If you swear that you never tense up when talking about race, I know at least one of two things is true: you’ve never actually talked with anyone about race, or you’re not an American. If you talk about race with any regularity, you have the scars to show for it.

Isaac Adams dares where angels fear to tread. In his new book, Talking about Race: Gospel Hope for Hard Conversations (Zondervan Reflective), Adams argues that if we could just hold tight to our beliefs—and also sometimes hold our tongues—loving people from other races in the American church “could become one of the most powerful testimonies to a divided and dividing world.”

Adams serves as lead pastor of Iron City Church in Birmingham, Alabama. Before moving south he served on the pastoral staff of Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. You can also check him out as founder of United? We Pray. I love his motivation for this book. He writes, “We want to raise a generation of children who are not afraid to confront the struggles of racism in our country head-on.”

You’ll find a wonderful, biblical balance in Talking about Race. Adams knows when to step on toes and when to bandage skinned knees. He has the shepherd’s touch. To someone who refuses to see racism today, he says, “Even though we did not participate directly in acts of the past, we are in no way freed from living in their shadow.” And to the person who can’t see any progress in fighting racism today, he says that what’s happening nationally isn’t necessarily happening locally. In other words, be careful not to blame your church for what a different church has said or done. As you read Adams, you’ll alternate between writing “ouch” and “amen” in the margins of Taking about Race.

Adams joined me on Gospelbound to explain blocking, race as a “Velcro issue,” abortion, cultural preferences, and the mission of the church, among other topics.