The days of the neighbourhood dropping in for Church just because it’s Christmas are over. Here’s how your church can move into the neighbourhood instead.
For centuries, the Advent/Christmas seasons have been a time for folks to automatically come into Church, perhaps for the only time in a year. However, in this post-Christendom, and some would argue post-Christian age, all bets are off. The days of expectation that people will naturally come into events in our churches simply because it is Christmas, are rapidly dwindling. This is not an urban, suburban, or rural issue. This is not a church size or denominational issue. This is the new normal of every local church in our increasingly secularized age.
It is not a time for despair. In fact, it is an exciting season of opportunity and hope for those in Christian leadership who are willing to fully engage the challenges of our day. In Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of the magisterial Prologue in John’s gospel that is read every Christmas, we get a glimpse into the missional heart of the Incarnation:
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, generous inside and out, true from start to finish. (Jn. 1:14, The Message by Eugene Peterson)
God moves into our neighbourhood. We have an opportunity to step back and re-think all we intend, practice and believe about our engagement with Advent/Christmas and with our culture. In whatever way your Church makes decisions, I am going to suggest that we gather, and consider six fundamentals of Advent/Christmas planning, before we look at some practical applications.
Ditch the complaining about the hyper-consumerism of our culture or the lack of religious practice in our society. We follow the One who not only is the Word made flesh, but also the One who breaks the back of death, evil and our sin by his atoning work on the Cross. Our world needs the good news of the Gospel as we share our hope that is grounded in the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ — the Gospel imperative.
Who needs to be part of this conversation? How can the conversation be expanded to include those not typically in the decision-making process? Engage those who only come at Christmas. Talk to those in your community who do not attend at all. Ask your youth and young adults about their expectations and experiences of what the Church can be and do at Christmastide.
Consider every aspect of your Advent and Christmas practices. Ask yourself the simple but exceptionally difficult question—why? Why do we do what we do during Advent and Christmas? Are these events aligned with the gospel imperatives of the Incarnation?
Consider what it will mean to engage your community this Christmas, versus expecting your community to engage your church events.
Think through when your Advent and Christmas events are held. Are attendance patterns changing? Do we need to change our event times to engage more people more effectively?
Where is the best expression of the Advent and Christmas season? Would it be more beneficial to change locales, to actually ‘move into the neighbourhood’ instead of offering events at our local church building?
These six elements of re-thinking and re-framing our understanding and practices of Advent/Christmas in our churches is the hard work of Christian leadership. You will find very quickly that “Good ideas are not adopted automatically. They must be driven into practice with courageous patience.” (Hyman Rickover)
Historic methodologies and practices feel good to us, but do they connect the Gospel and our culture? If we have done our homework, and prayerfully thought through these six fundamentals, then we might be surprised by the need for the church’s historic gospel tradition, versus our own local traditionalism. In the context of your local community, remember theologian Jaroslav Pelikan’s famous dictum: “Traditionalism is the dead religion of the living. Tradition is the living religion of the dead.”
At St. Paul’s, as we have sought to consider these Advent/Christmas planning fundamentals, we have discovered some simple and effective things to engage and connect with the communities we serve. We are a work in progress, always trying to pray and think through what, why and how we are doing and being the Church.
Here are some things to think about for the Advent/Christmas seasons:
Advertise early and widely with the message that you want to engage with your community, not simply get them into church at this time of year.
Use social media to get the message out. Even if you have no experience or are personally wary – seek out those who regularly use Facebook or Twitter and learn. The cost of your usual advertising -—newspaper, flyers etc. – is increasing while their effectiveness is diminishing.
Undertake a prayer ministry to pray for your visitors, for your events, for gospel proclamation.
Ensure one clear theme in the music, preaching, and prayers so that your message is coherent, concise and consistent.
Through the Advent/Christmas seasons, place the incarnation in the context of the whole of salvation history. For example, a traditional Lessons and Carols service embodies the great sweep of Creation, Rebellion, Israel, Jesus, Still Being Written and The End.
In preaching, beware of the urge to bury people in scriptural volume. Do not overestimate the biblical literacy of our culture or our church communities. Just because you know the implications of the incarnation, do not assume everyone does.
Beware of the urge to find new meaning in the old text. Allow the Gospel and the text to shape your preaching.
But do preach! Please do not offer a Christmas devotional or read someone else’ thoughts. This is a prime opportunity for you to connect the biblical story with your community in an authentic and meaningful way.
