Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sully Notes 9 | Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church: Mandate, Commitments and Practices of a Diverse Congregation Part 2 of 3

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 Transcultural Multiethnic Church Sully Notes 9 Part 2

Sully Notes 9: Books in 25 minutes or less

Sully Notes are more than a book review. They are meant to provide you with direct quotes from some books I've read in the last year, so you can get a taste of the overall theme of the book and then begin to chew on what your life might look like if you applied what you read. 

Here are links to the previous Sully Notes books:

And here is last week's post:

Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church | Sully Notes 9: Part 2 of 3

Part Two: The Seven Core Commitments of a Multi-Ethnic Church Chapter 6: (3 of 7) Empower Diverse Leadership

“ … the leadership at the church in Antioch (Acts 11:19-25; 13:1) serves as a model for enlisting diverse leadership within a local church setting. So here again, we should ask, Why was Luke compelled, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, not only to mention the names of the men involved as prophets and teachers at Antioch but their country of origin as well? Was it not to make clear that the church, like the Gospel itself, is for all people? Was it not to suggest that such a diverse team is best fit for leadership in a ‘house of prayer for all the nations’ (Isaiah 56:7)? In addition, we might also ask why Paul selects Timothy to join himself and Silas in delivering to the churches in Syria and Cilicia ‘the decisions reached by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem for the people to obey’ (Acts 15:41; 16:4, 15). Surely, it was not only because ‘the brothers at Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him’ (Acts 16:2). Was it not also because Timothy was ‘bi-cultural’ (Acts 16:1) and, therefore, a living example of the fact that the Gospel, like the church, is available to all who would come? Such examples should inform the development of leadership in a healthy multi-ethnic church. And when it comes to staffing, planters and reformers alike should staff for diversity, from the pulpit to the nursery and everywhere in between. This is the ‘put your money where your mouth is’ commitment!” – pg. 71

Diverse individuals of godly character, theological agreement, and shared vision do not just arrive on waves of whim. Rather, they must be intentionally sought. Like the best of college coaches, multi-ethnic church planters and reformers must continually be on the lookout for potential recruits. When we find them, we should establish a dialogue, mindful that there may be an opportunity for formal partnership together at some point in the future.” – pg. 72

“(advice from an African American pastor) … do not seek diverse individuals simply for the sake of diversity … they should be men and women of sound integrity, theological unity, and shared vision … and never presume to have achieved integration simply because diverse individuals are involved. … Perceptions should also be considered and overcome for the sake of your vision … (for example) if you hire or otherwise empower African Americans only to lead your church in worship, you may inadvertently suggest to people, ‘We accept them as entertainers.’ Or if you hire or otherwise empower African Americans only to work with your children, you may inadvertently suggest, ‘We accept them to nanny our kids.’ And if you hire or otherwise employ African Americans only as janitors, you are quite clearly stating, ‘We expect them to clean up after us.’ It is only when you allow us to share your pulpit, to serve with you on the elder board or alongside you in apportioning the money that we will be truly one with you in the church.” – pg. 74

“If you are planting a church, begin with a diverse team of people empowered to fulfill initial roles of leadership. In this way, there will be no confusion that people are being ‘propped up after the fact’ to accomplish what some may then deride as your own agenda. Even if there is no money to hire additional staff, diverse volunteers can be positioned for maximum impact.” – pg. 77

Chapter 7 | (4 of 7) Develop Cross-Cultural Relationships 

“ … have you ever stopped to consider that the local church is the only major institution in our society in which segregation is allowable by law, in light of the judicial principle known as the ‘separation of church and state?’ Indeed, the segregation of the church is not only allowable but seems quite acceptable to the vast majority of believers and church leaders throughout the United States who see nothing at all wrong with this picture. Is it not, however, the law of love (Matthew 22:36-40) that should inform us in the matter?” – pg. 82

… when entire cultures come together under one roof, the challenges are much greater. But so are the joys of overcoming them! Mutual understanding, respect, and appreciation, however, will develop only through a firm commitment to one another, over time. And these we should pursue, not simply for the sake of diversity but, indeed, for a greater good: the expansion of the Gospel through the expression of unity in and through the local church. … Should we fail to develop such relationships, we will fail to realize the very church we have committed ourselves to building. … we should provide opportunities for open dialogue and commend those with the courage to discuss such things, as well as the determination to deal with them.– pgs. 83-84

