When I hear people talking about diversity, the following concepts come to mind: inclusion, closing the gap, myths and power. As we think about our leaders and our churches, we must commit to building a more culturally competent and relevant structure within our denomination and within local churches. Diverse leaders will bring diverse ideas to the table.
Leaders should reflect the communities they serve. If that is not the case, we will drift apart, and we will find that we are in danger of isolating ourselves and, eventually, dying out.
The composition of our churches is changing dramatically, and quickly. Hispanics will account for at least 60 percent of this nation’s population growth between now and 2050 (source: pewhispanic.org). It is imperative that we develop an effective means of ministering in that huge sector of the population.
It is not enough for a non-Hispanic church to install a Hispanic pastor-leader to minister to Hispanics. We cannot rely only on our “brand” to capture the attention of the Hispanic community by having a Latino as leader.
The church must make the experience fulfilling and life-changing within some key cultural and language connection. Otherwise, Hispanics will look elsewhere for that experience. Let me be clear: This is a missional issue. We have the whole gospel, and, with the whole church, we must go to the whole world.
My family had to leave Cuba in the mid-1960s because of the government’s persecution of pastors and Christian leaders. Public meetings were prohibited, and evangelical churches were closed.
My dad was one of those pastors who had to close the church, pack and leave the country in haste. He started a mission work in Spain. I came to the U.S. as an adult, and I planted a church in the early 1980s. Psalm 126, “A Pilgrim Song,” challenges me to dream:
It seemed like a dream, too good to be true,
when God returned Zion’s exiles.
We laughed, we sang,
we couldn’t believe our good fortune.
We were the talk of the nations—
“God was wonderful to them!”
God was wonderful to us;
we are one happy people (Ps. 126:1-3, The Message).
God has indeed been wonderful to us, and we can declare that we are one happy people. I’m thankful that Jesus closed the gap 2,000 years ago. All of the barriers and divisions cease to exist as we embrace unity within the body of Christ. I love the words that Paul penned to the Galatians:
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise (Gal. 3:26-29, NKJV).
I hope that you will join me in committing to constructing a future that emphasizes Christian unity among diverse people groups. We may be different, but we are all part of God’s family through Christ Jesus.
HOW YOU CAN PRAY
Thank God that He chose to close the gap between us through His sacrifice. Ask Him how your church can truly serve those from different cultures while encouraging unity and focus on Christ above all.
Praying with us? Include what you are praying for in a comment below.