RECONCILIATION & The Power Struggle Involved in Transitioning to a Multiethnic Church

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Reconciliation is not about acculturation or blending, but about “giving up power.” That’s what Mark and I tried to say in our book: re;MIX Transitioning Your Church to Living Color (Abingdon Press, 2017). Read this article below for a good corollary.

“Transitioning to a Multiethnic Church” By Eric Nykamp, Global Christian Worship, 8/25/17.

Many urban white churches realize that their congregation doesn’t reflect the diversity of the cities they reside in, and many of these churches desire to become multi-ethnic communities. However, moving from this desire to developing into an actual multi-ethnic community can be challenging, especially for churches with a track-record of being a “whites only” worship space in their city. Since most white people have little awareness of their white cultural norms, they mistakenly assume that what is normal for them is also the norm for all people … and are puzzled when their “outreach” or “welcome and enfolding” efforts fall flat with people of color. Due to this cultural blindspot, they are unable to recognize that some of their white cultural norms send the message that people of color with different norms of worship are not welcomed, unless the person of color is willing to assimilate.

Some majority-white churches realize that changing their worship norms will help them develop into the multi-ethnic space they desire to become … but find that they are stuck in making this happen. This talk, given at one such church, addresses how white Christians need to recognize and understand how white norms about worship may operate within their church. The presentation asks questions about what it would mean for white people to change their ways and give up power in order to become a multiethnic community. He concludes with a challenge to white Christians in multiethnic churches to love their brothers and sisters of color with Christ self-sacrificial love for the church, especially when it comes to issues of power and control in multiethnic churches.

Read more at … http://globalworship.tumblr.com/post/164621929550/transitioning-into-a-multi-ethnic-church-eric

Hear it at:

http://cdn.antiochpodcast.org/021.mp3

and go here for more:
http://antiochpodcast.org/podcast/episode-21-worshiping-whiteness-a-presentation-by-eric-nykamp/

RECONCILATION & 5 Non-Negotiables for White Folks In Pursuing Reconciliation

by Andrew Draper, Taylor University, 8/8/17.

…Pursuing reconciliation … does not mean that having white skin is inherently sinful or that appreciating historically “white” cultural particularities is necessarily problematic. However, this is not the way white identity has functioned in modernity. Since at least the days of colonization, whiteness has been presented as the universal “good.” In this sense, “whiteness” names a way of being in the world, a sociopolitical order that is best understood as idolatry. Pursuing reconciliation demands that the altars of whiteness be cast down and its high places laid low.

Here are 5 practices in which white folks must engage if we are to seriously pursue reconciliation:

  1. We must repent for complicity in systemic sin.
    White folks must repent for histories of slavery, subjugation, segregation, and a racialized criminal justice system…
  2. We must learn from cultural and theological resources, not our own.
    Rather than gravitating toward books and sermons from “white” sources, white folks must listen to other interpretive trajectories on those tradition’s terms…
  3. We must locate our lives in places and structures in which we are necessarily guests.
    Christian theology and ecclesial practice has often understood itself as being “host” to the world. White Christians often enter unfamiliar places not as guests, but as self-appointed arbiters of divine hospitality. How different it would be if white folks practiced withholding judgment about what is “needed” in specific places and structures…
  4. We must tangibly submit to non-white church leadership.
    …White Christians desiring to practice reconciliation must not unilaterally start churches, plan worship services, design cultural events, and organize community activities and then invite “others” to them. Rather, white folks must join churches or ministry associations in which they are a minority and which are led by non-white folks.
  5. We must learn to hear and speak the glory of God in unfamiliar cadences.
    If white folks practice being guests and submitting to non-white leadership, we will begin to hear God spoken about in ways with which we are not familiar. Rather than jumping to evaluation of previously unfamiliar modes of discourse, white folks must learn to “sit with it” for a while, to join in and experience the praises of Jesus in ways that may be initially uncomfortable…

Read more at … http://fuller.edu/Blogs/Global-Reflections/Posts/Five-Non-Negotiables-for-White-Folks-In-Pursuing-Reconciliation/

#DMin LEAD 716

MULTIETHNIC LEADERSHIP & Insights from Ray Chang on #MultiethnicChurch at #Exponential16

These are notes gleaned from Ray Chang’s breakout at Exponential 16 (4/27/16). Dr. Chang is the pastor of a multicultural church pastor Ambassador Church, founder of the AmbassadorNet, and church planting leader with the Evangelical Free Church of America.

Dr. Chang suggests the vision for starting a multicultural church begins with three realities.