“ … the first members of Mosaic made the decision early on to gather monthly in small groups … to experience two of the four values (of Acts 2:42), namely, fellowship and the breaking of bread. Twice a month throughout the first three years of the church, these groups met in homes. … Each group reflected the diversity of Mosaic and included individuals of varying ethnicity, economic means, and generational status, both single and married people alike. Children were also welcomed as members of the group. Typically, the meetings began with spontaneous fellowship around a meal. Later, the entire group would gather for a brief time of interaction. … Through these groups, Mosaic developed authentic friendships with diverse others attending the church, which led to expanded relationships of transparency and trust. The groups themselves were dynamic, and members were encouraged to bring others (whether Christian or not) to share in the experience. In addition, we modeled our faith and our unity before our children.” – pgs. 86-87

… cross-cultural relationships are often as difficult to navigate as the relationship of a man and woman in marriage: two demonstrably different people, two different personalities, two perspectives, and two pasts. Like partners in a healthy marriage then, people in a multi-ethnic church must will themselves to stay engaged relationally with one another, especially in those times when every voice within them begs to leave or return to a more comfortable environment, that is, to a homogenous church. … Like the ‘Prince of Peace’ (Isaiah 9:6), peacemakers are those who love God and others, those who pursue peace without distinction. More specifically, peacemakers are intentional in their pursuit of others for the sake of the Gospel and for walking ‘worthy of the calling you have received’ (Ephesians 4:1-3; see John 17:20-23), they are rightly called the ‘sons of God.’ Indeed, peacemakers are those who are building a healthy multi-ethnic church.– pgs. 89-90

Chapter 8 | (5 of 7) Pursue Cross-Cultural Competence

“ … many African Americans in our church have experienced a number of personal or systemic acts of discrimination throughout their lifetime. And such repeated encounters have made it difficult for them to avoid viewing acts of unfairness, injustice, or insensitivity through a racial grid. On the other hand, many Whites remain largely unaware of their advantaged position in society. They tend to think that Blacks can achieve anything in the United States if they will just take personal responsibility for themselves and work hard in pursuit of their dreams.” – pg. 96

Where evangelism is concerned, this means that we must recognize that it’s not so much our task to take the Gospel to a culture but to share the Gospel through a culture different from our own. Before evangelizing then, we should read books, ask questions, take notes, and, in a variety of ways, acquire understanding of diverse cultures on the front end in order to become increasingly competent in living with and loving people different from ourselves.– pg. 100
Though he created man, Jesus had to become a man in order to save us from our sin. Similarly, pursuit of cross-cultural competence provides us opportunities for incarnational relationships, understanding, and ministry among brothers and sisters different from ourselves. As God among men, Jesus provides us with a perfect model of one who pursues cross-cultural competence with great success.– pg. 101

“ … (pursuing cross-cultural competence) will be an ongoing process … an observable continuum, such as the one developed by Cristina Lopez of the National Council of La Raza … we use it to identify where we are and were we need to be in relating to one another. … We see a cultural continuum as moving from (1) destructiveness to (2) blindness to (3) awareness to (4) sensitivity to (5) competence.– pg. 103

“(4) Cultural sensitivity … involves actively seeking advice and consultation, as well as a commitment to incorporating new knowledge and experiences into a wider range of practice … through the declaration of clear intentions and a sincere expression of heart, the past hurt and rejection in another can be replaced with new hope and that most valued of all commodities – trust.” – pg. 105

“(5) Competence does not assume expertise; it describes a general proficiency in working with people of various cultures. More specifically, it defines individuals who ‘value diversity, conduct self-assessment, manage the dynamics of difference, acquire and institutionalize cultural knowledge and are able to adapt to diversity and the cultural contexts of the communities they serve. … In pursuit of cross-cultural competence, those seeking to establish a multi-ethnic church should surround themselves with cross-culturally competent people who can be trusted to provide insight and training across the board, from the nursery to the pulpit and at every station in between. … Pursuit of cross-cultural competence moves us beyond ourselves toward a deeper understanding of life from another’s perspective. Such reflections should draw us nearer to others who are not like us and, together with them, nearer to Christ in and through the local church.– pg. 105

