I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a mighty shout, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10 NLT, emphasis added)
Just this week I finished reading a fascinating book, Multicultural Ministry Handbook: Connecting Creatively to a Diverse World. It is the story of the intentional founding of Bridgeway Community Church, a multicultural church 20 plus years ago in Columbia, Maryland, in the greater Washington D.C. area by David A. Anderson and a small team of people. Bridgeway Community Church is an intentional multicultural, nondenominational, contemporary style, performing arts church. This book is co-authored by Dr. Anderson, founding pastor and by Margarita R. Cabellon who serves as the executive director of BridgeLeader Network.
David Anderson has his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Moody Bible Institute and his Doctor of Philosophy in the sociological integration of religion and society at Oxford Graduate School. Margarita R. Cabellon earned her B.A. in social welfare and M.S.W. from the University of Washington with a concentration in children, youth, and families. The many chapters in this book contain the stories of additional staff members and their journey to Bridgeway Community Church.
Many of today’s churches that were at one time in an area of one main demographic people group, are now finding themselves in communities where many ethnic people groups and cultures are represented, and this includes many of our rural areas. Churches that were or are uni(one)culture dominant are now in a position to consider becoming a multicultural church to effectively reach and minister to those in their communities from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. But even if we are interested, how would we go about transitioning from a unicultural to a multicultural church? Great Question! That is why a must read and possible rubric for pastors, staff, church leadership contemplating reaching their local communities with their growing ethnic populations is the Multicultural Ministry Handbook. In this handbook are the four building blocks of a multicultural ministry that are part of the DNA of Bridgeway and they are a:
- Personal Calling and Commitment to Multicultural Ministry
- Clear Vision and Staffing for Multicultural Ministry
- Intentional Pursuit of Multicultural Ministry and Racial Reconciliation
- A Unified Philosophy of Multicultural Ministry
To aid in your prayerful consideration of transitioning your unicultural church to a multicultural church are these four advantages our authors believe multicultural churches have over unicultural churches believing that:
- A multicultural church paints a perfect picture of the power of reconciliation, which is at the core of all community outreach (2 Corinthians 5:18-20).
- A multicultural church creates a curiosity in the community that can be leveraged for community outreach in a unique way.
- A multicultural church conditions its congregation to build bridges in the community because it has already broken down barriers and built bridges across cultural lines within the church.
- A multicultural church positions itself for exponential results in evangelism because it is obeying God by simply being who they are.
This book complemented by the other books shown in this article may be what is needed for current church leadership prayerfully contemplating how their church can more effectively reach their community with the claims of Christ. God’s vision for his church is much larger than what we as church leaders envision for our church more often than not. Why not prayerfully read this book and the others to see if this is indeed the future direction your church needs to move in order to most effectively reach our communities with the claims of Christ. Be the Church, His Church.