Friday, May 23, 2014

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

Emmaus City Church Worcester MA Soma Acts 29 Transcultural Multiethnic Church Sully Notes 9 Part 3

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 are the previous posts for Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church:

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

Part Three: On Planting, Revitalizing, and Transforming Chapter 11: For Those Planting a Multi-Ethnic Church

(from Mother Theresa) The miracle is not that we do this work, but that we are happy to do it.– pg. 135

“For us, then, planting … was an all-or-nothing wager – an obedient choice that (we) made to place ourselves dangerously in the hands of God. In doing so, we stepped out in faith and away from the advice of some we respected greatly. In all honesty, we have had many rude awakenings since. Indeed, we have encountered all the opposition you might expect from those threatened by the prospect of a multi-ethnic church tearing down the walls erected by both human and demonic influence. Yet we press on, motivated by a deep conviction that God is with us … With this in mind, multi-ethnic church planters should recognize that their vision may not make sense to those closest to them. Well-meaning people will offer many good reasons why should do something else; humanly speaking, they will be right. In addition, planters should recognize that multi-ethnic church planting is not for the faint of heart. It is something that should not entered lightly and something to which you must be called. For it is surely this calling that you will fall back upon, time and time again, as you join the movement that will, quite literally, change the face of the local church in the twenty-first century.” – pg. 136

… multi-ethnic church planters must recognize that success is not to be defined by the number of people who attend but by the collective spirit of those who attend. It is the unity and diversity of your congregation that will impress a world in need of Christ, not the size of your congregation. Indeed, do not compromise the vision for the sake of numbers, dollars, or buildings. I’ve found it refreshing that multi-ethnic church pastors do not often speak of their congregations’ size as much as they do of their congregations’ diversity.– pg. 140

“…multi-ethnic churches are built on the sacrifice of leaders determined to yield themselves for the greater good. Such leaders recognize that the church is not about them; rather it is all about others and all about the Lord … ’People will come to you initially for all kinds of reasons, and many of them will seem highly qualified to lead. Yet many, too, will be running from a church and not necessarily to your church … be patient and time will tell. Allow the Spirit to be your guide’ … multi-ethnic church planters must not be too anxious to empower others simply to diversify their leadership teams. Be intentional, yes, but be patient and somewhat cautious, too. Allow the Spirit of God to confirm in your heart those he would have to serve alongside you.” – pg. 140-141

… multi-ethnic church planters must surround themselves with individuals of diverse background, inviting them not simply to follow but also to guide them on the journey. In other words, to reach diverse people you must walk daily with diverse people as a leader, learner, and friend. Program time, as well, for your people to play, have fellowship, and otherwise have fun together, for although relational connections are important to the life and health of any church, they are essential to the foundation and fabric of a multi-ethnic church. … multi-ethnic church planters must encourage their members to spend time with one another outside of Sunday mornings or small groups focused on a lesson.– pg. 143

“Multi-ethnic church planters: 
  1. should recognize that their vision may not make sense to those closest to them; 
  2. must be called; 
  3. must be willing to leave everyone and everything behind in pursuit of the dream; 
  4. will not be able to get the job done apart from prayer, patience, and perseverance; 
  5. must value the intentional pursuit of unity with other pastors and local church leaders throughout a city, striving to build God’s kingdom and not their own; 
  6. should be prepared: ethnic and economic diversity are two sides of the same coin; 
  7. must recognize that success is not be defined by the number of people who attend but by the collective spirit of those who attend; 
  8. are leaders who sacrifice for the greater good: Such leaders recognize that the church is not about them, but it’s all about others and all about the Lord; 
  9. must surround themselves with individuals of diverse background; 
  10. must encourage their members to spend time relationally with one another outside of Sunday mornings or small groups focused on a lesson; 
  11. should humbly engage cultures in the church different from your own; 
  12. must re-examine everything they have previously learned, experienced, or assumed in order to avoid the unintentional creation of barriers: In the multi-ethnic church, they must remember that ‘my way’ is only ‘a way’ and not necessarily ‘the way’ things should be done; 
  13. must recognize the vision, once established, will engender goodwill, even among nonbelievers; and this credibility will open doors for you to find wonderful possibilities to extend the love of Christ within the broader community for social good.– pgs. 147-148