Chapter 9 | (6 of 7) Promote a Spirit of Inclusion 

“(from Martin Luther King, Jr.) We will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process.” – pg. 108

“ … the multi-ethnic church seeks to bring diverse people together in a countercultural way. In order to establish such a work, church planters and reformers must be willing to put aside their own personal biases and preferences in order to lead others together as one before the Lord. … To build a healthy multi-ethnic church, then, it is in worship that leaders must begin to promote a spirit of inclusion. For example, if the worship format in style and leadership is the same from week to week, it will appeal only to a certain segment of the population; thus a barrier (though perhaps unintended) is erected. Yet by diversifying its worship format – the songs that are sung, the way that they are done, and by whom – a church will demonstrate its (God’s) heart for all people. Beyond this, leaders might also incorporate the prayers of first-generation internationals (prayers spoken in languages other than English) within the context of worship. In so doing, a church will expand its perspective and, in the process, experience a bit of heaven on earth, as diverse people learn to worship God together as one.” – pg. 109-110

… people must be led to understand that the mature church, like the mature believer, ‘do(es) not merely look out for its own interests, but also for the interests of others’ (Philippians 2:4). Indeed, Should we not be thrilled just to have a seat at the table with brothers and sisters in Christ who are different from us? … planters and reformers must lead people to understand that the ‘church is not about you or what you like.’ Rather, it is to be all about Christ and all about others. And I believe we should do all we can to attract as many as we can to come and join the feast (Matthew 22:9; Luke 14:23). With this in mind, a healthy multi-ethnic church is a place in which people are comfortable being uncomfortable. In such a place, members recognize they are part of something much bigger than themselves. Therefore, in obedience to Christ and for the sake of the Gospel, they actively embrace a spirit of inclusion in worship and beyond the predictability of homogeneity.– pg. 110

“ … worship planners should do all they can to guarantee that those involved in leadership are men and women of integrity, those who possess a measure of skill and, more important, a passion for Christ and for the local church. Musicians and singers, then, must be teachable in spirit and, as a whole, flexible and diverse in style. In addition, worship planners should ensure that all things are done decently and in order.” – pg. 110

'After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. … And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘ Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’ (Revelation 7:9-10). What has long intrigued me about this vision is not so much the diversity of those who worship but the fact that a plurality of nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues are somehow able to cry out in a singular voice. More than a dream, then, this is something we should pursue here and now. Indeed, the dream is reality in a healthy multi-ethnic church.– pg. 113

“…all of our signage is produced both in English and Spanish, as are the bulletins and PowerPoint slides. And we fly flags in our worship area to represent the diversity of nations within our body. In addition, we meet in a very large and open space in which you can see almost everything and everyone at once. Such considerations, though seemingly inconsequential, demonstrate to others a great deal about who we are and what we value. … we profile and individual or family in our bulletin telling how they came to Christ or to our church. … we ensure that dolls of all colors can be found in our nursery and early childhood classrooms.” – pg. 113

… churches that are located in areas of high need, diversity, and neutrality (that is, identified with neither the suburbs nor the inner city) are ripe for multi-ethnic ministry. When existing facilities within the community can be rented, purchased, or otherwise revitalized, a church will (in most instances) engender a positive response from citizens, neighborhood associations, and the community as a whole. Indeed, the community will be blessed by the heart of a church determined to bring life to dead or dying spaces, enhance the neighborhood, and in many other ways consider the needs of others outside their walls.– pg. 114

“In the end, it’s the personal interaction of members from day to day that will best promote a spirit of inclusion within the church. In this regard, nothing is more attractive or speaks any louder than authentic relationships of transparency and trust enjoyed by individuals of varying backgrounds. When exemplified among leaders, the foundation for a healthy multi-ethnic church is set and secure. (For example) To help foster the development of such relationships, a Community Meal is hosted once a month. … Immediately following the service on the third Sunday of each month, the entire congregation (and anyone else who shows up) is served a meal. … At this meal you will see doctors, lawyers, and other professionals eating with the homeless, newly arrived immigrants, or other people looking for work. Blacks and Whites easily interact with one another, and internationals blend in with the crowd.” – pg. 114

