Posted on Aug 27, 2015 in Blog
The Everyday Church is one that involves members living out their Christianity within their culture. A true multiethnic church is using the gifts of ethnic diversity to reach people for Christ. Cross cultural has a double meaning; first to live as a follower of Christ in each member’s culture, and second, learning the culture of each member of the church. The cross that Jesus asked his disciples to carry is not the cross of sin; rather, it is the cross of discipleship. The crossing of culture means that the church takes the time to understand where each member is coming from and their experiences in living the Christian life. This summer this idea of Cross Cultural was the centered of four round table discussions. The following is what was learned from these very open discussions:
FOUR PRINCIPLES THAT APPLIED TO ALL DISCUSSIONS:
Ten Things Learned From The Cross Cultural Round Table Discussions.
Posted on Jul 9, 2015 in Blog
Are Church Growth Principles Perpetuating Segregation?
Most students of church growth have heard the often quoted phrase “Church worship times on Sunday are the most segregated times in the United States”. The major reason for this is racism and the need for racial reconciliation. I served in a church of Christ in Tennessee that takes it roots back to 1835; one of the earliest “Restoration Movement” churches. Some of the historical stories that were passsed on should make the church cringe today. For instance; the women and men sat on separate sides of the building and African Americans could stand in the foyer. Eventually the African Americans started their own church. A perfect example of this is the history of Emmanuel African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church in Charleston, S.C. Today most churches are content with their segregated status and the second biggest reason may have been provided by Church Growth Principles. The following are few Church growth principles that one can decide for themselves if they are perpetuating segregated churches in the 21st century.
Principle # 1: Homogenous Groups
The principle behind homogenous groups is the phrase “like kind attracts like kind.” This phrase is not meant to perpetuate segregation; however, it is still the number one growth principle. It is justified in many ways; such as, people are more comfortable with their own ethnic group, different ethnic groups have their own set of problems, and these churches are the fastest growing. So churches continue to plant Caucasian, African American, Hispanic, and other one hundred percent ethnic group churches, in the name of salvation. All of these churches would openly welcome anyone who desired to come, but it is very difficult to cross ethnic groups in a predominantly one ethnic church. The latest statistics show that only 8.5% of churches in the United States are multiethnic. Multiethnic defined by church growth as a church that has at least 25% of another ethnic makeup.
Principle: #2 Targeted Group
In the 1990’s the book Purpose Driven Church, became the manual for church growth principles and many still advocate these principles today. The principle for evangelism is to find a group of people who are going to be most receptive to the church and target them. In Purpose Driven Church this was a fictional character known as “Saddleback Sam”. Please keep in mind that this book is nearly twenty years old and was written before social media; such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. However, most churches are still picturing who their “Saddleback Sam” is and are transferring their ethnicity on him. It does not occur to the White church that if they are targeting a White demographic group, that this is perpetuating segregation. The same is for any ethnic group that practices this church growth principle. In church growth terms this is called “extension growth”. Extension growth is when a church plants another church like itself.
Principle #3: Contextualization
“Christian contextualization can be thought of as the attempt to communicate the message of the person, works, Word, and will of God in a way that is faithful to God’s revelation, especially as it is put forth in the teachings of the Holy scripture, and that it is meaningful to the respondents in their respective cultural and existential contexts”. This means the best way to plant a church is to put the message in the context of the hearer’s culture. Contextualization takes into account; geography, demographics, linguistics, history, and culture. While contextualization is very important, it cannot be an excuse to justified segregated churches.
Global diversity is at its highest point in the United States. The millennial’s do not think about diversity because they have lived with it their whole life. In fact, they think it is strange that people even talk about it. It is going to be very hard and virtually impossible for an established church to change. However, established churches can plant new churches that follow through with the idea of racial reconciliation. The New Testament church was not concerned with homogenous groups, nor target groups, or contextualization. New Testaments churches followed the pattern of Jesus and that is everyone needed the good news of the Gospel. I believe that church growth principles can still be applied to a multiethnic setting. A multiethnic church is a church that has been gifted by the Holy Spirit to “go and make disciple of all ethnic groups” (Matthew 28:19).
 David Hesselgrave and Edward Rommen, Contextualization: Meanings, Methods, and Models (Pasedna, CA: William Carey Library, 1989), 200.
Posted on Jun 23, 2015 in Blog
The Power of Diversity
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, “so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us…” (Rom. 12:4-6).