Chapter 12 For Those Revitalizing a Declining Church

“An influx of new adult believers will also create a need for additional leaders, and to develop them will take much time and energy. Look for potential leaders in each and every person God sends to the church, and remember, it is never too early to develop leaders. … I meet with several men in our church once every month or two in order to participate in their development as leaders. At any given time, I meet with twenty to twenty-five men in a three-month period. Perhaps five to ten will develop into effective leaders.” – pg. 153 

’(Insert your church's name) is God’s multi-ethnic bridge that draws all people to Jesus Christ who transforms them from unbelievers to missionaries.’ This vision statement laid the groundwork for our church to begin intentional, missionary outreach across ethnic lines by emphasizing a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. … Rather than gauge our success in the future by how many people we could attract to the church, we determined to gauge our success by how many people we could send out as missionaries from the church, first into our own ‘Jerusalem’ and then to ‘Judea, Samaria and to the remotest parts of the earth’ (Acts 1:8).” – pgs. 153-154 
If we really believe that all people have been made in Christ’s image, then we all carry the same divine resemblance (Genesis 1:26-27). To interact with someone who has been created in Christ’s image demands that we see the face of God in his or her face, regardless of the color of skin.” – pg. 156  
Yes, Jesus has called the church to cross national, ethnic, religious, economic, social, educational, and all other cultural barriers for the sake of the Gospel. In the American context, I have observed that it is much easier and safer for us to address missions as a denomination or from the perspective of Christianity as a whole. All too many feel personally released from any further obligation if, for instance, they personally support a missionary, if their denomination is involved in work abroad, or if their own local church has sent members to the foreign field. Likewise, in giving money, many conclude that their responsibility to missions has been fulfilled and there is nothing more to be done at a personal level. The apostle Paul, however, confronts this remote and impersonal mentality with his words: ‘I am under obligation, both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. Thus for my part, I am eager to preach the Gospel to you also who are in Rome’ (Romans 1:14-15). This same sense of obligation is also conveyed by John when he writes of Jesus, ‘he had to pass through Samaria’ (John 4:4). In both instances, it is a divine mandate to proclaim the Gospel to all people. It is also interesting that this divine mandate required the Jews to reach out to people and nations that they had previously perceived to be unclean and unfit for the kingdom of God; in other words, they had to extend themselves beyond their own comfort zone. So if Jesus, himself, was led to the Samaritans and Paul was obligated to the Gentiles, what do you think that God requires of us? Since the same Spirit lives in the heart of each and every believer, we should recognize that he expects us, likewise, to be personally engaged in reaching out to other people and nations for the sake of Christ, whether at home or abroad.– pg. 161
“Multi-ethnic church plants: 

  1. Much of your new growth will likely come through conversions; 
  2. A vision statement should be written and adopted to ensure that the multi-ethnic church will come to fruition; 
  3. It is essential to call diverse representatives to join the leadership team; 
  4. Ask new members for honest feedback concerning how they perceive the church to be reaching out to all people; 
  5. The majority group will be called upon initially to sacrifice the most; 
  6. Either the established majority will initiate bridging the gap with newcomers, or ethnic-based subgroups will begin to develop; 
  7. There is a constant need for cross-cultural interpretation and open, honest dialogue; 
  8. The effort is fraught with risks but also filled with multiple opportunities for individuals to learn and grow; 
  9. Many will find the challenges of a multi-ethnic church insurmountable within the framework of ‘their church.’ Consequently, they will actively avoid or oppose the multi-ethnic vision. Many more, however, will warmly embrace such cultural ‘collisions.’ These are the ones who give us encouragement and hope; 
  10. It will remain an ongoing challenge to bridge divides of expectation. But you must remain committed to doing whatever it takes to cultivate an atmosphere in which every person will be represented and celebrated; 
  11. You can take a paradigm of missions already in place and exponentially expand the vision.” – pgs. 162-163

Chapter 13
 For Those Transforming a Homogenous Church

“ … transforming leaders pursuing multi-ethnic church must not yield to the voices that will surely challenge their vision. Well-meaning people will question your motives or intentions, and you will cause them great confusion as you shake an otherwise comfortable spirituality. Some will feel threatened and try to defend the status quo or, worse yet, try to paint you as someone not in tune with God. Do not be surprised if even your closest friends do not understand why you want to rock the boat! In order to fulfill your mission, however, you will have to listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit and not to the voice of others, no matter who they are, what position they hold, or what they might mean to your personally.” – pgs. 167-168