A biblical reality:

  • Creation (Gen. 1)
  • Fall (Gen 3)
  • Flood (Gen. 10:5)
  • Tower of Babel (Gen. 11)
  • Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12)
  • Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20)
  • Pentecost (Acts 2)
  • Epistles (Gal. 3:8)

>> today the church lives between the above scriptures and the below scriptures <<

  • Heaven and Kingdom (Rev. 5, 7)

A sociological reality: homogenous bridges in a heterogeneous church.

McGavran’s idea was correct, that Good News travels across cultural chasms when there are “bridges of God” that are mono-cultural or homogenous.

But “this was a practical reality” that people turned into a “theological reality” to target specific groups and miss the mosaic that McGavran had in mind of a heterogeneous church that has built homogenous bridges of God to multiple cultures.

The missiological reality: making disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:19-20).

MULTICULTURALISM & A Consice Definition w/ a Preference for Intercultural

by Bob Whitesel, D.Min. Ph.D., 1/15/16.

Augusto Portera offers a helpful yet concise definition of “multiculturalism” in his chapter, “Intercultural and Multicultural Education: Epistemological and Semantic Aspects” in Intercultural and Multicultural Education: Enhancing Global Connectedness, ed.s Carl A. Grant and Agostino Portera (New York: Routledge, 2013), p. 16:

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But, Portera argues that multiculturalism does not lead to intercultural understanding, for Portera states (p. 19-20):

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EVANGELISM & Getting out of the “Leave it to Beaver” age of Evangelism #Multicultural

“…Training to reach the nations that have come to our backyards, especially those who relate to an Asian culture, is vastly underdeveloped.”

by Steve Hong, 10/27/15.

I’ve watched every rerun of that show. And here’s the picture of America I remember. Everyone had a mom, a dad, a single family ranch-style house in a suburb, and a car. Everything was neat and tidy and of course, everyone was white, even the guy who would star in “Kung Fu” years later. I’m extrapolating here, but I would imagine that everyone went to church and held the Bible to some authority. Sometimes, I feel the church’s “way” to reach people is stuck in “that” era. We still assume people know the Bible, that everyone is essentially white, and much more. Let me explain…

(graphic courtesy of YWAM-San Francisco)

Here’s what the “world” looks like for me here in the Bay Area. I live in a hyper-diverse place that looks like anything BUT what I saw in those old reruns. 60 of these ethnic groups alone come from nations where there is no home church. Switching from the “Beaver” reference to an “Oz” one, it’s certainly true that we’re “not in Kansas anymore.”

However, churches are still mainly using a Western approach to share the Gospel AS IF we were still in the pre-civil rights 1950s. This worked fine in past generations when many of the popular Gospel presentations were written before immigration opened up in the mid 1960’s to waves of immigration from the East. Trouble is, many Christians are not even aware that their approach is rooted in the West; for a large majority, there is no other known option. So we keep sharing a Gospel that’s very propositional, one that assumes an individual sense of self, one that assumes an authority of Scripture, one that appeals to guilt, and much more. In other words, the very way we share the Good News invisibly says, “this is a Western gospel.” At its worst, this approach says “you are invited into the Kingdom so long as you have our Western culture.” From my perspective, it’s no wonder how the church in China did not grow phenomenally until after all the Western missionaries got kicked out. The majority church today is ill-equipped to share anything other than the Western gospel.

This problem of a Western approach is compounded by an age-old rural approach to the Bible, and henceforth, a rural approach in our methodology. This approach is losing grip in the context of today’s world, where people are increasingly living in urban cores.

Consider what percent lived in urban places a hundred years ago compared to today:

  • 1900 – 8%
  • 2014 – 54%
  • 2050 – 60%

Much of the population growth is happening in Asia and Africa. In the US, the minority culture will soon outnumber the majority culture. This will be true in the nation’s colleges within a decade (and already true in many colleges), and will be true with the overall US population in a few decades.

So far, I’ve pointed out that the world is BOTH urbanizing AND “Asianizing.” Yet, training to reach the nations that have come to our backyards, especially those who relate to an Asian culture, is vastly underdeveloped. This is sad when we consider that both of these things compounded together represents the forefront of missions today. Theologian Ray Bakke says this …

Read more at … https://kingdomrice.wordpress.com/2015/10/27/getting-out-of-the-leave-it-to-beaver-age-of-evangelism/

MULTICULTURAL & Multiethnic: Are They The Same Thing? Yes & No

by Bob Whitesel D.Min., Ph.D., 12/11/15

A student once asked “Is multicultural and multigenerational the same thing?” Well in some ways they are, but in other important ways they are not.  Let me explain.

Multicultural is a broad term that can be an over-arching description for organizations with many varieties of culture within it (for more on this click here).

