Tom Steers, founder and co-director of Asian American Ministries for The Navigators, recently wrote a guest opinion column for Christianity Today (July 7, 2010). The column is entitled, "Needed: More Monocultural Ministries".
In the opinion piece ("not necessarily representing the opinion of the publication," as CT makes clear in the footer), Steers argues that a multicultural society demands more monocultural ministries. In so doing, however, he does not clearly state what he means by use of the term, "ministry." Consequently, I believe he a) confuses evangelism with local church development, b) wrongly exegetes Scripture in attempting to support his claim, and otherwise c) speaks from assumption in stating what advocates of the multi-ethnic church truly believe. With this in mind, the following blog entry respectfully, but critically, challenges Steers' thinking.
"Some argue that since we are an increasingly multicultural society, our churches should become more multicultural. There is a certain logic to that. As long as there are people who want to be culturally and socially multicultural, or multiethnic, there also must be structures for them. Such ministries are crucial for healing America's racial and ethnic wounds. They potentially model the unbiased oneness that Jesus prayed for in John 17."
Theologically informed "advocates" of the multi-ethnic church however (at least, none that I know) are not suggesting, as the author states, "since we are an increasingly multicultural society, (that) our churches should become more multicultural."
Nor are Bible-centered proponents of the multi-ethnic church interested in the "logic" of "providing structures" for "people who want to be culturally and socially multicultural, or multiethnic," as if guided by sociology, political correctness, or changing demographics. Furthermore, while we certainly celebrate any gains that are made through "such ministries" in "healing America's racial and ethnic wounds," informed advocates of the multi-ethnic church understand that so-called racial-reconciliation is only a by-product of two a priori works of reconciliation, namely a) reconciling men and women to God through faith in Jesus Christ, and b) reconciling local congregations to the principles and practices of first century churches such as existed at Antioch and Ephesus, for example. Yes in these churches, men and women of diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds proclaimed God's love for all people by practicing love for one another beyond the distinctions of this world that so often and otherwise divide.
- Monthly issues on web and iPad
- Web exclusives and archives on Leadership Journal.net