Multicultural ministry. Those two words, placed side by side, are often at the forefront of what we imagine when we think of ‘edgy,’ ‘forward,’ and ‘hip’ churches. They have become buzzwords in a church culture that is constantly responding to secular culture, trying to parse out what is unnecessary political correctness and what is a modern reminder of God’s idea for diversity in the church. Some church cultures are based entirely on multicultural ministry, and others have trouble even being open to the idea of diversity in their church community. Regardless, the conversation surrounding this ministry platform is of utmost importance because the modern-day church is diverse as ever.
For our purposes here, multicultural ministry is defined as: ministry involving two or more groups of people with unique, poignant differences intended to produce fruit on every side of the cultural identities present. It is important to note that these aforementioned differences do not have to be purely racial or ethnic, as we tend to think. They include a variety of diversifiers such as ethnicity, race, primary language, age, denominational ties, religious upbringing, socio-economic status, socio-political status, vocational identity, regional/social sub-cultural identities, etc.
Situationally this can exist in countless ways. Maybe there is a church whose congregation is rapidly aging out, and suddenly there is an influx of college students from the local university. That is multicultural ministry. Maybe a middle-class church smack dab in the middle of suburbia decides to reach out to the subsidized housing units four miles away, and bring those people into their community. That is multicultural ministry. In my context, multicultural ministry looked like twenty-five Latino youth (with varying levels of socio-economic/political disadvantages) showing up one night to the youth group of a middle-class, Caucasian church. We’ve never been the same since, and I praise God for it every single day!
Since that night, multicultural ministry has been of high importance in our context, and it all stemmed from an unanticipated move of the Holy Spirit. In fact, that’s the first step to having a thriving multicultural ministry in your church context: be completely yielded to the Holy Spirit. Allow Him to move people, and change your demographic, as He sees fit. You may very well be surprised who He has walk in the door. You may also be surprised who He lays on the collective heart of the church to reach out to in the community. It is in these defining moments of church life when we decide whether we are going to affirm our broadcasted identity as Christ-followers, or whether we are going to let our own desires and cultural comfort get in the way of His intentions for us. Diversity is God’s design for our church, and embracing all parts of the Body is what He commands us to do. (See 1 Corinthians 12)
Whether you are a church lacking in diversity and desiring a move of God in this realm, a church swimming in diversity and struggling in how to manage it, or a church processing the idea of what it means to bring diversity in, know that the Lord has something for you: an invitation. There is an invitation from the Father’s heart for our churches to be fully yielded to Him, trusting that He will bring us the diversity we need and that He will produce fruit through our labors as we follow His lead.