By Ed Schneider, pastor of Trinity Community Church (RCA) in Kent, Washington; ambassador to African-American/black churches on behalf of RCA Church Multiplication
Planting a multicultural congregation starts with the commitment to honestly and intentionally reflect all of God’s creation and the multiple flavors of humanity’s need. It is a must that planting leaders have an unswerving commitment to fostering an environment of cultural celebration. Validating each person as a vessel carrying the image of God is essential to secure and sustain multicultural goals and to experience Christianity in all of its vibrancy.
I am not advocating for human cultural distinctions over a new identity in Christ. However, if we overtly deny or discredit someone else’s “culture,” we place into the minds of those within that culture one of two thoughts: (1) whatever I have been valued as being is worthless, or (2) who I have been valued as being actually hinders my relationship and journey with Christ. Both of these beliefs are not only counter-productive; they are also highly prejudicial and theologically arrogant.
Those who have felt a call by God to plant a multicultural congregation must resist judging the outside of a person, rather than connecting to the God inside that person. Finding “the God” in each other—finding the commonality of God’s spiritual connection, that divinely inspired spiritual thread that ties God’s creation together into a singular force—perfectly reflects our Bible’s call to unity in the Spirit.
Our multicultural goals should always reflect God’s multicultural realities. We are called to unifying Christianity, not to continue separating ourselves from each other. It is the Spirit of God that will empower all of us to move beyond our distrust; beyond our suspicion; and beyond our human traits of hate, hurt, harm, and arbitrary separation. The multicultural church can directly address this important biblical mandate.
To learn more about church planting and leadership development in African American communities, go to www.growinggodskingdom.org. To read more of Ed Schneider’s reflections about the church, visit his website.