A Systems Approach to the Multicultural Church

I’m in class all this week in the first of two of my July intensives in the Doctor of Ministry program at Bethel Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota. I’m taking a class on understanding congregational systems that has me in deep reflection on the multicultural and reconciling church.

Most of the reading I’ve done on multicultural churches has been focused on relational issues rooted in sociology. Now, I don’t want to take away from the importance of this because understanding issues of race and culture from a sociological standpoint and how this has influenced the church is vital. It’s vital because we have to continue to wrestle with why, according to Christian Sociologist Michael Emerson, 93% of the churches in the United States of America are racially segregated. We also need to have strong theology for the multicultural church so that our case for such a Christ-centered community is based on a biblical mandate, not political correctness. So, all this to say, in making the case for the multicultural church, sociology and theology matter greatly.

What I’m having deep thoughts on this week in class though is about how you develop and sustain healthy and mission-al multicultural churches over the long haul. This is where I believe systems thinking and theory come into play. Now as I begin to work on my final project for this class things will get fleshed out more, but for now here are some thoughts. Systems thinking is about seeing the whole and dealing head-on with how ministries can become segregated and competitive. This is an issue in churches whether they’re multicultural or not. How do we realize in church that how we live and minister is directly connected to a larger reality or system?  If you are passionate about the planting, development, and sustaining of a multicultural church consider reading 1 Corinthians chapter 12. My professor (Dr. Greg Bourgond) has been guiding our class through this text. Read it and think about what ministries and systems need to be developed in order to sustain a healthy and mission-al multicultural Church. Are there ministries, leaders who need to be on a journey of reconciliation in your ministry? Your welcome to join me in the journey. Consider reading the books, Systems-Sensitive Leadership by Michael Armour and Don Browning and Management for Your Church by Alvin Lindgren and Norman Shawchuck