Offer an evangelistic, relationship-based program that people can sign up for immediately, on the spot that will begin right after Christmas. Use Alpha or Christianity Explored. We use Christianity 101 (C101), which for us starts first thing in the New Year.
Put your best foot forward with preaching, liturgy, music, and hospitality. Think of the famous title of Oswald Chamber’s daily devotional book—My Utmost for His Highest. To offer your best to the Lord Jesus is to do just that, offer your best. Whether we like it or not, people are used to high quality production values and they expect your practice to be aligned with our message that the Gospel is the most important good news in the world.
Consider giving your visitors a small and inexpensive gift that explains Christmas, such as Nicky Gumbel’s “Why Christmas?”
Work to reframe your understanding of Advent as much more than a liturgical season. Be a community that truly seeks to reshape yourselves and society’s worldview from one of consumption to one of compassion. The Advent Conspiracy (adventconspiracy.org) is a brilliant resource to highlight, particularly at this time of year, that you are blessed solely to be a blessing to others.
Offer opportunities to serve at Christmastide. Perhaps you might offer a Christmas dinner to those who are alone at this time of year. You might encourage everyone in your church to offer one hour to your local food bank or one hour to visit a nursing home. Even the smallest churches will have an impact. To engage your community means to serve your community in some capacity, particularly at this time of year.
Throw a party. If you have a children’s or family service, build a festive venue with cupcakes and balloons. Visitors and their children relate to a birthday party for Jesus. For your Christmas services, provide opportunities to build relationships (not just a coffee hour), where your faith community can genuinely engage the community by not only serving, but also simply having fun.
We live in a changing world and this time of year can be a season of challenge and over-extension. With Advent and Christmas—we have been given an opportunity to connect with our world. As Christopher Wright wrote in The Mission of God:
It is not so much the case that God has a mission for his church in the world, as that God has a church for his mission in the world. Mission was not made for the church; the church was made for mission—God’s mission.
As church, we are made for such a time as this. We are made for God’s mission, which is to proclaim in word and deed the reality that “the Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.
Barry Parker is rector of St.Paul’s Anglican Church, Bloor St., Toronto. Check out their website —and how St.Paul’s is presenting Christmas to their community— at www.stpaulsbloor.org
Years ago, my best friend Janet and I travelled from Halifax to Vancouver and back again on a student Via-Rail pass. For 21 days we sat, slept and snickered in coach seats, eating peanut butter sandwiches and once an entire cream pie. We giggled through northern Ontario and cackled through the prairies, until, to our utter bewilderment, someone finally snapped.
Our fellow passenger shouted “Would you please stop that incessant giggling!” The rest of the car applauded. They weren’t clapping for us. Amazingly, they were clapping for the man who told us to shut up.
We were stunned to discover not everyone — not anyone, actually — thought we were the cat’s meow. And that’s how the church is to some people, in some neighbourhoods. The church has become irrelevant, and maybe even annoying!
This past year, I had the privilege to interview and write the stories of 13 Canadian churches — of various sizes, shapes and denominations — across Canada who have decided to get relevant, big-time. Going Missional: Conversations with 13 Canadian Churches who Have Embraced Missional Life is the book, borne of that research and co-written with Willard Metzger, then World Vision Canada’s director of church relations.
All across Canada, there are churches embracing missional life. They are moving out of their comfort zones into a more intentional local engagement and serving their own communities in remarkably creative ways — not to grow their churches — but to grow their obedience to Jesus’ teachings to deeply love the people and places that surround us. And they are doing it in partnership with all kinds of people and community groups already active in their midst.
Partnerships was a huge part of many of the missional adventures I learned about. Ask, then listen, advised Judy Paulsen of Christ Church, Oshawa, an Anglican congregation profiled in the book. Going out to meet with community groups, asking how the church can serve them, then coming up with creative partnering possibilities is a staple of the missional life.
I shared this idea of partnerships with people in the community, who weren’t necessarily the least bit churchy at all, with our own church’s Mission and Outreach group. Inspired, we formed a team to go visit the local schools and offer our church’s assistance for students in need. The result, after months of talking and re-visiting, is a bursary for social action at the high school, and a sizable donation to another school to build up their literacy program.
We feel certain we are on the right and very new track.
This immediate application of what I was learning happened again and again during the writing of Going Missional. Because our own congregation of the Ascension in Port Perry is well on its way to a renewed incarnation in our community, we were able to apply some of the missional lessons right away, which is the very point of the book.
