Earlier this year, two healthy multiethnic churches in and near Charlotte, NC, celebrated double-digit anniversaries.
Together with the people of Mosaic Church (Charlotte), founding pastors Naeem and Ashley Fazal celebrated sixteen years of fruitful ministry on the north side of the city. Further south, founding pastors Derwin and Vicki Gray celebrated twelve years of similar fruit and effectiveness with the people of Transformation Church (Indian Land, South Carolina).
Of course, the anniversary of any plant is significant; particularly those of a church that has passed the seven- to ten-year mark, having moved from survival to stability. But when multiethnic churches planted by non-majority culture leaders reach their early to mid-teen years, it is worth a double mention and honor.
Growing a Multiethnic Church
There are a number of common challenges that must be overcome in any church plant if the church is to effectively grow and develop. Yet there’s an additional set of obstacles facing church planters seeking to transcend ethnic and economic barriers, the overcoming of which are essential for building a healthy multiethnic church.
To be sure, differences in personality and preference exist in a homogeneous church. Yet when entire cultures come together under one roof, the challenges are multiplied. But so are the joys of overcoming them!
Pastors of effective and healthy multiethnic churches, like Naeem and Derwin, have learned some important, basic practices to have success when planting a multiethnic church.
- Empower diverse leaders and staff teams.
- Help church members to develop cross-cultural relationships.
- Build cross-cultural intelligence and competence within the congregation.
- Promote an authentic spirit of inclusion.
- Mobilize diverse believers for collective impact and engagement in their communities.
Furthermore, where these multiethnic churches are also urban or otherwise financially challenged, pastors have learned how to leverage congregational assets to bless the community and generate sustainable income beyond tithes and offerings in pursuit of sustainability. They know, too, that justice is not peripheral but intrinsic to the gospel.
“Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:24, NASB).
From the beginning of my own multiethnic church plant, Paul’s words in 1 Thessalonians 5:24 have undergirded the faith, courage, and sacrifice required of my wife Linda and me to remain patient and persistent for more than 20 years in the urban center of Little Rock. May these words strengthen you too, in this moment … whoever you are, wherever you may be, and in whatever it is God is calling you to do for His glory (see Matthew 5:16), for the sake of the Gospel.
Mark DeYmaz is the directional leader at Mosaic Church (Little Rock, AR) and Woodcrest Chapel (Columbia, MO). He is the co-founder/CEO of Mosaix Global Network, an Outreach magazine contributing editor, and the author of numerous books, including Disruption: Repurposing the Church to Redeem the Community and The Coming Revolution in Church Economics.