July
24
Author
Simon Redmill
Theology Matters in Building Multi-Cultural Churches

THEOLOGY MATTERS IN BUILDING MULTI-CULTURAL CHURCHES

Last Thursday night we had the third of our “Let’s Talk About Race” sessions.  It was great to have so many other churches join us as we explored “How to build multi-cultural churches”.

If we want to build multi-cultural churches we MUST be theologically convinced and convicted from the BIBLE that this is on God’s heart and a key part of His plan.

Our actions flow from our beliefs and so if we want to actively pursue this for the churches we’re part of, it must not be because it’s the latest thing, not because it’s pragmatic, not even because it just a ‘good’ thing to do. What will sustain us, is if we are genuinely and theologically convinced that it’s God’s idea!! Theology matters.

I prpmses that I'd write a blog and so here's a brief theological summary of why building multi-cultural churches is so important.  I can’t cover every area, or in too much detail, but here’s 6 key themes.  I’m particularly grateful for Bruce Milne’s “Dynamic Diversity” book for the headings.

(1)  TRINITY

In the Trinity we see both unity and diversity.  For example, Matthew 28 v 19 shows Father, Son and Holy Spirit all perfectly united in mission and baptism.  But mysteriously, and wonderfully there is also diversity in the Trinity.  For example, diversity of roles: it’s the Father who sends Jesus, the Son who is born has a human baby, and the Spirit who is poured out on the day of Pentecost.

There could be no more impressive under pinning for us building united and diverse churches….. than the Godhead itself.

(2)  CREATION

Genesis 1 + 2 makes it very clear that all human beings are made in the image and likeness of God, with intrinsic value and dignity. If we’re genuinely made in the image of God, and in the Godhead there is diversity, then you’d expect to see diversity in us as a human beings, and especially in us as Christians!

And so, as we build multi-cultural churches, united around who we are in Christ, we are reflecting something of the very character of God…… and in doing so we are bringing GLORY to God.

This is a game-changer in terms of our motivations and convictions!

(3) INCARNATION

Incredibly, God, in the form of His Son, Jesus became one of us!  Just as chilli ‘con carne’ means ‘in the flesh’ so Jesus came to us in the flesh (John 1).

In doing so, he EMBRACED those that were different to Him.  There cannot be two cultures that are more different than heaven and earth….. and Jesus bridged that gap to reach out to those from a different ‘culture’ to him, to save and to connect and build relationally with.  Staggering!

If Jesus crossed the divide and crossed cultures then we have our marching orders to reach out to those who are different to us and to build churches that reflect the example Jesus so perfectly showed us. 

There’s also a missional element to unity and diversity.  Jesus prayed in John 17: “let them be brought to complete unity, to let the world know that you sent me”.

Our churches Unity among cultural diversity is missional.  It speaks to a hurting world that is literally dying for a better way.

(4)  CROSS

Incredibly Jesus died on cross and rose again to not only RECONCILE us to God but also to one another (2 Corinthians 5 v 18)

Ephesians 2 v 14 “For he (Jesus) himself is our peace, who has made the two groups ONE and has DESTROYED the barrier…….. His purpose was to create in himself one new HUMANITY out of the two, thus making peace”

This is a glorious truth.  Jesus died to bring Jew and Gentile, Black and White…… together - reconciled under Christ!  Not just putting up with one another, but as part of one glorious new humanity, with Jesus as our Head.

(5) CHURCH

On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out, and it says in Acts 2 v 5 that there present were people from “every nation under heaven”.

The Holy Spirit was not just for certain anointed people or for special occasions but was for “ALL who called on his name”, including all the nations of the world.

The books of Acts are then a wonderful narrative of the gospel spreading.  It goes well beyond the Jewish people to the nations, which was an enacting of God’s plan all along (see Isaiah 49 v 6)

When the Church was persecuted, God sovereignly allowed the  gospel to spread.  We see Paul being an apostle to the Gentiles and we read of the church being a body made up of many diverse parts (1 Corinthian 12).  This is our joy and privilege to work out and continue in the local churches we are part of.

(6) HEAVEN

In Revelation 7 it’s as though the curtain is drawn back for us to have a front row seat of what’s going on in heaven.  What we see is “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne before the Lamb” (v9)

We see diversity (people from all nations) and unity (together, worshipping Jesus!).  This is where history is headed…. for all eternity!

Jesus taught his disciples, and us to pray, “let your will be done on earth as it is in heaven”.  As we ask ourselves what it’s like in heaven, surely one of the answers is…. there’s no racism.  There’s unity.  There are people from the nations gathered around Jesus worshipping.

And so….. that is exactly what we are to PRAY and WORK towards.  Multi-cultural churches together, united around worshipping Jesus.

There’s so much more that could be said, but I hope that helps in giving  brief theological summary of why building multi-cultural churches with the nations of the world, is so important.

Let’s be theologically convinced that this is on God’s heart, taught in the scriptures, and let’s build such churches to the Glory of God!

May God grant us much wisdom and grace as we do so.

Simon Redmill
Grace Church – Salisbury & Amesbury
July 2020