Friday, December 6, 2013

The challengesof Multi-Ethnic Church outweighed by the gospel imperative

Ed Stetzer Over on the Gospel Coalition site  starts a useful conversation about the challenges and opportunities of being a multi-ethnic church.

First, just because your church looks diverse doesn't mean it is diverse.

Second, the multi-cultural ministry is a recipe for conflict.

Third, multi-cultural ministry slows down ministry.

Fourth and finally, being a multicultural church takes a lot of listening.

Maybe too much weight given to the challenges and not enough to the HUGE amount of positive stuff to say about the richness that comes from diversity as well as the challenges

Yet the conclusion is spot on...

"Scripture goes to great lengths to point out the diversity around the throne. Thus, it seems only right and perhaps pleasing to God that our churches might be signs of the kingdom of God today in increasing multiculturalism. I am encouraged by the efforts I see, and challenged to move forward in my own life and church as the conference theme suggested, For the Sake of the Gospel."

Much has proved true at Twynholm Baptist Church, a church of about 75 with 21 nationalities and pretty significant socioeconomic diversity.

But on the positive side I'd go so far to say that it is a gospel imperative to seek to reflect the cultural diversity of the community in which your church meets.

It is interesting in Galatians 3:28 that, where there were divisions between Jew and Gentile, Paul widens the implications of the gospel to undermine ALL natural divisions Jew/Gentile=ethnic, male/female=gender, slave/free=socioeconomic.
This is not an exhaustive list, but his widening the view of potential divisions undermines any other divisions we could think of: young/old, able-bodied/disabled, educated/uneducated,  sound mental health / mentally ill.  etc. etc. etc.

HT Dan Steel

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Timewasters telling people they are on the wrong path? Or are they park rangers?

"There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading in the same direction, so it doesnt matter which path you take.  The only one wasting time is the one who runs around and around the mountain, telling everyone else that their path is wrong"

It's a sentiment on many posters, claiming to be an ancient Hindu proverb, though I've been unable to trace its original source.

The analogy clearly wouldn't work on real mountains.
I've only ever climbed one really tall mountain. I was very thankful for a guide, as most of the paths would have ended up with me getting nowhere near the top, but rather getting very very lost. the guy running around the mountain telling people they are on the wrong path is called a park ranger, and saves many lives.

This struck me particularly as I was preparing to preach Ecclesiastes 4-5 this morning.

There we see 5 paths that lead nowhere:

  • The rat race 4:4
  • The drop out 4:5
  •  The treadmill 4:7-8
  •  The popularity contest 4:13-16
  •  The money ladder 5:10-12

Amongst all these false paths, there is only one that gets to the top of the mountain:
  •  Standing in awe of God 5:1-7