I have recently been re-reading a couple of books on multi-cultural, multi-ethnic church, and have come to realize a very important point.
What is it about church that makes it the most segregated time of the week? The same thing that makes the church a group of people… not a building. The reason church is segregated is because of the people. That’s it. People make up the church, the building doesn’t. The “church” is you and it’s me, and WE are what makes up our own particular church body. Becoming involved with persons of a skin color different from yours takes a couple of things.
1. Be willing to be comfortable being uncomfortable. When you move beyond your comfort zone, you will be uncomfortable. Fact of life. Trust me, in time you will feel more at ease than you thought possible.
2. Be courageous. My son is black. I am white. When needed, I discipline my son in public. He knows I mean business. You ought to try being a white male with a tattoo carrying a 5 year old black child out of Wally World, when he is crying “I WANT MY MOMMA!!”…. Here’s the thing… he is my son, I am his daddy, if discipline is needed, I give it. It’s what is needed… courage.
3. Be slow to anger. People do not realize the no-no’s of different cultures until they talk with people from that culture, and find out the differences. I had to ask a good friend what the proper terminology was when relating to his race… “black, African-American”… thing is, he could have taken it as me being “smart a**ed”. He didn’t. two other things – NEVER touch a black woman’s hair. NEVER. (Watch the movie, you’ll understand.) And never speak Spanish around Latinos unless you are sure you are saying what you really mean. You wouldn’t do it in English would you?
4. Be excited about your differences. We are created by God, I can learn to enjoy the differences in me and my friends!
5. Enjoy the blessings of God! I really cannot express in words how richly I have been blessed by our church body, it’s diversity of color, culture, and ideas.
Stand and be what God has called you to be. His church, reaching the lost, the lonely, those different than you. Imagine for a second what our world would be like if Jewish disciples had decided not to reach out to Gentiles…