Being clear on your “WHY” is imperative when your vision is to cultivate a multi-ethnic ministry! For almost a decade I’ve worked with Russ Siders as his coach as he has led Sunrise Community Church, a multi-ethnic church. Today the ethnic breakdown is as follows:
- 40% Anglo
- 45% Hispanic (both English and Spanish speakers)
- 15% African American and other ethnicities
Here is what he shared about his “Why.”
…the call to foster multicultural communities is rooted in something deeper than current social trends. For me, the story of the Antioch Church in Acts 11 is instructive and inspiring. You have a community of disciples started by Greek speaking Jews, but reaching into every stratus of the society, to Jews and Gentiles, to free and slave, to those with power and those with none. And it is there, as the gospel is lived out in this context, that Acts 11:26 says the disciples were first called Christians, “little Christ-ones.” This name supposedly came from outside the movement, and while it may at first have been a pejorative term, it was, if nothing else, a recognition that something unique was happening, something that could only be accomplished by the power of Jesus, the one whom Ephesians 2 says is our peace, destroying the dividing wall of hostility.
Russ Siders – Lead Pastor, Sunrise Community Church
- I am collaborating with Russ to discuss some of his learnings from 20+ years of multi-ethnic ministry in a FaceBook LIVE event on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 @ 9am PST/noon EST. We will build on some of the information shared here. Hope you can join us!
Finally, I asked Martin Mora, who serves alongside Russ Siders as the Worship Arts Director at Sunrise Community Church in Tulare, CA – why he believes multi-ethnic ministry is vital to the work he does at Sunrise and the broader region in his denomination. Martin is an exceptional leader who seamlessly crosses cultures and has years of experience in multi-ethnic ministry. Watch and listen to Martin as he explains his “Why” – CLICK HERE.
Next week we will address the second question: How will you create a culture of diversity?
“The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”
Imagine a world that has a local church in every community where apprentices of Jesus are living out their faith in every aspect of their lives. More than ever we need the Church to be the Church! I love the following quote by Timothy Keller that encompasses the reason why InFocus exists:
New church planting is the only way that we can be sure we are going to increase the number of believers in a city and one of the best ways to renew the whole Body of Christ.
I have the absolute privilege to work with amazing leaders who are striving to make the world a better place. May this Christmas season be a reminder of the baby that was born in a manger to transform humanity. May the Prince of Peace rule our world, our communities and our hearts!
One of the best experiences of my life was our decision to move out of our apartment and into a townhouse in a multi-ethnic community in the downtown area of Phoenix, AZ. That’s our humble abode above with the arched windows on the second floor. Our neighbors were from South America, Europe and Asia. It was not the safest neighborhood but we called it home from 1996-2008. We created some amazing memories. We started our family there, we built deep relationships with our neighbors and we saw God do some pretty cool things.
We did not do this to be trendy, popular or politically correct. We lived in a multi-ethnic community for 12 years because we believed God cares for the disenfranchised!
I remember one night when an explosion rocked our townhouse, lit up the sky and rumbled through our home like an earthquake. Gina and I grabbed our two children who were fast asleep in their bedrooms in the front of the house and quickly brought them into our room until the firetrucks arrived with the other support vehicles. Apparently someone had triggered an explosion in a car that was sitting on the curb within a football field’s distance of our townhouse. Once we were safe I went out to explore the wreckage under the moon-lit sky and glow of the street-lights. Bits of metal, plastic and assorted car parts were scattered everywhere Nothing gets your attention quite like a car bomb!
We re-evaluated our purpose for moving into the community.
We assessed our motives again after a break-in and attempted rape of our neighbor at gun-point, 2 doors down to the left of our home. And again when we discovered the proliferation of sex offenders, drug activity and suspicious behavior from people we would observe as they made their way through our complex.
Despite that, we built high-trust relationships with people living on the fringes of society, one-step away from moving up in society or falling through the cracks. Fact is, most of our neighbors still live in that place.
Over the next three blogs I will do a deep dive into each of the following questions with the intent to give context to the discourse around multi-ethnic ministry. I will be the first to admit that I am not an expert. Just a person with a heart for people far from God, experience building authentic relationship with our neighbors and perhaps some lessons learned that I can pass-on.
Here are the 3 questions I will address related to multi-ethnic church planting and ministry:
- What is your “why”?
- How will you create a culture of diversity?
- What is your leadership development strategy?
I do hope you will participate in the conversation below. Let me ask you that first question another way: Why is it important to break down the walls in your community that separate you ethnically, socially and economically?
Look forward to reading your response to continue the conversation.