The Church is Designed to be Diverse:
When Paul writes about Spiritual gifts he always does it in context of the body or the church. Just like the body is made up of different members, the parts cannot function as a body.
Paul states it this way,
And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be (I Corinthians 12:16-18).
In other words God specifically designs the church with diverse gifts.
The Role of The Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit’s primary role is to be a witness of Jesus. Jesus on several occasions states that the Holy Spirit will testify about him, he will bring remembrance of his words to his disciples, and he will witness the beginning of the church. If the primary role of the Holy Spirit is to be a witness of Jesus, then the primary function of Spiritual gifts from the Holy Spirit is to witness to Jesus. The power of diversity is that the church is prepared to be a witness of Jesus. The primary purpose of the fruit of the Spirit is to live like a follower of Jesus. Without diversity there is a limited witness. This is why a multiethnic church can have a tremendous impact for Jesus. Multiethnic is a diverse gift from God that allows a church to reach out to all cultures. On the day of Pentecost, the first day of the church in Acts chapter two, the people heard the apostles in their own language. What did the different people hear? They heard the one message of Jesus. There were diverse languages for one mission and message.
Warnings about Diversity:
The first warning of diversity is when the individual diverse gift seeks attention over the mission. One sees this in the world today. Abortion is a result of an emphasis on the diversity of women. Same-sex marriage is an emphasis of diversity by recognizing the homosexual community. Diversity of religion starts emphasizing other religions. Every religion begins to cry out for their own special holiday. When diversity is emphasized then it becomes the sole mission. A flag in South Carolina is an emphasis of a diversity of heritage. The result is a nation that is daily dividing more and more and the church is doing the same.
The second warning is diverse Spiritual gifts will become divisive. Paul is writing to a church that is divided in Corinth. He writes, “…. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other” (I Cor. 12:24-25). People were using the Spiritual Gift of speaking in tongues as the sign above all other signs. Others were emphasizing who baptized them. When the emphasis is on diversity recognition then division will always follow.
The third warning is that diversity becomes a sign that one is not an equal member of society of the church. Paul wrote, “on the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable” (1 Cor. 12:22). In today’s world diversity has the context of meaning that someone is being left out. In the corporate world the emphasis on diversity is because the corporate world does not appreciate diversity and has deliberately under hired minorities. The answer is to be intentional about diversifying hiring practice, but not because of a percentage, but because the person’s diversity is valuable to the company and to the global economy. In the church, diversity is the way the Holy Spirit has powered it to reach and love people that others cannot. Just like in Acts chapter 2 where the diverse languages cross the cultural barrier so too is the mission the diverse Spiritual gifts. Every gift is valuable to the mission.
The fourth warning is without love it does not matter how many diverse gifts a church has it worthless. Paul writes, “if I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1Cor. 13:1). When discussing diversity emphasis loving one another. Christians us their diverse gifts to love and serve people. The Holy Spirit never draws attention to himself. When discussions of diversity are infused with love then people only get into shouting matches without any solutions.
How to Use the Power of Holy Spirit Diverse Gifts
Posted on Jun 12, 2015 in Blog
Seven fold Purpose of NT Focusing on Being Cross –
Posted on Jun 11, 2015 in Blog
Posted on May 12, 2015 in Blog
Why is Salvation Not Enough?
The apostle Paul wrote, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ. For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead” (Colossians 2:6-12).
Hardly a day goes by that does not have a conversation centered on being fulfilled spiritually. There is this constant searching or in their terms “hunger” for something more. Paul makes it clear that Jesus is all that one gets, but he is way more than enough. When Jesus gave the fourth Beatitude; “blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled” (Matthew 5:6), he meant that when one seeks righteousness there would be fulfillment. He never intended for a Christian to be in a constant state of hunger. Many Christians have misplaced there hunger pains as a spiritual quest to find fulfillment not realizing that grace through Jesus Christ is the fulfillment. This quest has left many starving to death even though they are saved.
Unfortunately this feeling of needing more, not enough, or missing something is just that; a feeling. These feelings have become cravings that are drowning out the voice of God in scripture. Here are three ways to overcome these endless unfulfilled cravings through the grace of Jesus.
