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The 2 Laws of Multi-ethnic Ministry

by on June 11, 2012

1. ‘A church that does not aim to become multi-racial almost never does.’

2. ‘Churches that aim to become multi-racial fail most of the time.’

from United by Faith by De Young, Emerson, Yancey and Kim

Sobering thoughts from blokes with experience in this area.

Assuming they’re right for a minute: Why do you think it’s so hard?

From → General

  1. Charlie Ellis permalink

    Hey Jonno, very sobering words indeed. You said it right. Do you think it’s got to do with people looking for the security of common experience? When a person interacts with someone else (whether new to them or otherwise) there is a natural desire to try and diffuse some amount of social tension. Engaging in conversation is one interaction. Engaging in a ritual or custom is another form. In both these areas, there can be an element of safety gained by seeking to both stand on some sort of common ground in terms of respective life experience. People from the same ethnic or cultural background much more quickly and easily will find this common ground. This often makes it less emotionally taxing to feel you ‘understand’ the other person. It can be easier to form some sort of stable relationship of common understanding. This doesn’t necessarily mean the relationship is deep or functional. But you may know where you stand with each other more quickly.

    It can be hard enough at the best of times to make mono-ethnic churches ‘successful’. This is largely due to the stranglehold sin has on our lives, and our deep-seated tendency to selfish interest. To remove the stabilising factor of common cultural experience by going multi-racial, makes things that extra bit harder, and gives our natures one more excuse to pack it in when trying to be family to one another.

    Interested to hear your, and others’, thoughts.

    Charlie (Ellis)

    • These are great insights, Charlie. You’ve obviously thought a bit about this! I think you’re right: we all find it a challenge to connect with and know others deeply, even just to trust each other. Anything that makes that harder is…hard! we’re so ready to ‘pack it in’ as you say.

      And common ground is precious.

      I guess then it’s partly a challenge of faith: do we believe that belonging to Jesus provides us with something real enough that we can share it together? that Jesus unites across cultural barriers – effectively, not just theoretically? Often I lack that faith. But when I do manage to reach out in faith, I find that Jesus and his kingdom is a ‘common ground’ on which I can meet and know all sorts of people.

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