Tuesday, 4 February 2014

We celebrate fitting in - and feeling uncomfortable!

As part of my preparation on diversity I read a helpful blog by an American guy called Jemar Tisby. Jemar says:

‘Ethnically diverse churches authentically witness the gospel’s power to reconcile people to God and each other. In a society shredded by sectarian interests – political, ideological, racial, you name it – churches that demonstrate unity in diversity attract attention.  Multi-ethnic churches demonstrate that there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Gal 3:28’

A powerful quote! In practical terms – it means you can fit in here. If you come to this church regularly you get the ‘both and’ – the way to fit in and the way to feel slightly uncomfortable! You can feel that you fit in because ‘there are people like me here!’ But you can also feel uncomfortable at the same time because we all have cultural preferences and there’s a real clash happening all the time. That comes as part of the deal! But it really does give us a great opportunity to be missional and present Jesus to many.

My own view is that what’s found in King’s and churches like it is the future of urban Christianity. I believe that in the coming decades a white majority church or a black majority church have massive identity challenges coming - particularly to the second generation.  The reason black majority churches started up (and some of them are fantastic!), some of them started in reaction, to be honest, to a not very great welcome from the white community. And as through immigration people have come, have not been accepted, they have found challenge out in the world and so have come to worship together and felt that they needed a safe place – very understandable, not right or wrong. But through the years, my own view on what will happen is that as people make this their home and start to relate in a broader way outside their own people group, particularly as their kids grow and have issues of second generation, there will come issues of identity – both to churches and to individuals. And therefore the King’s type of church will be the norm and is increasingly becoming so.

This poses massive opportunities and challenges for us. The challenge, with all that God is teaching us, is to model something to the best of our ability. To show that it can be done, and more than that – it can be done with joy! And we know that there is pain involved too. But it can be done.