Why am I planting a multiethnic church in Seattle? Two simple reasons: Jesus and America.
First, Jesus commands us to do it (Matt. 28:19-20). To a group of ethnocentric Jews, Jesus commanded not just "go and make disciples" but "go and make disciples of all nations." The insider Jews are to go and sacrificially serve the outsider Gentiles? Yes. As it turned out, it took a persecution of the church to scatter the hesitant Jews to the undesirable Gentiles. But once Jesus scattered them, people of every ethnicity began to hear, rejoice, and grow in the gospel of God's grace in Christ. And they joined the mission of the church. So should we in our part of the world that is segregated by race.
Secondly, American society requires that church leaders and planters learn to engage and do ministry to its diverse population. The alternative is to become irrelevant and ineffective in our mission. In God's sovereign plan, America is a nation of immigrants from all over the world. The gurus and experts who study what's going on in America tell us that minorities will become the dominant majority by 2042. Some of our children in public schools are already seeing the future of a minority majority. This has huge implications for church leaders and church planters. Unless they attain multicultural leadership competencies, leaders and planters with skills and assumptions of a white dominant majority will be incompetent in a multiethnic context. Bob Burns simply states, "If pastors are going to lead churches more effectively now and in the coming years, it is vital that they develop cultural intelligence and equip others to serve in a multi-cultural environment." The point being, people of all ethnicities are in our cities. We need to learn how to engage them - or be ready for frustration and ongoing segregation on Sunday mornings. It won't be easy.
My hope is that, by God's grace, New City Church is becoming a church where people are gospel-saturated and culturally intelligent to engage a whole new America, or more accurately, the America that has always been - a multiracial and multiethnic America. If you are in the Seattle area, join us. If you are elsewhere, pray for us.
For an extended discussion of why we must intentionally establish multiethnic churches in a racialized America, I have provided the eighth and final conclusion of my dissertation. The context of my research was in the Presbyterian Church in America. Regardless, it provides a much needed perspective on the issue that sadly is rarely discussed as a gospel issue as it should be in the church.