Dr. David K. Bernard, general superintendent of the UPCI, offers ten steps for churches to grow in a multicultural environment. The key to growing in a multicultural environment, he says, is to respect, care for, and love all people, valuing them as individuals who are created in the image of God and for whom Christ died.
Multiculturalism and Multicultural Ministry
Instead of multiculturalism, we promote multicultural ministry.
The church does not embrace the philosophy of multiculturalism, which holds that all cultural values are equally valid and that a nation shouldn’t have a common culture. Rather, we recognize that all cultures have strengths and weaknesses, some values are better than others, and biblical teachings take precedent in all cultures. Moreover, nations should unite around important historic values that have forged its identity. In the United States these values include freedom of religion and speech, democracy, limited government, private property, and economic opportunity.
Instead of multiculturalism, we promote multicultural ministry, which means to evangelize and disciple people of every culture and race. In doing so we follow the example of Paul, who remained true to God’s Word but adjusted his approach and methods to reach different ethnicities (I Corinthians 9:19–23). Here are some practical steps that local churches can take to grow in a multicultural environment.Uphold biblical values while adapting methods. The church must teach doctrinal truth, biblical morality, and practical holiness while ministering effectively in various cultural contexts. Click To Tweet
Practical Steps for Multicultural Environments
- Teach and preach racial inclusion and against racism. We must teach that racism is a sin. (See James 2:9; I John 3:15.)
- Practice intentional diversity. We should design our advertising, corporate worship experience, and public ministry to welcome people of various backgrounds. We want all in our community to feel that they could belong to our church.
- Create attainable paths to leadership and ministry for minorities. We shouldn’t appoint people out of tokenism, but we should encourage participation and develop qualified leaders from various backgrounds.
- Listen and learn by making friends with people of other ethnicities, studying other cultures, asking questions, and seeking input from minorities within the church. It is also helpful to study relevant history, such as the Civil Rights Movement.
- Develop social, cultural, racial, and political awareness and sensitivity. The church should be a place where all, including unbelievers, feel welcome, accepted, and safe. While the church must stand for moral values, it shouldn’t promote social or political opinions in a way that makes some people feel unwanted, disregarded, or disrespected. Despite good intentions, ignorance and insensitivity can be as destructive as overt racism. We shouldn’t offend people through derogatory terms, inappropriate humor, or antagonistic opinions but consider the perspectives of others. The goal is not political correctness but Christian witness and effective ministry.
- Uphold biblical values while adapting methods. The church must teach doctrinal truth, biblical morality, and practical holiness while ministering effectively in various cultural contexts.
- Show appreciation for people in their diversity and employ relevant tools of outreach, such as special music,
Show appreciation for people in their diversity and employ relevant tools of outreach.
testimonies, cultural recognitions, international potlucks, and All Nations Sunday.
- Minister to people at their point of need. Everyone needs salvation, truth, acceptance, guidance, and assistance. The church will grow more diverse as it ministers to the physical, social, and spiritual needs of all people.
- Acknowledge and address problems. Leaders should create space to discuss problems, deal with them promptly, and seek reconciliation. (See Acts 6; 15.)
- Love people. Ultimately, the key to growing a multicultural, multiracial church is to respect, care for, and love all people, valuing them as individuals who are created in the image of God and for whom Christ died.
Resources and Links
David K. Bernard – Build your library with these definitive works of Apostolic doctrine.