Multicultural Churchplanting, Wisdom Or Folly?
My personal journey towards multicultural church planting wasn't coincidence.
That journey was planned for me before I gave much thought to things multicultural.
So is it natural to love and plant multicultural churches?
Is a gift to us from the heart of God?
The expression of God's image through us partly comes through our cultural variety.
That's part of the wisdom of multicultural church. But all human beings fall short in reflecting God's glory. All life and culture is affected by sin. Churches, too, anywhere on the planet will fall short in some respects. Multicultural churches won't be an exception. To imagine otherwise is folly. If you've ever worshipped with a multicultural assembly, you might've heard,
"This is just a sample of what heaven must be like when every tribe and tongue bows before King Jesus."I never tire of hearing that. But for church like this to last and grow, you'll also find in worship the smell of sacrifice, where people bring their own cultural preference to worship, and sacrifice a significant portion of what they like, so that other cultures also find expression to the glory of God. Multicultural church can't work without some sacrifice.
Beautiful as it can be, in all relationships, especially cross-cultural relationships, there will be times when not everybody feels the love. Our Savior's insistence that we love one another will be tested, in multicultural church. We have to be willing to slay the distrusting of other races, classes, and cultures we tend to bring with us through the church doors. We have to risk really acting upon the belief that our deepest identity is with Jesus, the last Adam. Not defined by places where ancestors lived.
Church Planting is challenging as it is. Multicultural planting? More so.When you're 8 months into it, amazed that multicultural church takes lots more planning, time and work, will you view it as a noble experiment or the kind of church you were really called by God to plant? Whatever others think, (some this, some that) ...
... will you say to your own soul it was wisdom or folly?
If you do believe you are called to plant that kind of church, you are not alone.
But we are still in the church planting minority. According to an article by Karen Giesen in July, 2016 there are still only 5% of American Protestant churches that qualify by socioliologists' definition as multicultural. But my bias is that the Spirit of God is stirring more church planters with this burden instilled in their hearts in our days.
Here are a few points to take to heart.You can't do it alone. You need to network with others: leaders and passionate practitioners involved in creating multicultural outreach and fellowship expressions.
You can't do it alone. Your leadership needs a range of cultural backgrounds with not a hint of tokenism--more than a sprinkling of diversity on your praise team, the occasional tune in Spanish or urban gospel number. Is there shared leadership in your church planting team that's not dominated by a majority culture?Make it evident every week on the platform, in small groups, around the table, and in who's making decisions about ministry.
Real unity is required. Real unity takes humility and forgiveness. Real unity is what the Spirit wants to cultivate, and what the devil would dismantle when we're disappointed that hearts and ways don't change as quickly or consistently as we might hope. But our prayers are heard, our faith honored, and God's grace is always sufficient.
Finally, multiculturalism itself isn't your reason for being. The gospel is. You DO want the church to breath and bred the truth that God is the God of every place and time, and that Jesus is Lord of all. You DO want your church to be a sign to our generation of the universal power of the Word we preach and the oneness we share through Christ. You DON'T want anyone to infer that being multicultural IS your message.
Would you like to meet some church planters with the courage and faith to go there?
Give me a call. Stay connected. Such churches have a special witness of Jesus as Healer.