We fellow travellers on the missional road – and many would argue there is no other road — can learn so much from each other. Simple things like dialoguing with the community to find out how we can help — and not presuming to already know. Realizing that God is already at work in Port Perry and elsewhere, whether we are a part of it yet or not. And knowing that simply being a friend can be the greatest witness to Christ’s love. One church I spoke to built a homeless shelter right down the hall from their sanctuary; another offers fixed-up cars to the poor in their community, yet another asked surprised parishioners to donate their coats and boots (on a cold Saskatoon Sunday) to a homeless shelter downtown. A west-coast church volunteered in droves for an Aboriginal Olympics taking part in their hometown, and did more to build bridges in two weeks than in the decades previously.
I ended this project feeling like it was a good time to be a Christ-follower in Canada — and in my very own community. For the first time in a long time, I am excited about what is to come.
Going Even More Missional
I interviewed 46 people, from 13 diverse church communities from coast to coast, for Going Missional. Here are some more ways these congregations are living out Christ’s call in their communities.
1. Work with other churches: In almost every case, churches who are deeply engaged in their communities are open to collaboration with other — often very different — congregations.
2. Be prepared to help when the community needs you. A large Montreal congregation founds its missional feet during the ice storms of 1998. Their sanctuary became a shelter, and their reputation as a church the community can trust grew exponentially.
3. Know your community. The churches in the book spent time asking questions, hearing from community groups and even just travelling on city buses to hear and absorb what the needs of their communities really were.
4. Encourage lay people. Often, the best ideas for missional outreach come from parishioners who want to share their passion and their gifts. Sometimes, clergy are most effective as cheer leaders.
5. Move from writing cheques to being present. The churches in the book, especially Christ Church, Oshawa, have intentionally moved from mostly financially supporting needs in their communities to actually rolling up their sleeves and getting to work. Parishioners love the switch.
6. Preach and teach boldly. One church in Winnipeg tells members that if they aren’t willing to get to work in the community then they are just taking up a chair someone else could use. Ministry opportunities are presented on their website like job descriptions and everyone has a chance to participate.
7. Open your doors — for free. A large Saint John congregation opens its building (rent-free) for community meetings and events and has gained a reputation, starting with that simple act, as being on the side of the city.
8. Train people how to serve. A St. Catharine’s congregation that houses a homeless shelter makes sure its volunteers are well-trained and comfortable. They present varied “on-ramps” for engaging parishioners in missional activities.
9. Invite the community in — even on Sundays. A church in Duncan, B.C. invites community leaders to join them for a Sunday service and share what they do for their town, then the church offers to pray for their work, right there and then.
10. Do your programs well. A Saskatoon church took a load of their “Sunday best” clothing, in new boxes, to a homeless shelter and the shelter staff were moved to tears. Another church-run homeless shelter washes their visitors’ clothes and offers them fresh pyjamas to sleep in. Offer the world your best.
Going Missional: Conversations with 13 Canadian Churches who Have Embraced Missional Life is available through The Leadership Centre, Willow Creek Canada, at www.growingleadership.com
Imagine yourself a cloned child created from the DNA of a wealthy person who wants to have your organs available for transplant, when he later needs them. The only life you know as a child is as one of a large number of other clones who are kept in the setting of an isolated English boarding school, Hailsham, where none of you has any contact with the outside world. Initially, you have no idea of your intended destiny, as an organ donor.
At age 18, you leave Hailsham for other supervised accommodation, where you will live until you become an organ “donor,” usually in a sequence of “retrieval operations,” finally being killed when an unpaired vital organ is taken.
In the film of Kazuo Ishiguro’s book, Never Let Me Go, which is playing in Canada, we watch this dystopic and unethical example of a rapidly developing field called “regenerative medicine” (which, used ethically, offers great hope), being played out against a tragic love story that involves three of these young people. Through this love story, we understand how fully human they are, in contrast to the immense dehumanization to which they are subjected.
Reviewers have commented that the film is unusual in being a science-fiction story set in the past, the 1950s and ’60s. But what makes it so spine-chilling is that we come to realize that our present world is the future Ishiguro describes. Many scenarios it portrays, such as organ transplantation, and genetic and reproductive technologies, which were unknown in the ’50s and ’60s, are now science-fact. The film delivers a powerful message that we need to become much more sensitive than we currently are to the ethics issues 21st-century technoscience raises.
Here are some of the lessons we can take from it.
The cloned children are regarded by the people who run their school as repositories of organs rather than as individual persons, as objects, not human subjects. This dehumanization is inflicted both through the way in which the children are treated and language.
