Leading a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church: Seven Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them
Why I picked up this book:
I received this book as a gift while attending the Mosaix Global Network conference last fall. It was at the top of my very long and ever growing post-seminary reading list. This book is also of interest for my current leadership position at Gordon-Conwell, as we are working to develop a partnership with the Mosaix Global Network.
Who Should Read Leading a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church:
This is a necessary read for pastors and church leaders that are serving a multi-ethnic church or are in a community where the racial/ethnic and social demographics are changing. It is also a beneficial read for congregants of these churches so they can better understand how to pray for and support their church leadership in this challenging endeavor.
What’s in Store for You:
The author, Mark DeYmaz is the pastor and directional leader of the Mosaic Church, which now has four locations. He has established himself as a visionary and leader of the multi-ethnic church movement. He writes with Dr. Harry Li, a campus minister and elder of the church. The seven common challenges presented in this book are personal obstacles, theological obstacles, philosophical obstacles, practical obstacles, cross-cultural obstacles, relationship obstacles, and spiritual obstacles. The authors address each of these challenges in an informed, thoughtful, compassionate, and encouraging way. They also identify the various ways to pursue multi-ethnic church engagement, and it seems that some of the options are progressive or learn as you go and develop.
I found early in the reading that I am reading this book out of order. It is actually a sequel to Mark’s book titled, Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church: Mandate, Commitments and Practice of a Diverse Congregation which is next up on my reading list. The book opens by marking the stages of the multi-ethnic church movement and briefly presences the biblical mandate of the multi-ethnic church (which his presented in more detail in the first work which I previously mentioned). Mark does his share of introducing to some and reminding others of the scriptural foundation for pursuing a multi-ethnic church model in this book as well.
Each chapter closes with reflection questions for leadership training or small group discussion.
My personal take-aways?
While reading this book, it was clear to me that leading a multi-ethnic church is hard work and a humble pursuit, more so than leading homogeneous congregations because there are so many additional challenges and needs—spiritual, physical, and philosophical—to overcome. Listening well and communicating clearly is essential for ministry in this context. This obstacles can include language barriers, political loyalties, personal preferences (ex. worship music), or theological positions (ex. whether not speaking in tongues will be allowed in the church). Having a biblical conviction and framework, leading well, and communicating often and effectively are necessary for sustaining these efforts.
There are clearly benefits for a homogeneous church model, particularly church growth. The author presents a good case and challenge that maybe church leaders are asking the wrong questions. He writes, “I would argue that the primary question should not be, ‘How fast can we grow a church?’ Rather, it should be, ‘How can we grow a church biblically?’” With the changing ethnic demographics in this country and the growing immigrant populations, how we “do church” and how we determine the primary things and priorities in our church environments really is an evangelistic consideration. If the church is going to be relevant in the next generation, we need church leaders who are culturally competent and understand the diverse cross-cultural landscape in America.
The author does a good job of distinguishing between what we consider theological and biblical verses what we traditionally practice and prefer. “The ability to accommodate various forms of evangelical faith and worship without compromising doctrinal beliefs is an essential characteristic of those who would successfully” lead multi-ethnic churches.
I really enjoyed reading the featured articles which include perspectives from various pastors who are leading this effort all across the country.
“Diversity in the body is not, in and of itself, sufficient to ensure that you will have a healthy, biblical church.” @markdeymaz
“Stay intimate w/ Christ, focused on your mission, & personally alert, conscious of the fact that Satan’s desire is to destroy” @markdeymaz
Next Up on This Topic:
Divided by Faith: Evangelism, Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael O. Emerson
Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church: Mandate, Commitments and Practices of a Diverse Congregation by Mark DeYmaz
What are your thoughts about the changing demographics and what that means for church ministry and evangelism in America?
© Natasha Sistrunk Robinson 2014