becoming a multiracial church, part 3
I cringed when I read Lee’s recent racist experience. Racist remarks and stereotypes and incidents not only happen on the rougher side of town, it happens on the genteel side too, and in office skyscrapers, in schools, even Christian colleges and churches. This is 2005. And it happens to me on occasion too. I’ll cringe again when it happens to my son. (And I’m cringing like right now b/c my attempted to post this entry has crashed my browser 3 times now.)
While Lee said that media portrayal has a significant impact on people’s perception of ethnic groups, I’d say that churches do all the more. While the churchgoing population in America is declining, and arguably not a majority of the overall population, churches themselves are less than 3% multiracial.
While churches for decades have been intentional about cross-cultural outreach overseas, they’ve neglected (still neglect) the opportunity right around the city to reach another racial grouping. I find it ironic that so much resources would go towards training and sending, yet the easiest (perhaps not so easy?) thing to do is develop cross-cultural skills right here in multicultural America. There’s no better place than the local church to develop the skills to really relate and empathize with someone different. And the truth is, we’re all different, individually and corporately.
Relationships can’t be mandated, and neither can heart change. But if we’re following God in the way of Jesus, it’s got to be seen in how we love our neighbor, those who are different from ourselves, just like the Samaritan did, in every day life. And intentionally include them in the dialogue about what is church — yes, it’d be a different kind of dialogue with a different ethnic mix.
[Also see previously posted: part 2, part 1, original post. Update 5/5/5 – racial threat turns out to be a hoax, according to article: Minority Student Charged with Hate Crime at Trinity University]
Strong stuff. Good post!
This is something I’m thinking about a lot. Any local church would be stronger and better with real diversity, (and not just racial, but political, economic, educational, etc.)
We have an opportunity in our new house church to be pro-active in this regard. If three or four non-white families (read as one or more persons living under the same roof) missionally joined an ethnically white church of 500+, that doesn’t do much to the racial mix; but if those same three of four families joined with us, we’d be a multiracial church (almost from day one.) And hopefully everything that grows from this would remain reflective of this origin.
But how do you make it happen without sounding like you just want to use someone because of their differently colored skin? How would this come across: Contact a few churches in our area with non-white congregations, and speak with the pastor/elder/similar about partnering with us by sending a family or two to join us in mission. My language is a little rough, but I think the idea is clear. I’d welcome comments and critisicm.