They are constantly monitored with electronic bracelets, like animals are with computer chips. One supervisor, obviously meaning to be empathetic, remarks, “you poor creatures.” Creatures is a word we use to refer to animals, usually when we are differentiating them from humans. And someone queries whether they have a soul. What is clear is that in dehumanizing the children, these people dehumanize themselves more.
A major current example of dehumanization through language involves human embryos and fetuses. Human embryo research is justified by describing the embryos as “just a bunch of cells” and, in abortion, fetuses are characterized as “just unwanted tissue, part of the woman’s body, not a child.”
The physicians and nurses responsible for keeping the children healthy, so later their organs can be used, also dehumanize them. In medically examining them, they act as though they are mechanics making sure a car is in good running order, not health-care professionals caring for patients. Most horrific in this regard, is the scene showing surgeons undertaking a vital-organ-retrieval-operation that kills the “donor.” They carefully take the organ, then instantly “pull the plug” on both the life support technology and any engagement with the “patient,” simply walking out leaving the dead body on the operating table, bleeding, not even bothering to suture the wound. Even in death the person is not respected as human.
Who were these physicians and nurses? How could they be in involved in such evil, such appalling violation of medical ethics? That same question has often been asked by scholars in relation to the Nazi doctors in the death camps. Are comparable unethical operations taking place in some countries today, for instance, using prisoners as “donors”? Might some Canadians be recipients of these organs?
How could society allow this to happen? Why wasn’t it prohibited and severely punished? Or was society complicit in the evil by funding the technoscience that made it possible, without ensuring that technoscience was used only ethically?
Who were the scientists who made the clones and what ethical requirements should have governed them?
And where were society’s watchdogs, the medical and scientific bodies responsible for ensuring ethics in the professions? Or was it a situation where the legislated safeguards were inoperative.
It’s clear in the book that “farming” these children is a lucrative commercial industry. This brings to mind the “fertility industry” that markets assisted reproductive technologies, bringing in $3.3 billion annually, in the United States alone. It’s an area that needs very close ethical supervision, yet it’s common to hear it referred to as the “Wild West of human reproduction.” Note also the unethical international organ transplant industry that the recent Declaration of Istanbul seeks to eliminate.
Another warning comes from the intentional use of euphemistic or obfuscating language by those involved in the “cloning-transplant project.” Euphemisms can skew our perceptions about ethics, probably by suppressing moral intuitions that clear language would elicit and which would function as ethical red alerts.
The person cloned, is referred to simply as the clone’s “original.” The clones go looking for their “originals.” They describe sighting a person, who might be such, as seeing a “possible.” Especially in the book, Ishiguro captures, exactly as I’ve personally heard donor-conceived people express it, their anguish at not knowing, but longing to know, their biological antecedents.
The word “kill” is never used and even the word “death” is avoided, as is often true of pro-euthanasia advocates. Rather, the final fatal surgery is referred to as a “completion.” A nurse remarks that “some donors look forward to completion,” which is not surprising seeing the immensely debilitated state of the young people, who have already made multiple donations. Towards the end of the film, the former headmistress of Hailsham, now retired and in a wheelchair, remarks, philosophically, “that we all have to complete sometime.” That’s true, but how we “complete” is the critical ethical issue, as we can see in the present euthanasia debate.
That brings us to convergence, which refers to interventions that become possible only through the combination of separate technologies. Never Let Me Go is a story of the convergence of genetic and reproductive technologies — cloning, in vitro fertilization and surrogate motherhood — and organ transplant technologies.
Each technology, taken alone, raises serious ethical issues, but combined they raise ethical issues of a different order, as we see in Never Let Me Go. And such issues might be closer to us, than most of us realize.
Is it ethical for people who are euthanized, in countries where this is legal, to become organ donors? There have been recent reports of this at transplantation conferences and in the medical literature.
And here’s another presently possible scenario of convergence, the only element of which is illegal in Canada would be cloning the embryo, which advocates of human embryo research have argued should be allowed for “therapeutic purposes”: Create an in vitro embryo and take one cell, when all cells are still totipotential (can form another embryo) to make a second embryo. Transfer the first embryo to a woman’s uterus and freeze the second embryo. When, as a born child or adult, the first embryo needs an organ transplant, transfer the second embryo to a surrogate mother, abort the fetus at a late stage and use its organs.
Finally, a statement from the wheel-chair-bound ex-head mistress of Hailsham merits noting with respect to the philosophy and values on which we should base our ethics. It shows her exclusively rational approach to the horror of what she helped to inflict on the children in her charge.
