Christianity Today Award of Merit
Heaven is multiethnic. Are you ready for that?
The Bible tells us that the congregation gathered around God's heavenly throne will be "a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language," all singing the praises of the Lamb. God's intention has always been to delight for all eternity in a redeemed community of ethnic diversity.
But this diverse community shouldn't have to wait until eternity to begin! It can be a reality in our own local churches here and now. Patterned after a worship service, In Church as It Is in Heaven gives biblical warrant for such a community and shows how multiethnic churches provide a unique apologetic for the gospel. Along the way, the authors tell the story of their own church—a majority-white congregation which is being transformed into a family that reflects the diversity of heaven.
The multiethnic kingdom is not just a nice idea, or an abstract theory. It's a reality—one we can enter into today.
This book can be used in your small groups and Sunday school classes alongside the free companion video curriculum and downloadable discussion guide. The six video sessions from authors Jamaal E. Williams and Timothy Paul Jones are around 20 minutes each in length, covering topics like:
"Jamaal Williams and Timothy Paul Jones do the body of Christ a great service with their book. It allows readers to consider the joys and challenges of creating a multiracial Christian church and ministry. Such ministries are badly needed in a post-Christian America that is racially divided. But these ministries need to be accomplished with careful thought and planning. In Church as It Is in Heaven provides great insight that allows for such thinking and planning to take place."
"As the authors express in this book, my heart and hopes for churches on earth have been guided by the eschatological vision of the church in heaven found in Revelation 7. In Church as It Is in Heaven helps us get there. It is outstanding; I could not put it down. Any church or Christian captivated by God's promise for his church in eternity will be blessed, convicted, edified, and encouraged by this work. Thank you, my brothers. What a gift you have given us."
"Some have given up on a biblical vision of racial justice, morality, and reconciliation. Jamaal Williams and Timothy Paul Jones have not. This book is a practical guide that gives up neither sober realism nor kingdom hope."
"What I love about this book is how Jamaal Williams and Timothy Paul Jones encourage a communal solution to a communal problem. So many treatments on this topic ask what people can do individually and don't seek larger transformation. Framing the book around liturgy and the habits that form us was a compelling contribution. I encourage all who long for unity instead of division to pick this book up. May it be in the church as it is in heaven."
"In Church as It Is in Heaven casts a biblically and theologically grounded vision of a multiethnic community. Neither Jamaal Williams nor Timothy Paul Jones sugarcoat that vision. For them, being authentically multiethnic means intertwining dreams and broken dreams, rich and nearly impossible-to-maintain crosscultural relationships, promises and betrayal, stereotypes surfaced then broken. Many churches like the idea of being diverse but ditch the process when the road gets too bumpy and costly; a minuscule handful are authentically multiethnic in the fullest sense. In Church as It Is in Heaven is the still-unfolding story of one church in Kentucky that is refusing to abandon the process."
"'[Our] destinies are tied together.' Dr. King's insight is true for society as a whole and even more so for the church. This book provides a faithful and practical path for the church to pursue our unity mandate."
"People often talk about how divided our churches are when it comes to race and ethnicity, but few local church ministers know where to begin to make practical changes. This is why I'm so thankful for In Church as It Is in Heaven. Jamaal Williams and Timothy Paul Jones speak not only from their theological training but their pastoral experience as well. They have lived it together, and we benefit from their wisdom."
"In the last ten years, we have seen vivid reminders that we still have extensive work to do for racial reconciliation in our country and in our churches. If we were once able to think that these problems were behind us, recent struggles have made it clear that they are not. As believers, we should not just want a resolution to the racial divides, but we should also want to see the people of God lead the way. As such, this work by Jamaal Williams and Timothy Paul Jones is an important contribution to this ongoing work that deserves a careful reading."
"Conviction, camaraderie, hope—these are just a few things I felt reading In Church as It Is in Heaven. Jamaal Williams and Timothy Paul Jones write not as those who have reached the destination but as those inviting us to come along with them on the journey of pursuing multiethnic congregations. Best of all, the book is rooted in Scripture and has a lot of practical advice. It brings a conversation often up in the clouds down to the ground. This is a welcome and welcoming guide for all those eager to show the world we are Jesus' disciples by the way we love one another."
"Questions of diversity, harmony, and reconciliation are unavoidable today. Most of us are somewhere between unprepared and unwilling to have these necessary conversations—which is a problem given that God intends the kingdom of heaven to include people from every tribe, nation, and tongue. To close the gap between God's intention for the kingdom and our personal preparedness, we need experienced Christian leaders with biblical vision and gracious hearts to shepherd us. This is precisely what Jamaal Williams and Timothy Paul Jones offer us with In Church as It Is in Heaven. Here's a book with potential for renewing the church's longing for the things God finds beautiful in the kingdom."
"Jamaal Williams and Timothy Paul Jones rightfully posit excellent scholarship with heedful nuance inside a framework of biblical ecclesiology. In Church as It Is in Heaven is a timely resource interacting with primary sources alongside logical arguments guiding the reader toward healthy application. Although the truth hurts when communicated, we would be remiss in failing to admit it provides a pathway to holistic healing only found in Christ. Williams and Jones are pastoral and prophetic truth tellers unmasking the deceptions of the evil one regarding individual, interpersonal, and local church institutional misunderstanding, sin, and tensions grounded in race. I will be recommending this text for the living stones Jesus redeemed for years to come."
"As a fellow kingdom laborer, I value voices that are grounded in biblical truth and straightforward about the realities of building a multicultural church. Pastor Jamaal and Pastor Timothy call us up to God's vision while honestly unpacking the joy, the pain, and the sacrifices in maintaining intentional multiethnic kingdom ministry. I hope many leaders will count the cost and choose to apply the liturgies and practices laid out in this book. Just like the early church in Acts, we can bear a wonderful witness of how the power of the Holy Spirit binds unlikely people together in unity and justice."
"In this thoughtful entry, pastors Williams and Jones . . . present a convincing case for the value of multiethnic church communities. . . . The authors strike a tone that’s frank but optimistic, and are clear-eyed about the challenges of turning the ideal of diversity into its often messy lived reality. Pastors and churchgoers eager to expand their horizons will be edified."
Introduction: Broken City, Broken World
Part 1. Call to Worship: Learning to Love Multiethnic Kingdom Culture
1. The Evidence That Our World Has Yet to See
2. The Gap in Our Love
3. Liturgies of Love and Longing
Part 2. Lament: Grieving What Stands in the Way of Multiethnic Kingdom Culture
4. Lamenting the Wound
5. The Lies That Blind Us to the Ties That Bind Us
6. Liturgies of Lament
Part 3. Offering: Giving for the Sake of Multiethnic Kingdom Culture
7. Seeing Both Sides of the Ball
8. How God Made a Holy Mess and Turned It into a Heavenly Movement
9. Liturgies of Giving
Part 4. Passing the Peace: Welcoming One Another in a Multiethnic Kingdom Culture
10. Going to War by Passing the Peace
11. White Is Not a Neutral Color
12. Liturgies of Hospitality
Part 5. Communion: Feasting Together on the Victory Jesus Won
13. Knowing Your Place
14. Building Up Walls That Jesus Already Broke Down
15. Liturgies of Communion
Benediction: A Blessing for the Road
Afterword by Jarvis J. Williams