10 THINGS LEARNED FROM THE CROSS CULTURAL ROUND TABLE DISCUSSIONS.

The Everyday Church is one that involves members living out their Christianity within their culture.  A true multi-ethnic 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:

  1. All discussions must begin from a Scriptural and Christian perspective. Christ is at the center.  This is a major key because it is easy to fall into the trap of discussing issues that are defined by a worldview.  The biggest area is racism.
  2. The Greatest Commands applies to everyone and Crosses over all barriers of ethnicity, culture, and tradition. Loving one another has no barriers.
  3. Everyone has sinned and fallen short of the glory of God; however those who have put on Christ have been justified and been made righteous. “So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.  3:26-29
  4. The ministry of the Cross Cultural church is reconciliation. Reconciliation includes both reconciling one to God (2 Cor. 5:16-19) and racial reconciliation. “All races—not just blacks and whites—scattered throughout the entire world need to be reconciled first to God and second to one another because of the universal impact of sin. This restoration is called reconciliation” One New Man  by Jarvis Williams
 

Ten Things Learned From The Cross Cultural Round Table Discussions.

  1. To understand each other there must be a discussion of theology. A typical African American who has grown up in an AA church will have a good chance of hearing a form of Liberation Theology.  This has several factors that play a role in how one view life experiences differently from a person following a typical Protestant Traditional Theology.  If this is not understood then most people will talk at each other instead of with each other.
  2. Christianity imposes challenges to commonly accepted definitions of racism and social justice, because all have to practice Christianity. The ultimate difficulty is that God has equally saved all and all believers are going to heaven.  There is no difference all sinned and all need Jesus.  Obedience to God’s Word will challenge one to live as a Kingdom person that will sometime be counter cultural to one’s ethnic culture.
  3. Inequality and Oppression exist and are a major concern for minority ethnic groups. The Christian majority needs to accept and see this as a major persecution in the culture of minority ethnic groups. Inequality and oppression are things that the majority community does not experience.  To truly understand a brother and sister in Christ and in a multiethnic family the majority needs to learn how minority ethnic groups are persecuted on daily basis by inequality and oppression. This is a major turning point in unifying the church.
  1. There is absolutely no acceptance or place for racism in the church. The church needs to discipline racism just as if it were disciplining sexual immorality, adultery, and other sins.  Church leadership needs to address the sin of racism just like it would other sins.  This is probably one area where leadership needs to be color blind.  There are special circumstances for ignoring sin based on ethnicity.
  1. Oppression and inequality are sins; however, they must be addressed biblical and as Christians. For example: violence, name calling, and derogatory remarks are scriptural wrong.  This goes for all Christians in all circumstances.  There is never a time where a Christian cannot glorify God; even if the cause is great.
  1. We learned that we are not “color blind, but we are color gifted”. Diversity is a Spiritual gift given by God to be used to His glory and making disciples.  A multi-ethnic church can truly carryout the idea that Paul expresses in I Corinthians 9, “though I am free and belong to no man, I make myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jew I become a Jew, to win Jews, etc….” ( I Cor. 9:19-23).  This is the ultimate gift that God has given the church.  In a Cross Cultural church people can go into their cultures and win people to Christ.
  1. Be careful to note that oppression and inequality are worldview terms and do not necessarily apply to the church community. The Sunday worship hour is considered one of the most segregated hours in the world and this needs to change.  However, one must remember that most people in the world are not Christians and many of the definitions used come from a world view.  Historically, the church has played a major role in oppression, racism, and inequality.  This is the root of why Sunday is the most segregated hour.
  1. Discovered the definition of racism. Most white Christians did not have a clue what “white privilege” meant before the discussion took place.  They actually believed that their AA brothers and sisters were calling them racist.
    1. Racism = racial prejudice + systemic, Institutional power. To say that African Americans can be racist, denies the power imbalance inherent in racism.  Certainly, African American people can act on prejudices to insult or hurt a white person, but there is a difference between being hurt and being oppressed.  African Americans as a social group, do not have the societal, institutional power to oppress white people as a group.
  1. We learned that we must consider others above ourselves. This means there are no majority or minorities in church.  The church will become truly united when people are not looking for outward racial diversity but inward racial reconciliation.
  1. Unity of purpose and mission will require forgiveness and repentance.