Two of them, who are now adults and in love, come to her seeking a deferral of the “completion” organ retrieval surgery on the young man, so they can have some time together before he is killed. She tells them that is not possible and enquires, rhetorically, “Would you ask people to return to lung cancer, heart failure and other terrible diseases?”
Never Let Me Go is a searing lesson about the “ethics outcomes” that can result from pure utilitarianism and moral relativism, when they are used to govern the new technoscience by people without a moral conscience or moral intuition.
Margaret Somerville DCL, LL.D, is the founding director of the Centre for Medicine, Ethics and Law at McGill University.
Printed with permission of the author.
This article was first published in the Ottawa Citizen
If you were to hang out at a Christian bookstore at the edge of many Canadian cities, you might be surprised to see who is there. Ditto if you drive past a packed church parking lot any day of the week, or a bustle of people leaving a newly planted church in an industrial area, commercial space, or home. If you overhear someone speaking openly about faith in Jesus, or offering to pray with another in a public place, there is an excellent chance that the faces you see did not grow up in western Christendom—and those voices carry the cadence of exotic locales, most originating in the Two Thirds World.
Canada is a significant destination for Diaspora Christians around the world, some fleeing persecution, others poverty and war, and some are on the move (I think) because they’ve been called by Christ to missionize the western world—like the Filipino church planter I met in North York who planted an intercultural church in Mississauga which then birthed another congregation in Etobicoke even before the Mississauga church secured their first pastor.
They are not reticent about their faith. Like the Christians of the early Roman Empire serving the established classes, I am hearing anecdotal evidence of children demanding to go church because their nannies have told them about Jesus, personal caregivers leading seniors to faith in Christ, receptionists praying with clients in the waiting room, and other professionals I dare not name in print lest we jeopardize their timely unawareness of the need to compartmentalize faith so it cannot seep into the workplace.
Twenty years ago, I thought God had brought us the nations of the world so we could share Christ. Now I think I had it backward. We are the ones who need to learn that faith is no less a passion than World Cup Football, and spiritual conversations are as natural as discussing the weather. We are the ones who need to forget that our brand of Christianity had its capital in Europe—perhaps temporarily—and remember that the Church has always been the world’s most truly multi-national, multi-ethnic, inter-cultural corporations. We are the ones who must adjust to the new reality beyond our cultural borders where it is more normal to purchase a theatre to turn it into a place of worship than to sell a church and turn it into condominiums—and that others are doing just that in our midst.
Soong-Chan Rah, a 1.5 generation Korean-American scholar in Chicago has it right when he says that the real wave of transformation in the North American church will not be ushered in by hip young white guys with goatees and book contracts with the Christian media juggernaut, but by intercultural ministries. First generation immigrants often arrive with a vibrant faith, but with too many cultural barriers to communicate easily into other people groups. Their children, however, who arrive as young people but grow up with vibrant faith and a Canadian education and accent—these 1.5 generation immigrants are shaping up as a formidable force on the Canadian landscape.
Five years ago, I thought that perhaps 50% of church goers in the Greater Toronto area on any given Sunday morning were in black majority or immigrant churches. No one knows how many unregistered churches there are, but I suspect the percentage of worshippers is much higher today.
Wednesday’s last plenary was a mixture of these three speakers, each answering the question, “What does it take to transform a community?”
Brenda Salter McNeil is a well known speaker who focused on racial reconciliation using Acts 1:8. She described reconciliation in “Samaria”, when people are so different they say “God ought to do something about ‘those people’” can follw this cycle:
Two other lines: Church as a “radical third culture people that create a whole new reality”and, “when we engage difference, the differences we engage transform us.”
Shane Claiborne is a well known author and founder of the “Simple Way” community in Philadephia. Transformation is:
- more than a doctrinal statement
- we need a rule of life, too.
- more than ideologies
- Ideologies don’t demand much of us, but our practices do.
- more than good vision
- Everybody here wants a revolution but no one wants to do the dishes
- takes a neighbourhood
- takes imagination
- One of my greatest temptations is to be a church planter
Our community doesn’t need more churches we need a church
- The mega-church is so 1980’s
- We can’t tell a kid to stop selling heroin if we don’t have another way to feed him
- re: Palm Sunday – “We’re just the asses that get to bring Jesus in.”
Dave Gibbons is lead pastor of Newsong, an international multi-campus church.
