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Four Markers of Meaningful Belonging in Aspiring Multiethnic Congregations

August 15, 2020 | Gregg Caruso


The essence of the oneness of God’s people amid diversity is a Biblical theme explicitly expressed throughout both Old and New Testaments, but the [multiethnic] vision for the Church is perhaps made most explicit in the Apostle Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians (see especially 2:11-3:13).

Based on the work of Andrew Walls, a British historian of missions, what follows are four markers for aspiring multiethnic congregations:

Marker #1: The congregation fosters ongoing growth in the person’s awareness and acceptance of their ethnicity, encouraging them to grow in their uniqueness in Christ.

Marker #2: The congregation accepts the person’s ethnic perspective as normative and valuable to its development as a theological and discipleship community.

Marker #3: The congregation sees the completed work of Christ as the means to regulate [any] person’s [excessive] ethnic pride, combating ethnocentrism and elitism.

Marker #4: The congregation challenges itself to regularly be willing to relinquish personal preferences for the sake of kingdom unity in order to live peaceably and to reflect the gospel to the world.

Multiethnic congregations should seek to become pliable by definition and should not be places of rigid ethnic culture. They can be incubators in which people simultaneously grow in the particulars of how Christian faith can look in their own “skin” and in the pilgrimage of being transformed by how it can also look within the skin of others…The process of ethnic reasoning is how ethnicity is lived out at the micro-level. And the further the gospel is driven down to the micro-level, where Christ makes sense of someone’s lived ethnic experience and reinterprets it more beautifully than anthropology or sociology ever could, then the person not only experiences meaningful belonging to a congregation, but they are also becoming a member of the people that God has purchased for himself in Christ where the Spirit dwells as a holy temple.

To read the full article by Daniel Yang, Director of the Send Institute, a think tank for church planting in North America click here.

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