Interpretive Leadership and Cultural Intelligence

A Pathway toward Christian Unity
  • Craig S. Hendrickson
Part of the Pathways for Ecumenical and Interreligious Dialogue book series (PEID)


It is often said that you should pay attention to someone’s last words, as they are likely to convey what is most important to them. How important should it be, then, for the church to pay attention to the final prayer uttered by Jesus on the eve of his impending crucifixion? For it is in this prayer in John 17 that Jesus reminds his disciples of the importance of their continued unity if the world is to recognize Jesus’s Sonship and, by extension, if it is to see him as the Messiah and the Church as his apostolic people. In many ways, however, it appears that the Church today remains fragmented across racial, cultural, tribal, socioeconomic, and denominational lines. Consider, for example, that less than one in nineteen Christian congregations in the United States could be considered multiracial at the turn of the millennium using even liberal standards.1 Or consider that the largest Protestant grouping in the world—Baptists—is actually composed of at least 221 separate Baptist denominations, many of which do not associate with one another.2 What does this lack of racial integration in Christian churches, or lack of doctrinal agreement within the largest evangelical faith tradition, say about the condition of the church’s unity today?


Grand Rapid Cultural Awareness Christian Mission Intercultural Interaction Local Congregation 
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© Craig S. Hendrickson 2016

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  • Craig S. Hendrickson

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