Promoting a spirit of inclusion … will be patient with genuine seekers – those new to the faith and the disenfranchised who are reconnecting with Christ and with his church after a season of sin, hurt, or absence. Ultimately, the goal is to create an environment where all people feel welcome, where truth is proclaimed, where grace and mercy abound. Such an environment, once created, will likely lead to unique opportunities for you and your church to share the Gospel.– pg. 115

“What we have learned is that it’s possible to promote a spirit of inclusion without compromising doctrine. Indeed, we are finding it possible to be doctrinally sound while not alienating nonbelievers or those who are still questioning…Through more than mere words or good works, people today need to personally experience the love of Christ in order to believe. They need to feel the power of God transcending the barriers of this world and uniting diverse people together as one (John 12:32)…in promoting a spirit of inclusion, local church planters and reformers can expect the lost and disenfranchised to head our way.” – pg. 117

Chapter 10 | (7 of 7) Mobilize for Impact

“(from Vincent Van Gogh) If you hear a voice within you saying, ‘You are not a painter,’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” – pg. 119

… the goal of a healthy multi-ethnic church, once established, is to turn the power and pleasure of God, as displayed uniquely in such settings, outward in order to (1) bless the city, (2) lead people to Christ, (3) encourage the greater body, and (4) fulfill the Great Commission.– pg. 120

“ … we (in the United States) are required by law to go to school with those different from us, to work with those different from us, to live in neighborhoods with those different from us – and the list goes on. The truth is, we are required by law to integrate in every way and in every place – every place, that is, except for the church. Now I am not at all suggesting that local churches be forcibly integrated. Yet on a Sunday morning, for instance, when any number of people coming from diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds gather to worship God together as one, it’s an amazing witness, precisely for this reason: we have come together willingly.” – pg. 121

… we do not seek simply to build a bridge to the community – we are the community. And this subtle reality is a defining characteristic of the multi-ethnic church. As such, it provides the congregation a unique platform and helps to establish moral and spiritual credibility throughout the city. To mobilize for impact, then, we must seek not so much to take the Gospel to the community but rather through the community by embracing an ‘incarnational’ approach … (we work for) the fruit of multi-ethnic, incarnational ministry, namely, the physical, material, and spiritual transformation of an entire community.– pg. 123

“ … In 1772, Newton wrote ‘Amazing Grace’ … perhaps the most popular song in history. It is a song that, with a few notes, lifts the heads of hopeless and softens the hearts of the hardened. Amazing Grace was sung by both sides of the civil war and used as a requiem by the Cherokee Indians on the Trail of Tears. Civil rights protestors sang it defiantly during freedom marches and on that sweltering day when Dr. King shared his dream. Amazing Grace rang out when Nelson Mandela was freed from prison and when the Berlin Wall came crumbling down. (And) on 11 September 2001, Amazing Grace was sung to comfort a mourning world. ‘Grace has the power to transform, to right wrongs and to turn a man who once traded slaves into one who fought for their freedom. Grace helps us to love beyond reason, hope without measure, and believe despite the odds. And within the context of a healthy multi-ethnic church, grace also humbles and inspires. In that environment, grace daily reminds us that no one is more important than another, ‘neither Jew nor Greek … slave nor free … neither male nor female; for (we) are all one in Christ Jesus.’ Grace, then, expects us to live in such a way that the world may see our love for one another and come to know Christ as we do. So with the healthy multi-ethnic church in mind, together let us sing these words from Newton’s hymn: ‘I once was lost, but now am found, was blind but now I see.’ Indeed, the grace of God is amazing! The grace of God is glue.– pg. 129

Next post: Sully Notes 9 | Building a Healthy Multiethnic Church: Mandate, Commitments and Practices of a Diverse Congregation Part 3 of 3

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