Local church ministry is more complex than ever before. And pastors are increasingly stretched thin with the unrelenting demands of ministry. Most everyone agrees that a multi-ethnic church is the ideal. But should it really be added to an already cluttered ministry agenda?
In fairness, we must say that multi-ethnicity is not the goal of the gospel. The goal of the gospel is the glory of God and the redemption of people. But we must also say that multi-ethnicity is the proper result of the gospel. The gospel reconciles us to God but it also reconciles us to each other. These two gospel outcomes are intertwined and inseparable. The single greatest commandment is to love God and to love our neighbor. Our love for one another is the validation of our love for God (Jn. 13:34-35). Our radical unity is what will convince the world that Jesus is the promised Deliverer (Jn. 17:20-23). You don’t have to read the Paul’s letter to the Romans very long before you realize that the gospel demands ethnic as well as moral outcomes. Pursuing a multi-ethnic church is not some 21 st century cultural fad. It is a gospel issue.
Beyond the foundational theology, there are a number of other realities that should motivate us to pursue a multi-ethnic church:
1. It is morally important
The Jerusalem Council involved the ethnic struggles between Jews and Gentiles in the early church (Acts 15). It would have been much easier to simply establish separate churches for the two ethnic groups. But they kept coming back to the table and the result was greater sensitivity and sanctification. There is a way of living that is consistent with the gospel (Gal. 2:11-16). And we need to continue progressing in our discipleship and be willing to lay aside petty preferences. If we gather together only with people who are like us (ethnicity, age, economic, educational level, etc.), we will likely be stunted in our spiritual growth.
2. It is culturally important
We live in an age of skeptics. The current segregation of the church has served to undermine the credibility of our witness. Does the gospel reconcile believers to one another or not? Nearly fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. stated, “If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the 20 th century.”
3. It is missionally important
The ethnicities of the world are on the move. Many of the nations of the world have come to our cities. A multi-ethnic church is a church that has a heart for the world and the cultural intelligence to reach the world. If all we do is send checks to other parts of the world, we are missing the greatest opportunity for the gospel in our time.
What are the next steps that you need to take to help your local church reflect the power and beauty of the gospel?