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Summary

A clear and compelling discussion of how the church can better reach, support and champion black congregation members.  

From the UK church’s complicity in the transatlantic slave trade to the whitewashing of Christianity throughout history, the church has a lot to answer for when it comes to race relations. Christianity has been dubbed the white man’s religion, yet the Bible speaks of an impartial God and shows us a diverse body of believers.  

It’s time for the church to start talking about race. Ben Lindsay offers eye-opening insights into the black religious experience, challenging the status quo in white majority churches. Filled with examples from real-life stories, including his own, and insightful questions, this book offers a comprehensive analysis of race relations in the church in the UK and shows us how we can work together to create a truly inclusive church community.  

About the author: Ben Lindsay is a pastor at Emmanuel Church London. He is passionate about inclusion and wants to see a racially diverse church that better serves and represents the local context. Ben is CEO and founder of Power the Fight, a charity empowering communities to end youth violence. He has a background working in local government and the charity sector. This is his first book.

©2019 Ben Lindsay, SPCK (P)2019 SPCK, Spokenworld Audio & Ladbroke Audio Ltd

Critic reviews

"Ben Lindsay’s book is a must-listen for the UK church. He is lucid, punchy and deeply honest about the issue of racism in the UK today, and in the UK church. It is my prayer that we heed this call and respond together to the mandate to challenge discrimination in all its forms." (Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury)

"This is one of the most important books to be written in recent years and is essential reading for every Christian and especially every church leader in the UK. Ben puts on speakerphone the voices of people of colour which are often whispered or silent and invites us to listen." (Selina Stone, Lecturer in Political Theology, St Mellitus College)

"Too often Christians have assumed that being colour blind is the best way to approach race and ethnicity in the church. Ben Lindsay’s compelling book opens our eyes to this naivety and challenges us to be willing to have a more serious conversation. At this critical moment in our national life where race, immigration and the UK’s relationship with the world is being negotiated, this important and timely book needs to be discussed and acted upon."(Dr Krish Kandiah: Founding Director, Home for Good, author of God Is Stranger)  

What listeners say about We Need to Talk About Race

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    3 out of 5 stars

Very useful, with some questionable points

In general, I thought this was a very solid book. Ben Lindsay does a great job of explaining the difficulties that BAME people face in a church context. This is particularly the case in respect of feelings – for example: How do certain words, actions, appearances, and facts make black people feel in church? What impact does the historic slave trade have, in the present? What is the difference between tokenism and actual representation – and in what ways does this distinction matter? I found considering these questions, and others, very useful. The “performance” – it always feels odd using that word in this context – in the audiobook was also excellent. I don’t want the sincerity of the above paragraph to be underestimated simply because of the overall rating I’m giving to the book: I would have given 5 stars to large swathes of it. However, there were a few distinct issues/questions which troubled me. Theology: In certain parts of the book, it seems like Ben is presenting theology as solely a racial issue, and not a question of truth. For example: i) He implies that some churches select pastors from certain “white” theological colleges, rather than “black” ones. In my experience, this question has never been about race, but about doctrine. A (theologically) liberal church will never hire a pastor from a (theologically) conservative college, and vice-versa; a Baptist church will not hire someone from Edgehill (Methodist), nor will a Pentecostal church hire someone from Oakhill (Reformed Anglican). ii) One seminary graduate notes that it always felt like black churches were the butt of jokes in the seminary. While I do not like this kind of trivialising behaviour in seminaries, I would wager – from experience – that the same seminaries joking about (mostly black) Pentecostal churches would also put down white “pastors” such as Osteen, Copeland, Meyer, etc., as well as predominantly white groups such as Bethel and Hillsong. The key seems to be theology, rather than race. iii) I would agree with the author’s conclusions on Moses vs. Paul, in terms of the result of overemphasising Paul to the exclusion of Moses. However, I do note that he does not constructively criticise an overemphasis on Moses, leading to the impression that he views the “black church” view – which, again, is primarily a *theological* point – as superior. Reparations: I do not think that any solutions were provided to square the circle of: i) discussing inter-racial relations & reparations in a way that does not stray too far from economic redress (whatever “not straying too far” would look like); and ii) not visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children. Statistics: Growing churches & growing communities Ben repeatedly remarks on the growth of black churches in the UK. He also notes, separately, that BAME communities are projected to make up approx. one-third of the UK’s population in a relatively short timespan. I work in statistics, and one of my pet peeves is what I’ll call the “assumed driver”. In this case, the assumed driver of growth in black churches seems to be a better preaching of the gospel. However, looking at the statistical growth in the number of black people in the UK over the past number of years, this seems to be a very strong driver, in its own right. Because of my background, this lack of discussion on the influence of demographic changes may affect *my* review of the book significantly more than it would affect somebody else’s. Facts: Trump It is stated that Donald Trump did not condemn the white supremacists at Charlottesville. This is false. I do not like Trump, but he did condemn white supremacists in his speech, and has done so more than 25 times in the past 4 years. These occasions can be found quite easily, online, if you care to look. He may be a racist, but we cannot extend beyond the facts in supporting that claim.

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  • Jo
  • 24-08-20

So useful for people of all races

It's made me think how my own church and me personally need to get more involved in social justice and not just social welfare.

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A necessary and compelling audiobook

I devoured this audiobook from the moment I pressed play. The author presents some powerful observations and truths around race in a way anyone could consume. Black or white this is a book you will want to finish. It’s read fantastically by the author as well which makes this even more truthful on listen. Thank you Ben for this fantastic God given book.

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What the uk church needs to hear

As a white church leader in a multicultural area, this book resonated with me. Ben explains the issues, but this book is also hope filled with reflections and practical actions we can all take to ending racism in the UK church.

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This was brilliant

Authentic and timely topic.I'm sure many BAME/POC people will appreciate this book. It is recommended reading!

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Excellent & Challenging

Excellent. A challenge from Ben Lindsay that the church should be radically inclusive to those from all racial backgrounds. Not just in it's contextualisation of the gospel but in the leadership structures too. We cannot settle for ticking the 'diversity' box or squash cultural backgrounds. For too long have we paid little attention to the biblical call to multi-racial unity.

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Absolutely brilliant book

A must read for all Christians especially for leaders in a white majority context. This is an eye opening experience

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Excellent work and inspirational

As a black Christian growing up in the UK much of this book highlights everyday prejudice faced here in the UK and the Church as a whole. my favourite description used is the heavy raincoat as a symbol of taking off the heavy burden of racism when you get home.

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Challenging & Inspirational for all Christians

I have just finished my first listening of Ben Lindsay’s “We Need to Talk About Race” but I will certainly be listening to it again in the whole as well as following up on saved clips. Ben gives challenge to all Christians but surrounds this with inspirational self-considerations. I was particularly struck by the included content from women of colour. There are many thoughts that I will be taking away from this first listening but what is already firmly in my mind is that inactivity supports injustice both as individuals and as churches. I highly recommend this book by Ben Lindsay.

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A must read

A must read for ALL church members but especially for white leaders in the UK.

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  • Isaac Moore
  • 11-02-20

Must read for all Western Church leaders

As a white man I found this book incredibly convicting, informative, and helpful as I wrestle with the reality if my own privilege and seek to be advocate for my black brothers and sisters.