“Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all” (Colossians 3:11).
Those are the words of the Apostle Paul. He was teaching that racial and socio-economic lines do not change the salvation that we have in Christ. If we believe, we have unity, no matter what ethnic group we belong to.
It’s a beautiful thing when the different races are able to come together and show the world just how good Christ is.
Here are some benefits to planting a multi-ethnic church:
Understanding Each Other Better
A Caucasian person once told me, “White people really have no concept of the privilege we experience.”
That’s a pretty bold statement.
It says 3 things to me: (1) That non-Caucasians experience a completely different world than Caucasians. (2) Caucasians don’t usually even have an awareness of that difference. (3) That misunderstanding can lead to all sorts of problems from ignorance to bold-face anger.
Admittedly, this section has so far discussed Whites, and that is only because Caucasians are the majority in the U.S. (I am personally bi-racial, so it’s not bias for me). But every single race has its own identity and its own experience, and that makes the problem of understanding each other that much more difficult.
We all tend to think that our experience is most-important, most-difficult, and most-common. So when we meet people with a different experience, the thought immediately pops up into our head, “They’ll never understand.”
In a multi-ethnic church, everyone already has a basis for love: that Christ first loved us. So at the very least, different races should be amiable. But that’s only the beginning. With unity in Christ established, there is still a very long way before mutual-understanding is achieved. It requires time with each other, patience, open-mindedness, compassion, humility.
But the beauty in a multi-ethnic church is that the opportunity exists. And if we let Christ’s love guide us, we will better be able to understand each other.
Check out this video below which nails privilege. It’s not racial in nature, but it does describe the different socio-economic experiences. And when you see the results at the end, you’ll see how involved race really is in the discussion.
And don’t forget to read the rest of the article after the video.
Opportunity to Ease Suffering
Gentrification is a huge problem. It is when new businesses and development come into an area in the city which has been low-income and high-crime, for a very long time. When the money begins coming in to this area, those who lived there because of the low cost of living are moved out because they can no longer afford it.
With city-centers growing larger at this time in history, the minorities who are usually living in these areas are moved to a different area closer to the outskirts of town.
The issue is that these people are forced to leave their home, which they and their friends have lived for generations. And like it or not, it usually breaks down like this – the minorities (often Blacks, Latinos, and Asians) are moved out, and the majority (Whites) move in.#Gentrification is a huge problem. Click To Tweet
Karen Mortimer, a strong advocate for gentrified peoples in Denver (and who is white herself), told me that there is almost no way to stop gentrification. If there is going to be progress in cities, there are going to be people pushed out of their homes.
But she did tell me ways that the church can help ease the suffering of gentrification.
- Communities need to actively engage in learning how to build community across racial and social lines. Be comfortable with it.
- The church needs to become a larger part in the existing secular structures in order to advocate effectively.
- Build authentic relationships with people of other races.
- Recognize that some people won’t listen.
- Become advocates for racial groups.
- Set aside our privilege, approach other groups with humility.
- Tell young bilingual white people to spend more time with immigrants.
- Just recognize white privilege.
- Emphasizing reconciliation between the races as part of the Gospel, which is about reconciliation.
- Protect the minorities in the church from those white people who are ignorant and rude.
- Create jobs with strategic businesses, but don’t replace long-lasting business.
- The church should do more advocating for technological education, because graduation rates are 30% higher in schools which emphasize tech ed.
- Come alongside the school system and offer to help in various ways.
Check out another article for more information about gentrification.Reconciliation between the races is part of the #Gospel. #unity Click To Tweet
Ability to Fight for Each Other
As we interact with each other, we learn about the social struggles of other races.
To the majority –
You have the resources. It’s your duty to use your resources and influence to help fight for social change. Advocate for minority groups. Meet urgent needs in the church. Provide for the community. Love your brothers and sisters of different races. Be humble, because even though you have resources, that does not make you the most important person in the room. Christ is, and He says that the minorities are equal to you in His eyes.
To the minority –
Your experience is your resource. You have been hurt often in your life. But it is not the fault of the specific majority individual sitting next to you at your church meeting. Be patient and humble (even though humility has been forced upon you many times, no doubt). Understand that you will be misunderstood, but that is through love and relationships, not anger and frustration, that those misunderstandings will be overcome. So take a risk, fight for the love of Christ, and share your experience.
Life Becomes More Rich
Karen, the woman I wrote about above, who explained her perspective of gentrification to me, also said this, “My life became so much more rich when I began seriously interacting with different races in my community.”
As you share your life, people will share with you. You’ll get to hear stories, participate in cultural experiences, understand new ways of looking at the world. You’ll become more well-rounded, and better able to serve others.
If Christ is the foundation of it all, THAT is what church is all about – bearing with one another in patience and love to show the world how good God really is.
- Acts 13:1-3. Note that the names represent different ethnic groups.
- Acts 10:9-16, 34-35. Peter is taught through a dream that non-Jews are allowed into the church.
- Revelation 7:9. Every tribe and tongue!