The Bible is the absolute word of God and is written by the Holy Spirit so that one may know that they are saved. The whole story of the Bible is that there is a God who loves us so much that he sent his Son so they could come home. The Bible is autobiography of love. Christians do not read in the Bible that they are not loved by God. The purpose of the Bible is to give one the knowledge that they are loved by God through Jesus. If one feels differently someone or something else is deceiving them. The knowledge of God’s love will confirm the feelings of God’s love. The feelings of God’s love will not lead to the knowledge of God’s love. The Word is the food that fills the soul.
Recently a young lady was bemoaning the fact that she felt discriminated against because the church did not recognize female leadership. She had been studying different egalitarian writings and was convinced that she was less than equal in the site of the church because she was a female. This soon translated into a discussion on spiritual fulfillment, because she could not hold an office in the church. Culture has stolen her salvation. The discussion of any issue starts with; we have all been saved by grace. Salvation is where the conversation starts. This is the same with many of the hot topic items; such as, diversity, race, and women’s roles. Culture wants one to believe that they are being left out, not loved, or even oppressed. Salvation says you lack nothing in Christ; celebrate!!! Start the conversations with salvation and then look at the issues. As a Christian, the discussions should not start with I am lacking something or I am not being fulfilled. This is Satan using culture to steal your salvation and your joy.
A person worships because he/she is saved. Too many Christians are defining worship as a time where they ae trying to get a feeling of holiness and worth. Worship is described in terms of how it makes one feel. The focus of most of these feelings surround the music in worship. Worship in the Bible is what one brings to God, not what one gets out of it. In fact, the one feeling that is associated with worship in scripture more than all others is an awesome fear of God’s presence. Again, one worships in praise and rejoicing because of salvation. Worship is not the place to receive confirmation that one is saved. Entering the courts seeking something that will confirm your relationship with God will always leave one in doubt. This is a lot like the drug addict who continues to search for a higher high. The worship seeker is seeking a higher high through worship and is rarely satisfied for long. Worship starts with salvation and leads to participation, and transformation. One worships because of God’s grace.
Posted on May 8, 2015 in Blog
“Making an eternal difference in our communities daily”
District 4 Faith Base Organization Initiative
Milwaukee is divided into seven police districts. District Four is located on the Northwest side and is Northtown’s community. The mission of the District 4 Faith Base Initiative “is to stabilize our neighborhoods by bringing resources of our respective organizations together to help people see, and gain, a path which turns them away from crime and instills hope for a better future. The focus is the communities we serve” Northtown’s mission is to partner with the District 4 Faith Base Organization Initiative to help the people of the Millwood Community by showing Christ’s love through our actions.
How Can I Get Involved?
Every other Saturday a group meets at 105th Street and Mill Rd from 11-12. The group is made up of representatives from the various organizations of District 4. The group walks the neighborhood, cleans up trash, provides information for resources, and prays for the community as it walks. Northtown needs to be represented in this group. Northtown is doing an awesome ministry with the Byron Kilbourn Elementary School, we need to make a difference in our own neighborhood community by being a part of the D4FBO. There is no door knocking, preaching, or evangelistic pressure; it is simply showing Christ’s love with no strings attached. We are not even trying to get them to come to church, but we are letting them know we are neighbors who care about the community.
When Do We Start?
Next Saturday, May 16th meet Alex at Northtown at 10:45. This is not only part of NT’s vision it is our responsibility to strengthen the community. Any questions contact email@example.com.
Posted on May 7, 2015 in Blog
Four Ways to become Cross – cultural
The goal for a church is not to have different ethnic groups, languages, or cultures. The goal is unite the differences and glorify God. Everyone in the church was a sinner who needs Jesus and has been saved by grace. Here are four ways that every Christian can transform without conforming to the world:
Be Scripturally Authentic
Scripturally authentic is when one views the Bible as the word of God and lives by it. His life is transformed by God’s word and His grace, and his life exemplifies this transformation. The Christian has a biblical worldview and weighs everything according to God and with godly wisdom.
Develop cross ethnic and cross cultural relationships
In order for a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural church to carry out God’s mission of making disciples each member needs to cross over the aisle and learn what it means to live as a Christian in that particular persons world ethnic group and worldly culture. A cross-over church learns the difficulties of living in a culture with a different view point. It is not a point whether there is racism or not, the point is that racism is alive and real and when it is recognized then there can be prayer and not judgement. Cross-over goes for all ethnic and cultural groups in the church and not just for the majority. Cross-over means that one does not look at their brothers and sisters the same way that they view the people of the world. Racism exist in the world, but do not bring it to the cross of Christ and believe that God is part of the systemic problem.
