dimanche 13 février 2005

Multiculturalism in the church

I'm starting to notice this more and more, partly because I'm leaning towards this topic as a part of my thesis paper.

The world all around us is multicultural (Canada, at least), but are our churches reflective of that? Something that I've been doing for a while has been to sit back and look around me when I'm in church. I mentally calculate how much of the congregation is of a visible minority. One of the incredible joys I have at my own church is seeing so many cultures being represented in our worship services, choir, ministries, and staff.

I just had the opportunity to attend a different church for a school project, and noticed that it was completely homogeneous. It was an awesome church and everything, but I always wonder what it must feel like for a newcomer of a different race and ethnicity to sit in and look around. One thing I know about being a visible minority is that it never escapes you. No matter what the setting, it's always at the back of your mind, even if it is subconscious.

True, there are ethnic churches that people can attend. But for people growing up in a multicultural society and life who are used to such an environment, it can almost be a shock to revert to a church of only one cultural group. I hope more churches are recognizing this and doing their best to accommodate a multicultural setting so that people of all races feel that they can worship the Lord without wondering what the other 99% of the congregation thinks of them.

I'm somewhat rambling here. This thought will (hopefully) get more refined in my paper. I guess the picture I have in mind right now is Revelation 7:9. What a glorious day that will be!

Update: I found this great quote, just an hour after I wrote this post.

Ethnic, racial, and other conflicts are tearing cities and nations apart, and many believe that our cities are sliding down the Bosnian road. Where will the world look for examples of inter-racial relationships? We believe that a significant part of the church's public ministry must be to model healthy cross-cultural relationships, to look more like the kingdom and less like our hyper-segregated culture (2 Corinthians 5:17).
- Mark R. Gornik, "Between Resurrection and Reconciliation", 1994 Urban Mission magazine

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