Monday, March 12, 2007

An Introduction

Motivated by powerful thoughts on the blogs of friends and observing the encouragement these thoughts have given to others, I decided that the time has come to add the blogging tool to my ministry tool chest. A major question among others that lingers in my mind that I will attempt to address in this forum was well-expressed by Rodney King’s desperate cry in the aftermath of the Los Angeles Riots – “Can’t we all just get along?” My perspective in addressing this and other issues is a particular one: I am a born-again Christian who has found himself facing issues of race, identity and community by virtue of my multicultural upbringing as an Army Brat and my cross-cultural marriage – I am African- American and my wife is a first generation Filipina immigrant. Furthermore as a vocational Christian worker, specifically an evangelical church planter who serves in a number of cultural settings, I have usually found myself in conflict with a ministry strategy that has produced some of the most successful churches in recent history. 20 years ago, when I was in Seminary completing my Masters of Divinity degree , Church growth experts pushed the principal that churches grow best when they do not cross racial, cultural and socio-economic barriers. This strategy became known as the Homogeneous Unit Principle. Many organizations still use this strategy as the foundation of their missions efforts. Though it may be true that churches grow faster and larger with such a focus, the New Testament calls Christians to intentionally cross barriers to share the Good News about Christ and to come together in unity to demonstrate the unifying power of the Gospel and the truthfulness of its message. Dr. Martin Luther King’s dream wasn’t just that all ethnicities would excel and prosper, but that they would do so arm in arm with others ethnically and culturally different from themselves while united in their loving commitment to the service of others. This dream is particularly important to the evangelical household of faith. Fortunately, the emergence of the “Tiger Woods Generation” is forcing many of the ministries built on this principle to reevaluate their ministry approaches. It is my passionate desire to help fellow believers in Jesus Christ to “Get Along” in order to advance the Gospel message in a way that truly demonstrates the power of God to bridge divides and to unite people who have a history of hostility towards each other. I hope you will find my observations helpful and that my thoughts might motivate you to take steps to break through a few barriers in your own life. In the face of competing and sometimes hostile value systems the importance of this task for those of us who are Born-Again is summed up in the words of Benjamin Franklin as he expressed the urgency of unity in the war for American Independence:

“If we do not hang together, we will all surely hang separately.”

Let’s “hang together” and learn from each other that we might truly show our Christian identity in our love for one another. Until next time,


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hermano, I wish you well with this tool of ministry. Like you, growing up outside of the United States I learned at an early age (about12 or 13) that all mankind have the same basic needs and desires. These things do not segregate themselves, or confine themselves to one race of people. We all have the need for shelter, food, clothing. We all need to have a sense of self worth, a sense of well being, to be loved and to love in return. Heavy stuff for a young child. Can we all just get along? Yes we can, if we all remember that we all are the same inside and have the same needs wants and desires.