The Common Good

Pastors: God Calls us to Cross-Cultural Ministry

As we continue to live within the ever-increasing multi-ethnic and multicultural reality, it is more and more obvious that the "black and white" matrix of the American Christian church is outdated. It seems that regardless of the racial and class constructs that exist within our nation and world, God is determined to fulfill the great commission (Matthew 28).

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If there was ever a time for pastoral leadership with the ability to lead Christ-centered and multicultural communities, now is the time. The reason I say Christ-centered is because leading a multicultural congregation should not compromise biblical truth. Some churches in the United States of America and beyond have sacrificed biblical truth for the sake of becoming multicultural. This Christ-centeredness and belief in the authority and centrality of scripture ought to lead us to proclaiming truth, righteousness, evangelism, discipleship, and kingdom justice. A true commitment to Christ-centeredness in no way compromises the commitment to biblical truth, because the word of God is the beginning point for understanding the nature, words, and works of Christ. This ought to be the on-ramp to the next area, which is cross-cultural leadership.

The ministry of Jesus was very cross-cultural in nature. His ministry included the tax collector, the Samaritan, the Canaanite, women, the poor, and those of privilege. Jesus himself walked the earth as both God (John 1) and a multicultural Jew (Matthew 1). His ministry was cross-cultural, and he was cross-cultural. Through the Holy Spirit, Christ lives within us as Christian pastors and lay leaders. This reality is the on-ramp for our understanding that God desires to equip and empower us to minister in the multicultural reality in which we live daily.

Cross-cultural leadership takes being willing to be informed and mentored by diverse, Christian leaders. If you're European-American and evangelical for instance, it's not enough to just have C.S. Lewis, John Piper, N.T. Wright, John Calvin, and Rick Warren on your book shelf. You also need Vashti McKenzie, Soon-Chan Rah, Francis Chan, Howard Thurman, John Perkins, and Anne Wimbley on your shelf as well. You also must allow God to lead you into deep, authentic cross-cultural friendships. God desires to raise up Christ-centered, cross-cultural, post-black, and post-white leaders.

Efrem Smith is the senior pastor of The Sanctuary Covenant Church, with the vision to be an urban, multi-ethnic, relevant, holistic, and Christ-centered community. He has held leadership positions in organizations such as the Boys and Girls Club of America and Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and is the author of numerous articles and books, including The Hip-Hop Church.

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