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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…

Let the Scriptures speak…

What trend do you see?

Is it the same trend or a different trend than you see in America?  In the American Church?

Matthew

6359417358769223841804779694_dream-act(Jesus, Mary and Joseph were immigrants / refugees)  Matt. 2:13-15       When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. “Get up,” he said, “take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him.”  So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.”

Matt. 5:3-5    “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth. Continue Reading…

b33c14a2-d822-4703-872e-1a2dffb300b0@2xNoah Filipiak interviews 2016 Christianity Today Book of the Year (in the Category of The Church/Pastoral Leadership) award winner Dr. Zack Eswine.  In addition to the award-winning The Imperfect Pastor: Discovering Joy in Our Limitations through a Daily Apprenticeship with Jesus, Zack is also the author of Spurgeon’s Sorrows: Realistic Hope for those who Suffer from Depression, Preaching to a Post-Everything World: Crafting Biblical Sermons that Connect with our Culture, Recovering Eden: The Gospel According to Ecclesiastes and Kindled Fire: How the methods of CH Spurgeon can help your preachingZack pastors at Riverside Church in Webster Groves, MO and is the Director of Homiletics at Covenant Seminary.

Like the themes in Zack’s writing, this interview is essential listening for pastors who struggle with burnout, significance and self-striving.  So much of what has become normative in church culture for pastors is the opposite of what Jesus taught and modeled for his followers.  Zack exposes these things with such grace, experience, and wisdom, offering the rest of us the hope from the hamster wheel of ministry he has found in Jesus.

You can follow Zack on Twitter and Facebook.  His website and blog can be found at www.ZackEswine.com

You can listen to Noah’s interview with Zack Eswine below via the Podbean Player or you can subscribe to all “Behind the Curtain” Ministry Podcast episodes on iTunes (if you like what you hear, leave some feedback!)

 

at a crossroads behind the curtain ministry podcast noah filipiakNoah Filipiak interviews Pastor Tyler St. Clair about his upcoming church plant on the NW side of Detroit, the neighborhood Tyler and his wife both grew up in.  Tyler’s target location is one of the “bad parts” of Detroit, with all of the symptoms of urban poverty ever-present.  After being guided to plant in other more financially viable areas, Tyler discusses why he is staying committed to this needy area.  Noah and Tyler discuss white privilege and the challenge of ministry fundraising as a black man.  They also discuss the lost emphasis Scripture puts on loving and ministering to the poor and the need for the Church to be the body and not hoard all of the resources in suburban areas.  They also discuss how a lot of church planting movements want to make it look like they are ministering in the poor parts of Detroit, when they really aren’t.  Tyler also shares about a season of his life where he rejected black preaching and theologians, and how God brought him back to his roots and ethnic identity by introducing him to many spiritual giants of the Christian faith who come from the African-American Church.

Subscribe to all “Behind the Curtain” Ministry Podcast episodes on iTunes

Listen to the Tyler St. Clair podcast episode here:

 

Connect with Tyler:

Tyler on Twitter

Tyler on Facebook

Tyler on Instagram

Tyler’s Blog

Email Tyler (tylerstclair@resdetroit.org) about joining his fundraising team (tax-deductible)

Click for Tyler’s Prayer Newsletter, with link at the bottom to subscribe to future Prayer Newsletters (click “Forward” at the very bottom of the Newsletter and enter your email in both email lines)

Resources mentioned in the interview:

Tyler’s Blog Post “Forgetting Giants” about great black theologians of the past

Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith

African American theologians and preachers of the past:

Phillis Wheatley.

Lemuel Haynes

Richard Allen

Gardner C. Taylor

E.K. Bailey

A. Louis Patterson

African American theologians and preachers of the present:

John Perkins

Eric Mason

Tony Evans

Crawford Lorrits

Bryan Lorrits

H.B. Charles Jr. – On Preaching book – H.B. Charles Jr.’s Podcast

Charlie Dates

Robert Smith Jr. – Doctrine that Dances book

James Earl Massey

 

In January 2006, I officially left my position as a youth pastor and set off full-time as a church planter in Lansing, MI.  I was 22 when I went to the assessment center in August 2005 and was ready to save the world a few months later at 23.

I was naive, arrogant, insecure and full of subconscious motives.

Now I’ve just turned 33 (the age Jesus died; several of my pastor friends reminded me of this), and this September our church will celebrate the 10 year anniversary of our public launch.  Here’s some of the biggest things I’ve learned over the past 10 years:

Don’t Throw Stones

So much arrogance can be cloaked in “critical thinking” and “observation.”  10 years ago, I felt superior to the way the established church was doing things.  I would throw stones in private conversations at specific established churches, typically the larger ones in my area.  What a direct rebellion against Jesus’ desire for the Church to be unified!  What an insult to the Kingdom of God. Continue Reading…