One of the hopes we have in our church is to intentionally grow as a multicultural community representative of the diverse peoples around us.
Though some may question that goal, the primary reason for desiring a multicultural expression is like all other things in our church: It’s a matter of discipleship.
Here are a couple of ways we’ve noticed growing as a multicultural church helps our people grow as followers of Jesus.
1. THE MULTICULTURAL CHURCH INVITES A POSTURE OF SACRIFICE.
Whether preaching style, musical philosophy, or differing perspectives on community formation, choosing to be part of a multicultural church requires every person to submit individual preferences that are important to them, even if never consciously recognized.
Sometimes we don’t know what’s meaningful to us until it’s no longer there.
The broader the diversity of the church’s representation, the higher chance certain people will feel the church isn’t speaking to them.
And if a church is a traditionally homogeneous group seeking to welcome in others, the greater this impact will be felt by those who’ve been used to the church existing primarily for them.
For example, a church will need to wrestle with living life together when its members stand at different ends of the wealth spectrum. A church composed of primarily wealthy parishioners can plan social events requiring significant financial investment.
They may need to question this approach, however, if the church begins to bring in those who may not possess as much materially and wants those new individuals to feel included in the family.
To be part of a multicultural church asks people what they’re willing to sacrifice to cultivate that kind of community flourishing.
2. THE MULTICULTURAL CHURCH MOVES PEOPLE OUT OF COMFORT ZONES.
Though a diverse gathering of peoples in a worship service can be celebrated, a multicultural community committed to reconciliation will necessitate moving beyond just external shows of diversity.
We need to dig deeper into realms of conversation and action, including asking harder questions of why we’re so divided as a people. Yet those kinds of questions can lead to frustration, anger, and defensiveness.
Some might question why the church is talking about “worldly” issues rather than the “real” mission of the church.
And those in the minority can likewise feel frustrated that the church is content with the diversity of their presence and fail to recognize more profound matters of justice that are important to them.
This kind of dialogue can be hard because it can make people uncomfortable. Yet the Holy Spirit often does its best work when people get out of their comfort zones.
One dynamic often witnessed in multicultural churches is that while people may experience discomfort, it’s also a means to grow in deeper empathy for others as we’re reminded the church isn’t primarily about us and our needs but the love of God and others.
3. DISCIPLESHIP IS NOT JUST INFORMATION ACQUISITION.
Discipleship for those in a multicultural church will involve aspects of learning as in any church. However, in a multicultural church, the path to following Christ will necessitate life beyond the classroom.
Like the above examples, walking with this kind of church community will reveal areas where our flesh doesn’t want to die but invites us to our knees, crying out to God for His mercy and grace to change.
This is as powerful a form of transformation as learning in a class. It’s a real way of confronting a consumeristic culture that’s so prevalent in the Church.
A reconciling church that calls people to die to themselves for the love of God and others will be one of the most powerful ways to point people to the only hope we have in Jesus.
DAN HYUN (@villagedanhyun) is the husband to Judie, father of two precious girls, and lead pastor of The Village Church and Send City Missionary for Baltimore, Maryland.