Multicultural Churches: A Gospel Imperative

Christians often ignore or treat as less important talks, trainings or discourses on building a multicultural Church. This resentment at times comes from the fact that people think that talks about multicultural Churches are trying to be politically correct. The question I am asking here is, is the agenda to build a multicultural congregation PC? I for one think it is not, infact the vision of a multicultural Church is very essential to the Gospel that is it is a Gospel imperative. The promise to Abraham that all nations will be blessed through him reveals that God’s plan in salvation history was to draw to himself people from every nation (Genesis 12: 1-3). Paul expounded on this theme both in the letter to the Galatians and Ephesians. In Galatians he confirmed the gentiles by affirming that God’s promise to Abraham was not only meant for the Jews but also for the gentiles. One implication is that we are all one Christ whether we are Jews nor Greeks, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28). Paul seemed to be saying that in Christ, Culture, class and gender should not divide us. He pressed this message home in Ephesians 2:11-22, when he not just talked about how Christ work on the cross reconciled us back to God (horizontal relationship with God), but that in addition, he pulled down the wall that divides us as humans (vertical relationships with our neighbours).

In the time of Paul and the other Apostles this wall would have been the various separations that happen in Herod’s temple. There is the Holy place only for the High Priest, the court of the priest for the other priests, court of Israel only for the Israelite men, court of women for Israelite women and the court of the gentiles for everyone who is not a Jew. These various separations were taken seriously so that if a gentile dare entered the court of Israel it would have been at the loss of his or her life. To illustrate this, when Paul was arrested, one of the accusations against him was that he brought Greeks into the temple area (see Acts 21:27-29). Paul’s theology was that Christ’ death brought an end to these artificial segregations. He went further to say that this is why he has been chosen by God to be an apostle to the gentiles (Ephesians 3:1-7).

God demonstrated time and time again that his Gospel brings an end to whatever divides us. In Acts of the Apostles this was done through the birth of the Church on the day of Pentecost which brought Jews in Palestine as well as Jews in Diaspora together. It was the cultural diversity of the Church in Jerusalem that led to one of the earliest tensions in the Church that emerged in Acts 6:1-7. The Holy Spirit also caused the disciples to scatter into Judea and Samaria therefore bringing the Gospel to the Samaritans whom Jews will not accept as equals (Acts 8). As if that was not enough, God had to change Peter’s mind through a vision in order for him to accept and relate with Cornelius (a gentile) and his household in Acts 10. All of these scripture demonstrates that God the creator of diversity embraces cultural diversity in a way that it should bring us together rather than separate. The implication is that whatever divides us today such as race, culture, ethnicity, class, gender, and age, should make us one new body when we are in Christ. A multicultural Church is a space where this diversity can be lived out in togetherness.

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About israelolofinjana

Rev Israel Oluwole Olofinjana is an ordained and accredited Baptist minister and has pastored Crofton Park Baptist Church (2007-2011) and Catford Community Church (2011-2013). He is currently the pastor of Woolwich Central Baptist Church, a multicultural church in south east London. He is Nigerian coming from a Pentecostal background. He holds a BA (Hons) in Religious Studies from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and MTh from Carolina University of Theology (CUT). Israel is the editor of “Turning the Tables on Mission: Stories of Christians from the Global South in the UK” and author of “Reverse in Ministry and Missions: Africans in the Dark Continent of Europe” and “20 Pentecostal Pioneers in Nigeria” He has spoken in a number of conferences regarding reverse mission and Black Majority Churches (BMCs) and has also contributed to academic journals and Christian magazines on the subject of Black Majority Churches (BMC) in Britain. He is currently co-opted as a member of the Baptist Union Council. Israel is also one of the Directors of Centre for Missionaries from the Majority World an initiative design to train and equip pastors and missionaries from the South. He is a member of the Global Connections council. When he is not preaching or writing he is playing with Lego! He is happily married to Lucy who works as an administrator and research co-ordinator for the Evangelical Alliance. She is a graduate of the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), earning a BA in Social Anthropology and International Development. Lucy loves baking and watching movies!
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