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What does a multi-ethnic church really look like?

I get asked this question a lot at Crossroads, namely because we teach and vision-cast a lot about our desire to be a multi-ethnic church, which I usually follow-up by saying we still have a long way to go.  We are three and a half years into a 5-year-plan where becoming a multi-ethnic congregation was one of our goals.  Sociologists say that a multi-ethnic congregation can be defined as when the dominant group is not larger than 80% of the total population.  On our best day, if you include our kids and teens (where the majority of our people of color* are), we might barely fit the 80/20 rule — so does this mean we’ve met our goal in becoming a true multi-ethnic church?

*People of Color is the contemporary term used in academic conversations about race in America.  “Non-white” is not a good term because it forces people of color to identify themselves in relation to the standard of whiteness rather than in relation to themselves.  It is not to be confused with the historical racial slur “colored.”

This is where I follow-up by saying we still have a long way to go!  It’s relatively easy to become multi-colored, but this is very different than being truly multi-cultural.  A true multi-ethnic church is probably beyond the reach of most people, which is why you see so few of them and so few real efforts to become one.  So, beyond the 80/20 principle, what does a true multi-ethnic church really look like?

Trust and Safety

I’ll start with this one because if it goes misunderstood, the rest of the identifiers won’t matter (and probably won’t happen).  A person of color needs to be able to lament, emote, pray, and petition the Lord and their church community about the challenges of oppression they face on a daily basis.  They need to be able to do this without being judged or corrected by the white population. Continue Reading…

I started my church 11 years ago with big dreams for God.

Church planting networks want people with big dreams for God.

We create huge conferences to encourage people to dream big dreams for God.

At this point your “cynic radar” is already starting to go off as you read this.  Bear with me a little longer before you cast me off.

Try to name one person in the New Testament who had “big dreams for God” in the way pastors and church planters are taught to.  The first people who come to my mind were the Jewish crowd in Matthew 21:1-11 who laid their coats on the ground while waiving palm branches as Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey.  This was “big thing” energy at its height as people shouted praises to Jesus and proclaimed him as their Messiah.

This frenetic crowd was made up of the same mob who shouted “Crucify him!” later in the week. Continue Reading…

An abbreviated version of this article was published on the Transforming Center’s website: What does transforming leadership look like for Pastor Noah Filipiak?  Here is the full version:

 

I love seminary.

 

I have one seminary degree and look forward to going back for more.

 

With that said, my experience in a Transforming Community has been the most important ministry leadership training I have ever received.  It’s not that it’s a competition between the type of things you learn in seminary and the type of things learned through the Transforming Community, it’s just very noticeable which ones are more emphasized in the Church today (and in my own ministry leadership life up to this point).  Noticeable due to the amount of pain and personal struggle I and so many other ministry leaders have endured in our untransformed selves.

 

I’ve seen the same concept true at the gym.  You often see people at the gym, usually fellow men, who are incredibly muscular.  Muscles on top of muscles and they are straining to build even more muscles.  I often wonder if these are NFL players or ditch diggers or some other occupation where this sort of strength would be beneficial.  Obviously the strength isn’t there for pragmatic reasons.  Meanwhile, as a former college track and cross country runner myself, I rarely see these muscle-bound titans hop on the treadmill or exercise bike.  Lots of muscle is great, but if it’s the only thing that’s ever focused on, a person can spend all that time in the gym and still be a very ineffective athlete.  After all, it’s pretty hard to be athletic if you can’t breathe!  There’s nothing wrong with being a bodybuilder or doing a lot of strength training, it’s just caused me to notice an interesting parallel to ministry training.

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Noah Filipiak interviews Pastor Doug Logan about planting an urban church in Camden, NJ; Camden was rated the most violent city in America in 2015.  Pastor Doug is an expert on missiology, urban ministry and what it looks like for the whole Church to live out the whole Great Commission.  He is the pastor of Epiphany Fellowship Church (Camden) and the author of On the Block: Developing a Biblical Picture for Missional Engagement (Moody Publishers).  He serves on the board for Thriving and for Acts 29 and is the proud father of 3 sons and grandfather of 3 grandkids.

You can listen to Noah’s interview with Doug Logan below via the Podbean Player or you can subscribe to all “Behind the Curtain” Ministry Podcast episodes on iTunes (takes 24 hrs to appear in iTunes)

Check out www.ontheblock.life for Pastor Doug’s blog, along with free music downloads, more info on the book and upcoming On the Block Conference.

 

Let’s support an urban cross-centered church plant in the middle of “the most violent city in America”…GIVE to Epiphany Church Camden

Connect with Pastor Doug on Social Media:

Twitter: @pastordeelowg

Facebook: Doug Logan

Instagram: @pastordeelowg

Pastor Bryan Loritts discusses how to become a multi-ethnic church, as well as the cost and challenges therein.  Noah Filipiak also asks Pastor Bryan for help in navigating the Christian subculture of church planting, pastoring and being an author in a way where we don’t end up measuring ourselves by performance-oriented metrics.

You can listen to Noah’s interview with Bryan Loritts below via the Podbean Player or you can subscribe to all “Behind the Curtain” Ministry Podcast episodes on iTunes

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