2 Thoughts on Multicultural Ministry

After the tragedy of September 11th struck New York City, the Beastie Boys (who lived there) wrote a song about their home called Open Letter to NYC. In the song you sense their appreciation for New York because it is a place where multiple cultures come together as one. You sense a belief that the city should be a cultural blend welcoming people from different tribes, tongues, and nations.

Brooklyn, Bronx, Queens and Staten
From the Battery to the top of Manhattan
Asian, Middle-Eastern and Latin
Black, White, New York you make it happen

Brownstones, water towers, trees, skyscrapers
Writers, prize-fighters and Wall Street traders
We come together on the subway cars
Diversity unified, whoever you are

So, we give thanks for providing a home
Through your gates at Ellis Island we passed in droves

Home to many rejecting no one
Accepting peoples of all places, wherever they’re from
Asian, Middle-Eastern and Latin
Black, White, New York you make it happen

Home to many rejecting no one, accepting people of all places, wherever they’re from. Not only do cities reflect diversity and the creativity of God, but they also welcome people from multiple cultures. And while this is good, cities must not outpace the church in displaying unity in the midst of diversity. Since the gospel is the core of what we believe, here are two thoughts on the relationship between the gospel and ministry that is multicultural, ministry that gathers diverse people.

1. Multicultural ministry reflects the intent of the gospel.

Multicultural ministry reflects God’s design to rescue people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. A multicultural church reflects His holy intent to gather worshipers from every people group. The apostle Paul wrote:

Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” Understand, then, that those who believe are children of Abraham. The Scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and preached the gospel in advance to Abraham: “All nations will be blessed through you.” So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. (Galatians 3:6-9)

The gospel was preached to Abraham because God was foretelling that people from all nations would freely receive the righteousness of God. The good news is that we receive the righteousness of God not because of anything we do, not because of our race, our culture, our works, or anything else. We receive the righteousness of God by faith in Jesus and His work for us on the cross. And God told Abraham that people from every nation will have God’s righteousness credited to them. The gospel was preached to Abraham in the first book of the Bible, declaring that all nations will have people of faith who are blessed and eternally happy along with the man of faith Abraham. The last book of the Bible celebrates this reality.

You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. (Revelation 5:9)

 At the beginning of the Bible, we find that God is going to pursue all peoples through His chosen people Israel. At the end of the Bible, we find that God has gathered worshipers from every people group. In the middle is the command Jesus gave us: Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, all people groups (Matthew 28:19). We live in the middle.

2. Multicultural ministry demonstrates unity in the gospel. 

There is something powerful about people who are different culturally or ethnically being united around something else they have in common. People observe the unity in the midst of diversity and think, They must really be passionate about whatever it is that is uniting them.

This is one reason sports are so great, and one reason the reaction to Donald Sterling’s racist remarks was so heated—the diversity and the openness of a sport that effectively gathers a plethora of ethnicities was attacked. Unity is best seen not in the midst of uniformity. Unity is best demonstrated in the midst of diversity. When a diverse group of people unite around something, the unity speaks volumes about their love and devotion to whatever is the unifying factor.

If a sport can unite different cultures, how much more so should the gospel? If you serve in a location that is diverse and your church is not diverse, you must wrestle with the question “Are we uniting people around the gospel or around uniformity?”

Not to pursue and long for a full local expression of God’s universal church reveals one of two things: (1) We don’t fully grasp the inclusive nature of the gospel. We don’t really believe that the gospel that has rescued us is the same gospel that has rescued someone from another ethnicity. Or (2) we don’t love the church as much as we think we do. We think we love the church, but perhaps we love our view of church in its comfort and homogeneity. But we may not really love what God envisions His church to be.

His church is filled with people from every culture. Home to many rejecting no one, accepting people from all places, wherever they are from.