Four reasons to become a biblically diverse church
Dr. Harold Lewis
Vice President of Biblical Diversity
Throughout our country, communities and culture, we are experiencing a profound demographic shift as more and more people of Hispanic, Asian, African and Caribbean origins and persons from many other cultural communities of non-European origin are on the rise. Now more than ever, our mandate and mission as followers of Jesus Christ to proclaim the gospel and promote the life and dignity of every human being have much to do with our cultural competency.
Many Converge churches are evolving from monocultural to multicultural congregations. That is, in many of our churches more than one language, racial or cultural group is seeking to celebrate the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and embrace him as their personal Lord and Savior. For the gospel to have an impact in a diverse society, not only must we develop the right knowledge, attitudes and skills to reach these communities, we must also understand how important and imperative it is to become a biblically diverse church.
Here are four critical reasons to become a biblically diverse church within your community:
Becoming a biblically diverse church coincides with the mission and mandate of the Church to reach every ethnic, racial and cultural group with the gospel (Matthew 28:18-20). Knowing God has strategically placed persons from different nations within the proximity of a local church invites that church to become missional and evangelical. “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live. God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).
Becoming a biblically diverse church corresponds to the nature of the gospel to reconcile the world in Christ Jesus. (2 Corinthians 5:14-21; Galatians 3:28). Without partiality and prejudice, the local church should reach out as ministers of reconciliation to all those around its doors.
Becoming a biblically diverse church concurs with the nature of the Church to be a redemptive community of baptized believers reflecting the new humanity in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:11-22). The local church, with persons from various ethnicities and cultures, has the privilege of demonstrating how the Holy Spirit working within them has torn down the walls of animosity and hatred.
Becoming a biblically diverse church portrays a picture of what heavenly worship will be like because every nation, tribe, people and language will be worshipping together around the throne of God (Revelation 7:9-12). The local church has the providential privilege to demonstrate this aspect of the unified worship experience that is to take place in the future heavenly community.
The goal of these four reasons for becoming a biblically diverse church is to encourage the cultural inclusion and full participation of all God’s people into the life and ministry of his Church by building up our Christian identity in a spirit of unity in diversity.
Just as with the first evangelization mandate found in Matthew 28:19-20, the new evangelization mandate also compels us to go and make disciples of all nations. In our current culture and communities, we do not need to go too far to find people “of all nations.” That’s our gift and blessing from God, as well as our challenge.
Dr. Harold Lewis, Vice President of Biblical Diversity
Dr. Harold D. Lewis Sr. is Converge’s Vice President of Biblical Diversity. A native of Greenwood, Mississippi, he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tougaloo College in Tougaloo, Mississippi, a Master of Divinity from Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta and a Doctorate of Psychology from the University of the Rockies in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He also has been awarded multiple honorary doctorates. Dr. Lewis comes to Converge with over three decades of pastoral and leadership experience as a turnaround church pastor and a transformational coach for clergy and laypersons. His ministerial experience also includes more than 10 years of multicultural and justice responsibilities, which included collaborating with and resourcing Native American, Micronesian, Hispanic, Korean and Haitian ministries, as well as Black Methodists for Church Revival and the Conference Committee on Religion and Race.