(Editor's Note: This post is part 1 of a 3-part blog series on Planting a Multicultural Church)
Nineteen nations are now represented at Trinity Park Church. There are five things I’ve learned from planting and pastoring a multicultural church. Over the next few months, I’ll share them with you here on the blog. Today we’ll look at the first point: Make the Gospel your drawing card.
Paul said in Colossians 1:5 (starting at the end) & 6:
“…the gospel 6 that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth.”
Do you trust in the power of the Gospel to be the drawing card of your church like the Apostle Paul did?
The question you have to answer at the very beginning: Will multiculturalism be your drawing card or will your drawing card be the Gospel of Jesus Christ? It’s a subtle but fundamentally different way of approaching the subject.
Early on in the process of setting down roots in Morrisville and Cary we noted that other organizations outside the church including my kids’ basketball leagues, the Wake County Public School System, and even our neighborhood Homeowners Association also have multiculturalism as a top value. What this means is that as a church you could have multiculturalism as a value but substantively really be no different from your local school, Kiwanis club or youth sports leagues.
So you need to check yourself: Are you pursuing multiculturalism because it’s cool or Politically Correct? There are mainstream cultural reasons to reach out to a diverse people. But those reasons are not the same as the motivations we find in Scripture.
So what should be the main drawing card of any church—ESPECIALLY a church with a collective heart to see the diverse people of their community reached with the Gospel? Our drawing card is and always be the gospel. IN FACT only the Gospel of Jesus Christ revealed in the Scriptures can produce the kind of vibrant, multicultural churches we want to see. Briefly, I’ll explain 4 practical points to help you see what that means.
1—Proclaim the Gospel of grace.
Grace from God is the good news for all peoples of every culture.
Xin Xu and Zhe Li are a Chinese married couple who are now members at Trinity Park. After they had been attending TPC for about a year I finally asked Xin why they had landed at Trinity Park. In my mind, I had always thought it was because they felt loved and pursued as Chinese people. But that’s actually not why they decided to join Trinity Park at all.
One day as the children were leaving the service to go back to children’s church during the sermon I made this very short comment: “I hope you know that our biggest desire for your children is not that they would be well behaved in the service or even that they would master Bible content. Our desire is that the grace of the Gospel will hit them in the heart in a way that will transform their lives.” On that day he and Zhe looked at each other and said, “I think this is where God is calling us.” Xin told me the reason they joined had nothing to do with our desire for multiculturalism, it was because we preached and practiced grace in ways they had never encountered before.
2—Preach Jesus Christ.
Jesus is Lord of all the nations. Revelation 7:9 tells us he is drawing people from every nation to himself. So proclaim him and watch him draw his chosen people to know him from every tongue, tribe and nation.
3—Preach the Scriptures.
God’s revelation to us in the Scriptures is necessary for salvation & for Christian growth. Trust in the power of the Holy Spirit working in concert with the Word of God preached.
Additionally, when you’re preaching with an intended audience of many different nations, don’t try to be too creative. Root your sermon in a text of Scripture. It’s much easier for everyone to follow.
4—Preach a Living Gospel.
Unpack the Gospel very practically, break it down into people’s daily lives. A living Gospel is what all people, it’s what the broken from the nations, are searching for. They’re all asking ‘How can my life be restored?’ We need to show them how Jesus is the answer to that question.
The Gospel of Jesus from the Scriptures is only true catalyst for planting a diverse church.
Here we are at the end of point one in Planting a Multicultural Church and you may be thinking, “Wait, those same elements of preaching grace through Jesus from the Bible should be the elements of any healthy church or church plant. What is the difference between what you’ve done at Trinity Park and what others are doing?”
That’s what the other 4 points are for. But keep in mind that none of the remaining 4 points matter at all apart from being rooted in this first point. Making multiculturalism the goal will mean you most certainly will miss it. The nations are not the primary point of the Bible: the Glory of God revealed in the gospel of Jesus is.
But even though it’s not the main point, the nations worshipping together before the throne of God is certainly a prominent sub-point of the Scriptures. We’ve seen God bless us with a great foretaste of that at Trinity Park. I’ll explain some other keys in the remaining posts in this series.