On 24 April we held the second of our Missional Conversation. The first Conversation, which took place in March, had reflected on trends in world Christianity and missions. In April the Conversation explored multicultural and multi-ethnic churches and contexts.
Tayo Arikawe, one of the directors of the Centre, recognised one difference between a multicultural and a multi-ethnic church; while a multi-ethnic church has different nationalities and ethnicities represented in the church, that does not mean that these different cultures shape the running structures of that church. Whereas a multicultural church will be a church on a journey of sharing power among the different nationalities and ethnicities represented. In essence, it is not enough to have a church that has people from all over the world if those people are not allowed to really be involved and represented, whether through leading services, being part of the leadership team, leading worship in their own styles, doing the children’s talk or being part of our preaching teams.
Another emphasis of April’s Conversation was grounding the vision of a multicultural church in scripture. God is a God of diversity and this is reflected from the promise made to Abraham that through him all the nations will be blessed, to the eschatological hope that we have in Revelation 7 of all people, tribes and nations. This means that building or going on a journey of a multicultural church is a Gospel imperative and not political correctness.
The Conversation also argued the point that state multiculturalism, as promoted by some European countries, is very different from the cultural diversity that the Church is trying to achieve. In the case of Britain, the former is premised on managing migratory patterns and flows through community cohesion and instituting some form of ‘Britishness’, while the latter is God’s vision of unity in diversity that expresses the God that we serve!
The first in our series of Conversations will end on 22 May 2014 by considering cross-cultural missionary leadership and the implication of Jesus’ statement: “a house of prayer for all nations”!
Interested in hosting a Missional Conversation in your area? Contact Israel at firstname.lastname@example.org.