The World at Our Door
How your church can cross cultures
in your own backyard
In our Ministry Centre in BC, we have an article from the Vancouver Province posted on our bulletin board that states that over one million immigrants (mostly from Asian countries) will come to their senses and move to Vancouver over the next 20 years.
Do you remember singing in Sunday school about how Jesus loves “all the children of the world”? This same Jesus is giving us the opportunity to live out this simple song because he has sent to our doorstep the people he loves from every tongue, tribe and nation.
If we want to change the world, then we need to learn as a Fellowship how to plant ethnic and multicultural churches because church planting remains the most effective way to bring people into a life-long relationship with their Saviour.
I am certainly no expert on this topic, but before I share a few ideas how we can get involved in planting ethnic churches, let me make two observations about what makes an ethnic church plant successful:
• The church planter is from the same ethnic group.
• The church is part of an international network that stretches into their country of origin.
Since most of us will not be attending ethnic church plants, I would encourage you to consider these ways to get involved in planting cross-cultural churches so that together we can bring the nations to Christ.
1. Embrace a new missionary strategy.
As we continue to send missionaries into foreign fields, we must now equally invest in leaders to reach the people God is bringing to us. Immigrant populations new to our cities are often open to our friendship, new ideas and ultimately Christ. Just as many of our relatives found community, care and purpose through the welcome of a church as they came to Canada, I believe immigrants today have the same spiritual and felt needs.
I am convinced that these ethnic people who become followers of Jesus in Canada will have the same burden to reach their family and friends that we have. If we train them, they will sacrificially return to their homelands with the message of the gospel.
2. Open our eyes to the people around us.
I was the pastor in Castlegar, BC, (look it up on a map) for ten years. It happened to have the least number of visible minorities of any place I have lived. Yet, even in Castlegar, our church had a significant ministry reaching out to students at an ESL program at our local college. Through some College and Career students, our church was influencing the lives of families in Korea and Japan. We can’t expect that God will allow us to win the spiritual battle in our cities among the ethnic populations if we are unwilling to share the love of Jesus with the ethnic businessmen, the refugees, students, etc. that share our communities already.
3. Get cross-cultural training.
Fellowship International has some excellent resources for cross-cultural training. Contact one of their reps (firstname.lastname@example.org), check out this resource link (http://www.fellowship.ca/qry/page.taf?id=221), or ask for Mark Naylor who works for the Fellowship and Northwest Baptist Seminary (see his article “Personal Jerusalem” on this website).
Another way to become cross cultural is to take a missions trip. However, instead of sending your young people to an exotic place like Mexico, which may seem attractive during January, join the youth for a mission’s trip to the foreign culture that exists in the urban centre closest to you.
4. Invest in church leaders.
Many successful ethnic church planters are immigrants themselves. Often they come to our country with two purposes: to make a life for their family and to serve Christ. Some come without much formal education, and their two purposes of family and church keep them so busy that they don’t have the time or resources to be trained as pastors. These church leaders are proud and faith-filled, and they won’t be coming to you for help. Talk to your favourite Seminary that you support. Ask them to provide training opportunities that fit these courageous men and women’s needs and schedules. Go one step further and offer to sponsor an ethnic pastor to be trained.
5. ***Warning: Suggestion that Borders on Meddling***
If you are part of a city church that has seen its best days behind it, recognize that your greatest contribution to reach the nations may be to welcome an ethnic church into your building. Unfortunately, few churches buy into this vision, and they merely invite another church to become a second class tenant in their facility while the English-speaking congregation remains in control as the landlord. I want to encourage you to go the extra mile. Don’t rent out space, but find the ethnic church in your area that is making the greatest kingdom impact and give them the keys to the building.
Colin Van der Kuur is the director of church planting for the Fellowship Pacific Region.