On today’s Whiteboard Wednesday, teacher, writer and minister Agshin Jafarov speaks about how scripture informs planting multi-ethnic churches. For a more detailed post on this subject, go to Agshin’s blog at http://www.biblicaltransformations.com
When multi-ethnic churches are planted, certain principles can be followed that come from scripture.
The first principle is the centrality of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the unifying principle and through him, he will transcend all of our differences. In Galatians:3:28, the Apostle Paul teaches that there is “neither Jew nor Gentile,” for in Jesus Christ we are one, and we are unified in Christ.
The second principle relates to discerning cultural practices, and is informed by Galatians 2:11-13. Here, the Apostle Paul stands and opposes Peter because Peter had separated himself from Greek believers in order to follow purity laws. When certain people came from Jerusalem, Paul disowned their cultural practice, deeming it unfit for Christians. It is important to remember that Jesus Christ, in calling us to follow Him as Lord, calls us to accept cultural differences.
The third principle is the sharing of cultural practices in church, allowing parishioners to find positive, important elements of their culture to share and help build connections with one another. This principle is highlighted in Acts 2:1-8. On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit came upon Jesus’ followers and they started to speak in languages not native to them. This illustrates that diversity in languages and cultures not only don’t prevent sharing the gospel, but can enhance sharing the gospel. Being able to incorporate these aspects and not exclude them is a great tool for reaching out to the community to share the truth of Jesus Christ.
Finally, the fourth principle is to work alongside parishioners to reach others from different cultural backgrounds. This principle is seen in Acts 8:26-38, when Philip goes out of his way to share the good news of Jesus Christ with an Ethiopian eunuch. By doing so, the eunuch can then return home to share the good news of the gospel with his people. This account shows that the church will have to work with believers who are native to the local culture that they are trying to reach, and in doing so will help the church gain credibility in the eyes of the people, as well as helping the church to learn the local culture and gain more insight in order to more effectively reach the community.
Following these principles will not only help churches to understand the gospel in a more enlightened way, but will provide the tools to plant multi-ethnic churches that will reach the masses.