Rediscipling the White Church

Rediscipling the White Church

From Cheap Diversity to True Solidarity

by David W. Swanson
Foreword by Brenda Salter McNeil

Rediscipling the White Church
  • Length: 160 pages
  • Published: May 19, 2020
  •  Forthcoming
  • ISBN: 978-0-8308-4597-2
  • Item Code: 4597
  • Case Quantity: 64

"Many white Christians across America are waking up to the fact that something is seriously wrong—but often this is where we get stuck."

Confronted by the deep-rooted racial injustice in our society, many white Christians instinctively scramble to add diversity to their churches and ministries. But is diversity really the answer to the widespread racial dysfunction we see in the church?

In this simple but powerful book, Pastor David Swanson contends that discipleship, not diversity, lies at the heart of our white churches' racial brokenness. Before white churches can pursue diversity, he argues, we must first take steps to address the faulty discipleship that has led to our segregation in the first place. Drawing on the work of philosopher James K. A. Smith and others, Swanson proposes that we rethink our churches' habits, or liturgies, and imagine together holistic, communal discipleship practices that can reform us as members of Christ's diverse body.

"David offers a new discipleship pathway by speaking honestly and precisely to white people and elevating the voices and histories of people of color, who have been calling for a more honest conversation about faith and race all along. Rediscipling the White Church is a unique contribution to this discussion because, unlike other white people who keep denying it, David tells the truth about the reality of whiteness in the church and society. . . . David knows that racism is insidious, and he has chosen to expose how it operates so we can all see it and be healed of its power and influence over us. I can't think of anybody I trust more to write this important book."

Brenda Salter McNeil, from the foreword

"There are few pastors I trust more to take on a major task like this. David is an astute theologian and is well trained and positioned to lead this conversation. Just as importantly, David is a respected and credible practitioner. He is highly regarded in the city of Chicago for his humility, his tenacity, and his commitment to first experiencing the necessary rediscipling in his own life. If you are a white Christian longing for a resource that will help you name where things went wrong and create a roadmap for how to get realigned with King Jesus, this is your book."

Daniel Hill, pastor, author of White Awake

"David brings a fresh lens not just in how to view the state of race in the church but how to address it. He integrates the practices of any congregation, including children, with God's call toward unity across race and toward addressing the systems of racial oppression in both the church and in the world. His emphasis on our communal discipleship is a great addition to the resources available to the white church to understand their history and role in reconciliation and justice."

Sandra Maria Van Opstal, founding executive director of Chasing Justice

"This book does not ask you to diversify your congregation. Instead it invites you to join the reconciled body of Christ. To that end, David Swanson has reimagined how to leverage the features of worship and service you already use—preaching, communion, children's ministry, evangelism, and more—to disciple the congregation you already have, regardless of its racial makeup. This is clear-headed, concrete guidance from a humble and experienced leader."

Brandon J. O'Brien, director of content for Redeemer City to City, coauthor of Misreading Scripture with Western Eyes

"David Swanson takes a deep dive into the very formation process for white Christians—discipleship. This new and altered rediscipleship, designed under the influence of mentors of color, addresses structures of white supremacy, privilege, and segregation. Simultaneously, it reforms white Christians using the central structures of church life—worship, preaching, fellowship, and the like. I know Daniel Swanson. He has been thoroughly rediscipled himself before inviting others to embrace the journey he proposes."

Curtiss Paul DeYoung, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches

"David Swanson is a fresh and needed voice in our day. In this important book he treats the challenges of race from the most important starting point: discipleship. While diversity is a great thing, the church (and in particular the white church David writes to) needs a broader vision of what it means to follow Jesus in this arena. I'm so glad he has provided a powerful vision for the flourishing of the church!"

Rich Villodas, lead pastor, New Life Fellowship, New York City

"Rediscipling the White Church illuminates the worldviews and customs hindering white Christianity's witness. Swanson prophetically models how confession, repentance, and renewed minds liberate captive congregations and embolden them to holistically redefine discipleship. Through reimagined liturgical, spiritual, and ecclesial practices, this book offers a tangible framework for producing Christlike disciples who will in turn make Christlike disciples."

Dominique DuBois Gilliard, author of Rethinking Incarceration

"'Rediscipling' is the operative assertion and action at the heart of David Swanson's powerful book about the white church. This means for him that exposing and dismantling racism in the church is not primarily a political task but a spiritual and theological one. It has to do with a deep reformation of Christian practice that reflects the just heart of God rather than hiding racial injustice within sometimes false language and practices of Christian faith. Swanson's book and his example, interacting with key insights from James K. A. Smith, present a raw, compelling, and urgent call."

Mark Labberton, president of Fuller Theological Seminary


Foreword by Brenda Salter McNeil

Introduction to Part One: From Cheap Diversity . . .
1 Discipled by Race
2 Concealed by Race
3 Wounded by Race

Introduction to Part Two: . . . To True Solidarity.
4 Practicing Table Fellowship
5 Practicing Kingdom Preaching
6 Practicing Subversive Liturgies
7 Practicing Children's Ministry of Reconciliation
8 Practicing Presence
9 Practicing Salvation from Supremacy
10 Practicing Uncommon Friendship


David W. Swanson

David W. Swanson is the pastor of New Community Covenant Church, a multicultural congregation in Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood. He helps lead New Community Outreach, a nonprofit that collaborates with the community to reduce sources of trauma, and speaks around the country on the topics of racial justice and reconciliation. He has written articles for Christianity Today, The Englewood Review of Books, and The Covenant Companion. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two sons.

BY David W. Swanson

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