Christianity transcends culture
A Christian is a Christian no matter their ethnic or cultural background. Glorifying God in all circumstances transcends culture. The many lists of the sinful nature found in the N.T. include all groups. There is not an ethnic or cultural excuse for the sinful nature. Sin does not recognize differences. Sexual immorality, murder, hate, racist remarks, and violence are sins in all cultures. Cultural, ethnic groups, or even minority oppressed groups are not excluded from sin.
Make Disciples of Christ rather than disciples of culture
When the discussion on racism, cultural differences, and ethnic diversity arise it must start with how does Jesus want us to live? Many ethnic groups in their desire to educate their children to understand systemic problems in their culture are making disciples of culture. Children are learning the bitterness, anger, and hurt of past generations and they are not seeing Christ. The only way to change the culture is to change the worldview to a biblical view. The church and parents are commanded to make disciples. Knowing and understanding the history of injustice is needed, but incorporate how Christ can change the future.
Posted on May 6, 2015 in Blog
Jesus transcended racism and culture
Jesus showed that everyone needed him and God. On many occasion he used those of a different race, culture, and ethnic background as example of this transcendence. The Samaritan women at the well points out that she is a women and a Samaritan and that a Jewish man should not even be talking to her; but Jesus reveal to her first that he is the Messiah. When Jesus is questioned about who is the neighbor in the second command, Jesus uses a Samaritan man. Only one of the ten lepers that Jesus heals comes back to thank him and he is a Samaritan. There is the beautiful story of the Syrophoenician woman in Mark 7. One of the best examples is that of the centurion who did not allow Jesus to come to his house because he believed that Jesus could just say the words and his daughter would be healed. Jesus states that he has not seen any greater faith in all Israel and this man was a Roman soldier hated by all. When it comes to culture and racism the discussion starts with Jesus. Any other discussion begins with sin.
Posted on May 5, 2015 in Blog
Christianity and Culture
There is a lot written today about multi-cultural and multi-ethnic churches. Statistics show that by 2050 in the United States that Hispanics will be the majority and Caucasians will be the majority minority. The question is how will the church change to be relevant to the multi-ethnic/ multi-culture world? The one thing it cannot do is start from a particular cultures world view and then try to work in Christianity. Multi-ethnic and multi-cultural churches are not the goal. The goal is be the transformed church in an ever changing world.
The Two natures
God and Satan agree that there is only one race, and that is the human race. God’s plan is for reconciliation back to him and Satan’s plan is keep as many as he can from going back to God. The struggle is between two natures; the sinful nature and the nature lead by the Spirit. This is the basis of a universal spiritual warfare that is ongoing until final judgement. Paul describes the sinful nature this way “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath” (Eph. 2:1-3). The sinful nature is made up of Satan, the world, and our disobedient self. Paul describes the Spirit nature this way, “… because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved” (Eph. 2: 4-5). In other words, the alternative to the sinful nature is grace.
According to Paul the sinful nature consists of three things; Satan, the world, and self. Satan is the one who brought sin into the world. The story of Adam and Eve is the beginning place. Sin is a result of Satan. Sin is also the cause of division in the world at the tower of Babel in Genesis chapter eleven. The sins of the individual have and will always be the same; the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life. The question is how does the sinful nature shape cultural and ethnic differences? In the Garden, Satan did not just change the relationship that man and women had with God, he brought in a new worldview. This worldview begins in sin and shapes people by the world. Eventually, different cultures and divisions are shaped by the worldview planted by Satan in the Garden. Today the worldview is individualistic. Every person has an eclectic worldview that fits their own life. The results of the sinful nature are:
Separation from God
A different Worldview
The sad thing about Satan, the World, and Self, is that they are all dead; however, they will always be here until the end.
God’s solution to the sinful nature is Grace. His solution to Satan, the world, and self is Jesus Christ. Jesus returns and reconciles the human race back to God. God’s view of life and the world is restored and differences caused by sin no longer separate those who are in Christ. There are three things that every human has in common; they are made in the image of God, they have all sinned, and they all need Jesus. Grace provides reconciliation to God. It brings a biblical worldview and perspective. There is now an ethnic mission to go and make disciples of all people and unity in Christ is pursued over selfish desires. Cultural transformation is taking place and racism is gradually replaced with Christ.