I first heard Brenda Salter McNeil speak when I was the Youth Pastor at a multi-ethnic congregation in the suburbs. Knee-deep in the (often) painful reality of cross-cultural ministry, I found her words both challenging and inspiring.
Now, in a time when near constant headlines about racial inequalities draw attention to white privilege and the disparity between races in our nation, Brenda's book, Roadmap to Reconciliation, is a timely, practical work about an incredibly important issue.
In Roadmap to Reconciliation, Brenda begins by defining reconciliation as an “ongoing spiritual process involving forgiveness, repentance, and justice that restores broken relationships and systems to God's original intention for the world.” She brings us face to face with the hard truth that “one cannot reconcile those who have never enjoyed a conciliatory relationship in the first place” before reminding readers that “there is no sustained peace without justice and no sustained relationship without forgiveness.” To that end, Brenda posits that reconciliation is a spiritual process that “requires a posture of hope in the reconciling work of Christ and a commitment from the church to both be and proclaim this type of reconciled community.”
What sets Brenda's work apart from others is it's practical nature. Much of Roadmap to Reconciliation is focused on exploring the five primary landmarks that Brenda identifies as part of the reconciliation roadmap: catalytic events, realization, identification, preparation, and activation. A chapter is devoted to each landmark and each is filled with stories of people and congregations that have experienced transformation as a result of working through this process. The discussion questions found at the end of each chapter are well-suited for both individual reflection and group discussion and are designed to help readers translate a theology of reconciliation into practical actions.
Since Roadmap to Reconciliation is highly accessible, it's a great primer for staffs and even congregations to work through in order to better understand their role in the ministry of reconciliation – a ministry that all people of faith are called to.
Disclosure: I received a free copy of Roadmap to Reconciliation in exchange for a fair and honest review.