • Our Post-Colonial faith lives share values of respect for all creation, seeking harmony and co-operation, speaking from the heart and living recognising we are all interconnected and related

Greg Fry
Cheltenham-Mentone UC

A book group is a great opportunity for more in-depth exploration and conversation. There’s a bonus in people only needing to commit themselves for several weeks.