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Cracker:
How multi-cultural is the 
postmodern church? Really.

March 2001

February 2001

January 2001



 

By David Hopkins, contributing editor
Visit my website <http://monkhouse.org/david>
I’ve heard a lot of hopeful white people talk about how the postmodern transition will open the door to a new multi-cultural and multi-voiced approach to ministry. Our churches would integrate and accept people from all backgrounds and cultures. Since postmodernism attempts to breakdown single authoritarian voice, the churches in a postmodern culture would reflect the diversity of the world we live in.

I’m still waiting.

When I attend these “postmodern” conferences, when I visit the churches, I still see a church that looks like the modern one before. It still looks like ME, hardly diverse. The church discussion on postmodernism appears to be predominantly centered on the Anglo-American perspective. I have yet to see much integration.

Possibly, the reason is we have subtly limited the postmodern discussion to the concerns of a white America. Our so-called religious experts all respond to the needs of a white world. And so, our church demographic still reflects this consumer mindset. We market to Anglo needs. We get Anglos. Our leadership must be multi-ethnic, if we hope to have a multi-ethnic representation of the Body of Christ at worship. We must be intentional about integration or shut up. This integration requires sacrifice.

Would you be willing to give up your trendy acoustic praise songs, if it marginalized the listening preference of another ethnicity? Would you change your “style” to accommodate the culture of another? Would you take your entire church membership and merge with another congregation (pre-dominantly of another ethnic group) in order to honor the diversity and unity of our Triune God? Would you do it even if it made you uncomfortable or if your attendance went down? We are not willing to share with other churches, because it ruins our personal ambitions. Yet, many churches cannot even get far enough to fail---they have not even opened discussion with churches different from them. Same theology. Same social status. Same race. The American Church has decided who their neighbors really are.

A few months ago, I met with a pastor from a predominately black church. Their congregation had a vision for a one day event, which would unite the churches in our city. All races. All denominations. I told the pastor my church would join in this vision. I stood before their church to tell them how excited we were to be part of this event. Their pastor issued similar invitations to all the other pastors in the city.

The day arrived and no one else came. I was there. The worship was incredible, but no one else came. The speakers were amazing, but no one else came. The Spirit of God dwelled with us, but no one else came.

Why do minorities speak of racial healing, and the whites do so seemingly only out of guilt? This “white guilt” is a hot sociology topic in universities today. Guilt does not motivate a revolution. It makes us only sympathetic spectators. We feel bad, but rarely do we believe we should be part of the process. Racism is seen as an act of hatred, not indifference. How did I resolve my own white guilt? My first year in college I joined the NAACP. As long as the world is fallen, racial reconciliation is an ongoing process.

Yes, some churches have made incredible progress in the area of racial reconciliation. I believe Promise Keepers was correct in stating it as one of their seven core commitments. I am not writing to those churches. I am writing to the churches that desire to minister to this generation, but have taken no consideration on how to make diversity possible.

Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” It is easy to live and love in a community that reflects our own goals, background, and experience. Even the pagans do that. We must live in community and worship within a dimension that reflects concern and love for people of all backgrounds and experiences. This love will honor our Father and be the witness to an unbelieving generation.

David Hopkins, age 23 [http://monkhouse.org/david] is a contributing editor for Next-Wave. He recently graduated from Texas A&M University at Commerce with a degree in English and Philosophy. David has enrolled to Fuller Theological Seminary's distance learning program. David was raised in the Methodist tradition. Although currently, he is a community pastor at Axxess, an emerging congregation within Pantego Bible Church. In his "spare time," David is a high school English teacher. E-mail him at david@next-wave.org.
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