by Jeff Iorg
One of the realities of life and ministry in California is our multi-cultural environment and diverse population. Every week in our classrooms, in churches, and at conferences in our state, the people of the world gather to worship and learn together. Mixed race marriages, biracial children, multilingual churches, and multiethnic communities are the norm…not the exception.
This kind of pluralism may make you nervous. You may not feel very comfortable with people who are different than you. Well, to be blunt, you’ve got to get over it. In the future, the United States will be more diverse…not less. Communities will be blended, an amalgam of various ethnicities and cultures. Churches that reach their communities will reflect those communities. The day of congregations segregated by race or culture is waning.
There is certainly a need for language-specific congregations to reach first- and second-generation immigrants who still connect best with God in their heart language. But as the third generation emerges, language becomes less of an issue. Subsequent generations are developing multiethnic, multicultural churches in California. They speak English, but they eat sushi, tacos, and kimchi. They are typified by a Korean female friend of ours who has a Spanish surname because she married a Mexican. And, in their church, they aren’t an unusual couple.
If you are still stuck in a mono-cultural, monochromatic view of life, try these suggestions. Make a friend from another culture. Go to lunch with them at their favorite restaurant. Don’t eat the food you like. Learn to like something new. Visit a different church. When you’re on vacation, attend a church with a predominant culture different than yours. Learn to worship in some new ways. You might like it better than you think. Ask a Christian leader from another ethnicity to describe their mission work. Too many people, especially Anglos, consider every other group an object of missions…not realizing other groups have extensive mission work going on around the world.
Our multicultural world requires a multicultural ministry mindset. Get started developing yours.