- Everything has changed
- I know when I was a kid, I got saved 100 times and they still counted me every time
- Maybe our metrics should be to have no foster kids in any city where Christians live.
- Don’t join a movement (he warned that the megachurch movement became the multi-campus movement and became the organic movement, then the missional movement) but instead join the movement of God.
- Walk the streets, the streets will speak to you.
This was a plenary session packed with speakers!
The first was Reggie McNeal, of the Leadership Network. He described the Missional Church this way:
- The people of God (we are not planting an “it” but a “who”)
- partnering with Him
- in his redemptive mission
- in the world
Some soundbites from Reggie. I didn’t find he had much of value to say – mostly preaching to the choir in a humorous, but overly dramatic performance:
- Jesus didn’t say “I’ve come to give you church that you might have it abundantly”
- The point is they’re not coming!
- re: Build it and they will come – “When are we going to get over it?”
- Be the church where we’re already assigned
- Churches are like airports, they are not designed to be the destination
- Is the city better of because we’re here?
- “We had a good Sunday” – so what? Is the quality of life better in our community?
- Why does any kid leave school reading at a grade 4 level when our churches are full of people who can?”
- Get off your donkey and do something
- We are here for life
The second part was an interview of Alan Hirsch and Ed Stetzer. Hirsch is the founder of the Forge Missional Training network, and Stetzer is a well known writer and analyst of church life in America. Stetzer mostly spoke about metrics beyond “nickels, noses and numbers” suggesting we measure metrics like how many friends people have outside the church, and whether leaders are modelling what they teach. Hirsch spoke a great deal about risk, including these soundbites
- We have domesticated life and the idea of God
- I can’t find one book on the theology of adventure or risk as it pertains to God. This affects us, makes us risk averse and safety obsessed.
- Jesus is wild and uncontrollable.
- Church should be like Jesus, and if not, something is fundamentally wrong: unchristlike, boring, insecure, and fearful of one another.
- Leaders must model risktaking.
The third part was Efrem Smith, who I described in an earlier post as the planter of a multi-ethnic church in Minnesota. He was a very different speaker in plenary, he was clearly in “preaching mode” and drawing on his theatre background in what made for a very energetic sermon. I appreciated a few things he said, but found he took a few exegetical liberties that left me looking for substance beneath the energy and hype. Some of his soundbites from this talk:
- God desires to advance his Kingdom through our transformed and transforming lives and churches.
- Church Planters are bridesmaids for Christ & his church.
- Kingdom Urgency: Alert, Aware, Heart Open
- The day Jesus came, the NASDAQ of heaven went crazy. God gave us Kingdom capital.
- Be a Star Trek church planter, go where no man has gone before.
My first workshop of the day was with Efrem Smith, who planted Sanctuary Covenant Church, a multi-ethnic church plant in Minneapolis. He started with a core group of 22, that grew to 80 before launch day.
- A core team is vital to multi-ethnic planting.
- It should equip and empower people serving with you around something that’s very important.
- Can’t separate being a multi-ethnic church from being compassionate.
- His dream was, God willing, a multi-ethnic church of 1000+ impacting the city. Someone said, if you see 1000, you’d better get out of the city, because suburban middle class people will not go into the city. Efrem’s church proves otherwise, that it is possible to be Christ centered, multiethnic, in the heart of the city with all its challenges, and see the Kingdom of God advance.
- Pour some principles and practical theology into core team.
- Kingdom labourers
- Three texts:
- Acts 2
- Matt 9
- 1 Cor 12
- Their core group’s worship = potluck meal, one or two songs, low key, sat on stool with music stand as people sat around tables taking notes, bible studies.
- Pour in the core values
- Evangelism & Outreach
- Experience of Worship
- If I say my church is multi-ethnic, it can’t be all black
- Develop a group embodying these values
- How do you create an ethos, values, culture amongst your core team, so they practice amongst each other, what you want them to carry to the surrounding community?
- Recent college grads are looking for a post-black, post-white, post-brown church.
- They’re confused if we’re preaching making disciples of all nations but the church doesn’t live that.
- As we digest one another’s foods, we must be willing to digest one another’s stories.
- You want to weed out the people who are just there for the next cool church
- We weren’t going to try and do all kinds of music to reach all cultures.
- The core group was moving from being multi-ethnic to reconciled when they:
- Started forming their own small groups
- Started having dinner together
- Moved beyond hyper-sensitivity to racial issues
- It’s best when people serve not where they want to serve but where they’re wired to serve
- We are all here to serve.