Can you imagine the compelling witness the church could have if we were willing to do the hard work of racial reconciliation and find unity in diversity? When we discover that we can learn so much from people from different backgrounds, our ministries will be stronger. When we learn how to truly listen to one another and discover our blind spots, we will be more Christlike. When we understand that others' issues are really issues for all of us, our impact on our culture will be immense. When we finally digest that there's no "us" and "them"—that it's only "us"—our witness will be unbelievably compelling.
What I've learned as I've talked to pastors of multiethnic churches is that healthy multiethnic ministry doesn't happen by accident—it's intentional. As Aaron Cho, assistant pastor of community life and formation at Quest Church in Seattle, says, even if your church talks about the importance of being multiethnic and you are multiethnic when you gather, "reconciliation has to get down to the level of relationship." We have to "encourage folks to carry on those conversations in their small groups."
Small groups are where the rubber hits the road. More than simply worshiping alongside people of various ethnicities on Sunday morning, multiethnic groups allow us to interact with people who are different from us, learn to really listen to others, and engage reconciliation at a personal, relational level. What can be accomplished in multiethnic small groups will fuel the health of a multiethnic church, and change people—person by person, relationship by relationship.
Multiethnic small groups won't be easy, but they are worth it. Thank you for being willing to engage people who are different from you. We won't always agree, and there will be tension. But my hope and prayer is that we will discover that in Christ we are one—beautiful differences and all.
This article is excerpted from our Training Tool Multiethnic Small Groups.
—Amy Jackson is managing editor of SmallGroups.com; copyright 2015 by Christianity Today.
- What about multiethnic small groups excites you? What makes you nervous?
- Why are multiethnic small groups important for healthy congregations?
- How might we benefit from being in small groups with people who are different from us?