Dealing with Neighborhood Transitions in Your Church, Part 3

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been discussing neighborhood transitions and what to do when a church and its community no longer share a socio-economic or ethnic makeup. Last week we looked at relocation as an option. While I do not think this is the best answer, it’s quite possibly the most frequent for churches. If you are going to do it, I suggested a few things to consider.

This week, we turn our attention to the hard work and commitment required to create a multicultural church. That, I think, is a better course of action.

While a neighborhood transition is a fantastic opportunity to create a multicultural church, most people who call for this have never actually been in, much less have successfully built, a multicultural church. Juan Sanchez has written a pair of blog posts about multicultural worship and multi-ethnic congregations here on the blog in the past few months. While his church didn’t face these exact circumstances, he provides some helpful suggestions.

First, we must understand that a multicultural church is a lot more than simply getting someone who is African-American by background, Latino by background and Asian by background and proudly saying, “We’re multicultural.”

If all those people live in the same geographic area, listen to the same music, and go to the same movie theaters and restaurants, they do not reflect true multiculturalism– where there is intentional embrace of cultures, not just the presence of people who come from certain ethnic backgrounds. More accurately, such churches reflect a mono-culture with different racial and ethnic backgrounds represented. This is not to belittle this development. I praise God for the development of churches containing multiple races and ethnicities.

However, to be truly multicultural, however, takes a lot more work. Now, I should not say that I am the expert on the subject– others have written more articulately on the subject. However, what I’ve learned personally was from a planting a multicultural church among the urban poor in the inner city of Buffalo, New York.

We learned a few things there, but a subsequent study illustrated more.

Here are a few things to consider (which I will flesh out later) on the transition:

1. A church needs a vision for a multicultural future– a passion to reflect the Kingdom in this way.
2. Leadership needs to embrace and model the change– including creating a multicultural leadership team.
3. Churches need to prepare for the challenges, conflicts, and opportunities that such transitions provide.

A multicultural church is more work than you think– everyone likes the hypothetical idea and complains about the lack of multiculturalism in the church, but are often not willing to make the transitions and pay the price needed.

We’ll talk more about them in the next post.

Read Part 2 of the series here; read Part 4 here.

Read more from Ed here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer

Ed Stetzer is the President of LifeWay Research, a prolific author, and well-known conference and seminar leader. Stetzer has planted, revitalized, and pastored churches, trained pastors and church planters on six continents, holds two masters degrees and two doctorates, and has written dozens of articles and books.

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My husband and I are seeking a new church because we've recently moved. We've been shocked and dismayed to find so many unfriendly , closed congregations and pastors. We're servants who want to plug in and work alongside fellow believers. However, so far we've not found one church where the pastor is a humble leader and the members are friendly, willing servants. We're not new believers. We're seminary trained with hearts for the lost. Willing, able and called. So far the Lord has not directed us to the church of His choice. It's no wonder America is in the shape it's in when our churches are closed social groups, not open, welcoming , loving brides of Christ.
 
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I've been in my Methodist church for over 30 years, but I still HATE the greeting time. I'm shy and dont like shaking hands with people I don't know, especially people who have just coughed or sneezed into their hand - gross! Even worse is being forced to say something like "peace be unto you" (which I would NEVER say in my daily life), it seems pompous, highly unnatural and pointless. I really wish they would stop this. But I stay there for other reasons.
 
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I think if you are drawn to God, you will not care about what church you go to as long as you are getting fed the true word of God. Most importantly is to go to church and get the biblical teaching and biblical worship that you seek.Another reason being that maybe you really don't want to go to church to begin with and if that is so, you will look for, and find any excuse you can muster up to not go anymore. If I am seeking a new church, I would look for one that teaches the true word of God, which can only be found in the holy Bible. And if that church does not beleive in Salvation through Jesus Christs' death on the cross, I would walk out immediately.
 
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