Preaching with Cultural Intelligence

Preaching with Cultural Intelligence has made a positive impression by winning the ‘2018 Preaching Book of the Year’ from Preaching Magazine. The author, Matthew Kim, is the associate professor of preaching and ministry at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary as well as an experienced teaching pastor. His interaction with otherness, cultural intelligence, hermeneutics, and homiletics profoundly addresses the role of the pulpit as a place to communicate acceptance. This book is important to academics and practioners in cross-cultural communication because it brings cultural intelligence into the life of the church as a demonstration of God’s love.

The author highlights the fact that increasing diversity is an ever growing reality for those who live in the United States. Society has become increasingly multi-cultural yet the church has been slow to adapt to this change with many churches embracing the same practices over the last 30 years or more without acknowledging the importance of the ‘Others’ in their communities. Kim expresses that the need for relevance within culture is more pressing than ever and provides a practical model for preaching that engages hermeneutics (interpreting text and context), anthropology (understanding our audience), and homiletics (delivering truth as a relevant message).

The author points out that preaching with cultural intelligence connects the message to the audience to clearly communicate acceptance of the ‘Other’. The first half of the book addresses the theory and practice of cultural intelligence while the second half explores the audience’s cultural context through the categories of denomination, ethnicity, gender, location, and religion.

The author points out that cultural intelligence builds bridges for people to understand each other’s way of living, thinking and behaving. It moves the preacher beyond their cultural boundaries and expands their ability to see through the eyes of the ‘Others’ which he notes is a core value of relevant preaching. The author offers comprehensive models which demonstrate how the biblical text interacts with culture, the translation of biblical to contemporary culture and the audience can be addressed appropriately. These are pathways to communicate with cultural intelligence for those who serve in the pulpit which emphasize the importance of bringing scripture to life for a diverse audience. The author ends the section on theory by addressing the importance of the preacher’s self-awareness in relationship to their audience.

The second part of the book addresses practical application as the author uses his models and demonstrates how they apply to denominational, ethnic, gender, geographic, and religious diversity. He unpacks the models in a step by step format for each of the diverse groups that he addresses in the book. The book concludes with several appendixes so that his models can be used practically in the life of the preacher.

While the author provides an extensive model for contextualization of preaching, he falls short in the area of building relationships with the people who make up the diverse groups that he addresses. One weakness in his discussion of cultural intelligence is to focus on the scholastic aspect without providing much guidance in the relational aspects of developing cultural intelligence. There is a need to engage otherness that transcends the pulpit in the life of the preacher so that knowing the other brings Miroslav Volf’s concept of ‘double-vision’ to life. This area of relationship merits deeper discussion in developing a cultural intelligence that embraces and accepts the other. Building relationships with the other would bring compassion to pulpit that can’t be achieved through other means.

Overall, the author removes the mystery of preaching with cultural intelligence through his clear examples and specific applications. He makes clear that cultural intelligence demonstrates the preacher’s love for God and for the ‘Other’ thus making it relevant for every congregation. The author’s book is a timely explanation of the interaction of culture and discourse in preaching which can be recommended for preachers, teachers, and those who want to converse well with the ‘Others’ in their lives.


Bud Simon

A mission consultant who served twenty years as a missionary in Brazil preaching and planting churches. He is working on his PhD at Asbury Theological Seminary with a focus on honor & shame.


Categories: (M) Book Review

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