As I began research on diversity and the church, I really wanted to explore multi-cultural churches in my local area. The first local church featured was Community Bible Church. This past weekend my family and I had the privilege of visiting Grace Community Church in Greensboro, NC.
We visited Grace for one reason, the mission presented when I first clicked on their website: Making disciples who live out the gospel crossing racial and economic lines.
The leaders at Grace understand that reconciliation and biblical justice are not isolated issues. They also understand that making disciples means equipping believers to live out the gospel. Living the gospel is not simply a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, it is embracing the community of people to whom we are called to love and serve.
To the question, “How to inherit eternal life,” Jesus responds, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’ (Luke 10:27 [NIV]).”
Believers in the early church understood and faithfully practiced loving their neighbors.
Acts 2:42-47 and Acts 6:32-34 presents believers with convictions and desires to fellowship with others, be generous to those in need, and have sincere hearts towards one another. This is the loving environment of Grace Community Church. On Wednesday evenings, Grace provides weekly meals to those in need. They offer a Winter Emergency Shelter for the homeless. The shelter offers food, fellowship, and Bible study to participants. Grace offers a tutoring ministry to assist children whose parents may not be able to help with school work. They are in the process of developing a mentoring ministry for young boys, many who do not have fathers in their homes. Moving forward with this ministry requires long-term commitments from the men of Grace and they are stepping up to the challenge.
Lessons Learned: The leaders at Grace understand many of the “platform” principles we have shared throughout this series. They have a diverse pastoral team. Their elder board is diverse (three of the eight elders are African American). They are intentional about looking for qualified leaders from diverse backgrounds. They understand the need for a diverse presentation of worship, and are currently making this challenge a top priority.
Lead from the Front: One of the most fundamental leadership principles I learned while serving in the military was “leadership by example.” In other words, leaders don’t ask people to do things they are unwilling to do themselves. Not only that, leaders should be the first to step up to the plate to take action so that others will follow.
In the area of racial reconciliation and living out the gospel, Senior Pastor, Bill Groans, leads his congregation from the front. He is intentional about building relationships with those who are different from him. He is intentional about placing himself in situations where he is the minority. This is a sign of his humility and servant leadership. Pastor Groans regularly gets his hair cut in a barbershop where he is the minority, frequents a hip hop dance team (I would be interested in seeing what that looks like), and participates in a prayer group with other minority leaders. Pastor Groans challenges his congregation to live out biblical values because he does so himself.
The mission of Grace is clear. They thrive because of their dependency on God and faithful commitment to His Word. It is also clear from the first two local church snapshots that multi-cultural churches are a result of people looking and connecting outside of the four walls to the communities in which God has called them as salt and light.
How are you shining the light in your local community?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2012