… transformational leaders must articulate holy intentions and clear objectives in language that can be embraced by the body they seek to influence. Clear enunciation of the vision does not guarantee a smooth transition, but it most certainly helps … transformational leaders must allow the Holy Spirit to be the driving force and voice for change. Yes, it is Christ’s vision for the nations that should guide and govern the decisions of those shaping the future of the local church … transformational leaders should develop a written document that clearly articulates the purpose of embracing a vision for multi-ethnic ministry. Addressing the issue openly and honestly from the pulpit will go a long way toward winning the hearts and minds of the people … (a sample) vision statement: a church where cultures connect in unity as all people are included in our family. – pg. 169  
… remain prayerful, purposeful, and patient throughout the entire journey of discovering and empowering diverse leadership … the entire leadership team (both vocational and volunteer leaders – staff, elders, deacons, for example) must be committed to the multi-ethnic vision if it is to succeed. Emerging ethnic leadership must also believe in the vision and make a firm commitment to the greater mission of the church. Forging unity from diversity will require transformational leaders of diverse ethnic background to come together as one. All involved must passionately embrace the vision in order to lead the people with whom they have the greatest influence. There can be no hint of inconsistency, self-positioning, or diversion from the vision if it is, in fact, to take root and inspire change in the established church … transformational leaders should look for diverse ethnic leaders who are firmly in line with the church doctrinally.” – pg. 170

“Lay leaders, too, must be encouraged and equipped to extend themselves to diverse people within the body. Well-planned events that encourage the participation of all involved across ethnic lines will help to foster community. For instance, church picnics, concerts, and special events offer nonthreatening opportunities for interaction and should be planned with the entire, diverse congregation in mind.” – pg. 172

Our consistent support of both short- and long-term ministry teams through the years has provided us with a natural platform to further educate the body about the diverse cultures living in our own community. However, studying different cultures is quite different from walking with them together as one. Most concerns can be addressed through relationships of transparency and trust, leading to adjustments in approach or programming. However, others run deep through culture and hold potential for conflict. These must be bathed in prayer.” – pg. 173

“Transformational leaders: 
  1. must not yield to the voices that will surely change their vision; 
  2. must articulate holy intentions and clear objectives in language that can be embraced; 
  3. must allow the Holy Spirit to be the driving force and voice for change; 
  4. should gather information concerning the changing demographics of the community; 
  5. should develop a written document that clearly articulates the purpose of embracing a vision for multi-ethnic ministry;
  6. must passionately embrace the vision in order to lead people with whom they have the greatest influence; there can be no hint of inconsistency, self-positioning, or diversion from the vision if it is, in fact, to take root and inspire change;
  7. should look for diverse ethnic leaders who are firmly in line with the church doctrinally; 
  8. take bold initiative and offer a measure of self-sacrifice;
  9. use Ephesians 4:1-3 as a guide for transformational leaders in their pursuit of cross-cultural competency;
  10. set the tone and follow through with tangible signs for those in the minority.” – pgs. 178-179

Conclusion All That We Should Be

(from W.E.B. Dubois) Now is the accepted time; not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. It is today that our best work can be done.– pg. 183

“Although government and educational programs, together with efforts of countless individuals, groups, and agencies, have long sought to eliminate prejudice and the disparaging consequences of institutional racism still deeply embedded within society, it is time to recognize that such a dream cannot be realized apart from the establishment of multi-ethnic churches that intentionally and joyfully reflect the passion of Christ for all the people of the world. For it is not the institutions of government or of education that have been ordained by God for this task; rather, it is the local church, the bride of Christ – we who are his people (John 17:1-3, 20-23; Acts 11:19-26, 13:1, 16ff; Galatians 3:26-28; Ephesians 4:1-6; Revelation 5:9-10). Concerning the movement of American Christianity toward racial reconciliation in the 1990s, author Chris Rice wrote the following profound words: ‘Yes, deep reconciliation will produce justice, and new relationships between the races. Yes this will lead Christians to become a bright light in the public square. But I have become convinced that God is not very interested in the church healing the race problem. I believe it is more true that God is using race to heal the church.’– pg. 183

“ … it is Christ’s will that we become one with believers different from ourselves so that the world would know God’s love and believe. As a by-product, society will be affected, ‘racial-reconciliation’ will occur, and the church will be restored to a place of prominence in the minds and hearts of those outside its walls. Indeed, this is the power of unity. This is the Gospel of Christ.” – pg. 184

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