For instance, both multiethnic and multigenerational are sub-sets of a multicultural organization.  Thus …

  • An ethnicity can be a culture, but
    • Though an ethnicity also has many cultures within it.
    • Because ethnicity is usually tied to your historical geographic area, some ethnicities if they come from a small area can be cultures but those that come from large geographic areas are usually not cultures.
      • So a tribal group in Papua New Guinea might have a unique culture tied to their small geographic area from which they came.
      • But it is often not accurate to say there is any such thing as a Chinese culture.  Here is how I stated this in The Healthy Church: “For instance, China has 50+ recognized ethnic groups but they all originate from the same country.[iv] While all are Chinese, so too are all 50+ different cultures.[v] Since ethnicity is so imprecise, culture is usually preferred.”
  • A generation can be a culture, but
    • A generation can have many cultures within it too.
      • You can call my generation the Boomer Generation and we have some generally common characteristics, e.g. we were born to parents that had endured two World Wars and a world-wide economic depression. That gave us generally and world-wide some similar cultural traits.
      • Within the Boomer culture you have cultures, such as
        • Yuppies, now the 2 percenters,
        • Eternal Hippies
        • Jesus Freaks (now Evangelicals)
        • Nostalgia “Old Guys Rule” Clan
        • Still-think-they-are-30 grandparents, etc.
    • Thus using the term “multicultural” can be a meta-term that creates a general picture but tries not to offend by becoming too specific.  (For ideas for when to use multicultural or another term, keep reading below).
  • And, an organization could even be multicultural and not be multigenerational.

The key is to describe as accurately as possible type of culture you are addressing.

To understand what a culture is and the differences see:

  • Cultures & A Cumulative List of Cultures from My Books, excerpted from my books with page numbers and footnotes.
  • And here are Exercises for Cultural Diversity from my book The Healthy Church: Practical Ways to strengthen a Church’s Heart, Indianapolis: Wesleyan Publishing House, 2013.
  • Plus you will find a list of the variety of cultures just in No. America in “The No. American Cultural Mix” in Preparing for Change Reaction (2007, pp. 50-60).

So, let me give some examples of when to say multigenerational and multiethnic.

So, if your organization needs to be multigenerational, then use multigenerational terminology when writing/discussing your organization.

But, maybe your church (or for instance a church in a denominational district) might need to reach out to a growing Hispanic community. Then that church might need to become a multi-ethnic organization.

One student might refer to their denominational district as “becoming multicultural” because some churches are becoming multi-ethnic and others are becoming multi-generational.

But another student might refer to his ministry as becoming more multi-generational, because it needs to create a partnership between several generations

Thus, one student might use “multicultural” in their discussion (and title of a paper) if they were dealing with an organization of several different cultures, and another student might use “multigenerational” in their discussion (and title of a paper) because they are focusing on reaching out to one specific new culture.  Now, every church is made up of multiple cultures, so don’t try to get too specific.

Capture how your organization will reach out to another culture. Thus, use the terms that most precisely describe what you are doing to expand the evangelistic footprint of your ministry.

Multicultural & The First Champion of the Multicultural Church? (1885)

Commentary by Dr. Whitesel: Mark DeYmaz & I  just finished a “How-to Guide” for churches seeking to transition into a multi-ethnic churches, titled re:MIX – Transitioning Your Church to Living Color.  This article provides some background.

By Mark DeYmaz, Christian Post Contributor, 2/17/14.

Dr. E. C. Morris (1855-1922) was a highly respected African-American minister, politician, and business enthusiast. Recognized by white Arkansans and throughout the nation as a significant leader of the Black community, he often served as a liaison between Black and white communities on both state and national levels… Nearly 130 years ago, then, Morris saw in Acts 17:26 a biblical mandate for multi-ethnic church unity and diversity. In 1885, he wrote:

“Class and race antipathy (a deep-seated feeling of dislike; aversion) has carried so far in this great Christian country of ours, that it has almost destroyed the feeling of that common brotherhood, which should permeate the soul of every Christian believer, and has shorn the Christian Church of that power and influence which it would otherwise have, if it had not repudiated this doctrine. The whole world is today indebted to (the Apostle) Paul for the prominence he gave to this all-important doctrine at Mars Hill. We know that the doctrine is not a popular one and that none can accept and practice it, except such as are truly regenerated. But the man who has been brought into the new and living way by the birth which is from above, by contrasting his own depraved and sinful nature with the pure, immaculate character of the Son of God after mediating what that matchless Prince underwent for him, can get inspiration and courage to acknowledge every man his brother who has enlisted under the banner of the Cross, and accepted the same Christ as his Savior.”  (Read more … http://www.christianpost.com/news/the-multi-ethnic-church-a-historical-challenge-114703/)