A few weeks ago I had the privilege of visiting Steele Creek Church of Charlotte. With approximate demographics of 45% white, 35% African American, 15% Latina, and 5% other racial or ethnic groups, Steele Creek is one of the largest multi-cultural churches in Charlotte. On a typical weekend, Steele Creek is the place of worship to approximately 2000 adults and 500 children and youth.
The first thing I noticed, when exiting my car and walking towards the main campus, was the beautiful flags that waved outside of the worship facility. As guests, we were invited to enter the church café where we enjoyed a free cup of hot chocolate and hot crescent rolls. (I know right!)
We arrived a little early, so we waited in the café for the previous service to end. Once the service ended, we did not experience anything magical when observing the congregants. We simply saw a reflection of everyday life in America. Actually, I would equate the visual to being in an airport. There were short people and talk people, women and men, old people and young people, and people of all different races and ethnicities exiting the main sanctuary. It was a beautiful thing to see in church.
Steele Creek is a young church (17 years old) that is thriving and I want to share some of my observations as a means of encouragement and education.
Every Tribe and Tongue: While they host various Celebration Services to preserve the unique cultures and native languages of different people groups (African, Arabic, Brazilian, Haitian, Latino, and One New Man Messianic) there is much diversity in the main worship services held in the English language on Sunday mornings.
Preach Preacher: The pastor is an expository preacher which simply means that he preachers verse by verse directly from the Bible. There were no main points or subpoints. There were no catchy stories or jokes to entertain. The charisma of the presentation of the word is not what drew people in. However, I did notice something unique to the pastor’s presentation of the Word. In between the sharing and explaining of the biblical passages, he appropriately shared testimonies from people in the congregation. As an African American woman, this approach took me back to my childhood where testimonies were always incorporated during Sunday morning services. It seems we have forgotten John’s words that the people of God “overcame him [the devil] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony (Rev 12:11).” We must continue to testify for our testimonies are powerful and effective to reveal the goodness of God and the power of the Holy Spirit. Testimonies remind people that God’s Word is still relevant and God is still actively at work in our lives today.
Language/Vocabulary: I pay a lot of attention to what people say. I also pay attention to what people do not say. In this particular case, the pastor continued to use the words “kingdom” (to focus the priority on God and God’s agenda for His church) and “missions” (to reference God’s work for his people). I did not get a sense that this language was unique to the Sunday morning we attended. I suspect this is the language that is used regularly to share the vision of the church, which is God’s mission for the world. I suspect this language is used to keep people focused on The Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20).
Discipleship: The “language” used at Steele Creek is expressions of what is in the hearts of the leaders. The vision of the leaders is shared throughout the congregation through discipleship groups. Steele Creek priorities small group home fellowships, which means they prioritize relationship building with people. Not only does Steele Cree prioritize discipleship, they train leaders to disciple others well.
Platform: The main worship service consists of a multi-cultural praise team.
Leadership: Steele Creek has a diverse leadership team. They have the right people at the table and they have leaders who are courageous enough to “Do the Right Thing.” Their team of associate pastors include: African Connection Pastor, Arabic Connection Pastor, Brazilian Connection Pastor, Haitian Connection Pastor, Latino Connection Pastor, and a Messianic Connection Pastor. Seeing this body of worshipers from different tribes, languages, people groups, and nations must be beautiful in God’s sight.
Thank you to the Steele Creek leadership team for generously providing information to support my research.
Did you find any Aha! Moments or these pearls of wisdom beneficial? Would you like to further explore any of these?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2012