My home church in America, Bethel-Brentwood, is about 45% African-American, about 45% white and about 10% Latino and Asian.
It did not get that way by accident – but by combination of divine call and deliberate leadership decisions.
Bethel is a big church, but if we decided to be a black church or a white church or a Latino church, we would probably be a bigger church. But we would not be what God wants us to be. We will get bigger, but we’ll do it the slow way, by keeping diversity and discipleship as non-negotiable principles.
Here’s how one Bethel pastor explained Bethel’s multi-ethnic mix to a university student who was doing a research paper on race relations and religion:
• Bethel rejects the concept of “race” as presented by Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life.
• Bethel embraces God’s classification of humanity as expressed in Acts 17:26.
(“From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.”)
• Bethel is intentional about diversity on its pastoral team, staff, pulpit and worship team.
• Bethel celebrates different cultures and ethnic diversity.
Doing church with deliberate diversity might be the slow way, but for us in the Every Nation world, it is the only way. I love the way God has called us to do church, by reaching “every nation, every tribe, every language” and every generation!
*** New post on the “accidential missionary” site: Urgent Prayer Request from Friends in India