- Joy’s (1) emotional pain was evident as she related her move from her family’s mono-ethnic Chinese church to a multiethnic congregation. She felt guilt as if she had somehow betrayed her home church.
- Bob pastored a multi-ethnic congregation but was frustrated by his inability to recruit leadership from certain groups.
- Jane enjoyed belonging to a church with ethnic diversity, but was disturbed by the “multi-ethnic” label as it raised the spectre of racism. “Why don’t we just focus on our oneness in Christ?” she mused.
- Arif enjoyed the ethnically diverse church he attended, but also often visited a mono-cultural congregation of his ethnic background because of the familiar music and worship style. “Is it OK to belong to two churches?” he wondered.
- Pastor Daud was upset and felt betrayed. After a number of meetings during which all participants affirmed their desire to belong to a multi-cultural congregation, one ethnic group left to form their own church.
Our increasingly multicultural Canadian environment with all its complexity necessitates increased expertise and insight on behalf of church leaders so that they can minister effectively. Cultural competency is required to facilitate healthy relationships and build unified congregations.
- How does a leader deal with the dynamic of valuing cultural distinctives while integrating people from various backgrounds into a church with one identity and purpose?
- How can the inevitable tensions that arise from cultural differences be resolved in positive ways?
- How does a church shift towards an intercultural mindset without losing its missional drive and what form does that take?
Moreover, church leadership who wish to lead their multi-ethnic church into making a relevant gospel impact need to develop the skill to recognize and utilize the strengths of cultural diversity.
- How is the gospel to be contextualized while maintaining the constant of Christ as Lord and savior?
- How can significant relationships be developed with communities that have different priorities, values, and history?
- How can our churches be equipped as confident and competent witnesses to those world representatives who are our fellow Canadians?
How can significant relationships be developed with communities that have different priorities, values, and history?
There is an immense need for committed believers to be trained for effective and relevant service in ethnically diverse contexts both locally and globally. At Fellowship International and NBS we believe that training and preparation for the cultural and theological demands of these environments is essential. Training for effectiveness in cross-cultural ministry needs to occur in real life, real time ministry settings. This is why the Cross-Cultural Leadership Program (CLTP) was created: a mentored, experienced based training program for cross-cultural ministry in Canada and internationally.
Is there a need in your church for expertise in intercultural (facilitating relationships between ethnic groups) or cross-cultural (focus on reaching out to a particular ethnic group) ministry? Is there anyone in your church who demonstrates gifting and ability in developing significant cross-cultural relationships? Northwest Baptist Seminary and Fellowship International Ministries are ready to assist in training such individuals through the innovative and flexible CLTP program. Visit the CLTP website or contact the supervisor of the program, Mark Naylor, via the form below
- (1) The names used are fictional, but all examples are based on true situations