Last week I received the first box of the latest title in the Leadership Network Innovation Series, Ethnic Blends: Mixing Diversity into Your Local Church by Mark DeYmaz and Harry Li. This is Mark’s second book with Leadership Network, and I really enjoy working with him. Below, Mark and Harry share a few thoughts about the book.
We wrote the book in order to address the day to day challenges of multi-ethnic ministry. The book is for the growing numbers of pastors, church planters, and ministry leaders, indeed, entire staff teams who are seeking to promote greater ethnic/economic diversity within the local church or ministry they lead.
Where did your ideas come from?
We wrote from our own personal experiences, having served for nearly nine years together in the multi-ethnic community of faith we call Mosaic (Little Rock). In addition, we invited 14 multi-ethnic church pastors from around the country (and even Australia) to weigh-in with us through 500 word sidebars scattered throughout the book. Mark also has extensive understanding of the subject from his travel and interaction with others via the Mosaix Global Network (www.mosaix.info), a relational network catalyzing the movement toward multi-ethnic churches throughout North America and beyond.
What is new about what you have to say in Ethnic Blends?
In Mark’s first book, Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church, he establishes the Biblical mandate and seven core commitments of an effective multi-ethnic church. In Ethnic Blends, we address seven common challenges of the multi-ethnic church. In addition, we provide relevant questions for personal reflection and/or group discussion, making the book a must for entire teams desiring to grow in their understanding, and consequently dream, of a church that reflects the love of God for all people on earth as it is in heaven.
The book also provides great insight on just where the multi-ethnic church movement is and where it is likely headed in the years ahead, with validation from the latest research of Dr. Michael Emerson, perhaps the most prominent sociologists on the subject today. Charts and graphs make complex truths more readily understandable and have been designed for use by those who would teach others also.
Tell us about one idea from Ethnic Blends.
Intentionality is both an attitude and an action when it comes to mixing diversity into your otherwise healthy, homogeneous context. Yes, intentionality must permeate and inform every corridor of a multi-ethnic church. For instance, I have no doubt that people mean well when they say that they would gladly welcome others of varying ethnic or economic backgrounds to come be a part of “their” church. However, in practice, what they really mean is “… as long as ‘they’ like things the way we do them.” Therefore, you should recognize that a healthy multi-ethnic church is not established by assimilation but rather by accommodation.
Notice the subtle difference in terminology. The word, “assimilate” means “to integrate somebody into a larger group so that differences are minimized or eliminated.” Yet the word, “accommodate” means “to adjust actions in response to somebody’s needs.” In other words, you must not ask or expect diverse others to “check their culture at the door” in order to become part of “your” church. Rather, it is the responsibility of those in the majority to adjust themselves intentionally, their own attitudes and actions, in order to enfold diverse others into the life of the church.
What do you hope readers take away from Ethnic Blends?
From the introduction and validating statistics, we hope readers will recognize that the coming integration of the local church is not only an undeniable reality, but it is critical to the advance of the gospel in the 21st century. For in an increasingly diverse and cynical society, people will no longer find credible the message of God’s love for all people when it’s preached from segregated churches.
At the heart level we hope to ignite a passion in, and to equip readers, for leading their churches or ministries in becoming more reflective of Christ’s love for all people beyond mere words, i.e., to establish communities of faith in which men and women of varying ethnic and economic backgrounds walk, work and worship God together as one for the sake of the gospel. What readers will come to recognize is that in a healthy multi-ethnic church, a missional mindset (i.e., living “on mission”) is not programmatic; rather, it is a reflection of the very church itself, who we are. We aren’t just building bridges to the community, we are the community and consequently, a credible witness of faith, hope and love for hurting people from all walks of life in need of spiritual, social and financial freedom in Christ.
What can we look for next?
We’re anticipating growing involvement of church planting networks and denominations with the Mosaix Global Network in seeking to diversify their own organizations, church planting teams and new church starts. Membership in Mosaix is already on the rise with its relaunch scheduled for April 2010 at Exponential. This will include relational networking, substantial benefits and resourcing for those in pursuit of ethnic blends. In addition, don’t miss the nation’s first, truly Multi-ethnic Church Conference, hosted by National Outreach Convention and Outreach Magazine, Inc., coming to San Diego, November 2-3, 2010. Go to www.mosaix.info for complete conference info, registration and sponsorship opportunities.
Stephanie Plagens is the Publications Manager for Leadership Network.