Creating a Diverse Community
Part Two: Our Mission
by Eric Bryant
As leaders within the church, too often we have substituted Christ’s mission with our own. Our churches have become safe havens for Christians to “get fed” or to come to worship God. The church seeks to meet our needs rather than meeting the needs of the world around us. We see church as a way to promote our heritage or learn more about God in a style we prefer. As a result, our churches become a club for others just like us. Our selfish motives for meeting together keep us from considering the needs of those around us.
A person who is a mature disciple is evangelistic. We need to follow Paul’s example when he says, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some” (1 Cor. 9:22). We need to trust Jesus when he says, “For whoever wants to find his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will find it” (Mark 8:35). Churches on mission sacrifice their desires and preferences to see others reached. The mission of Christ is the reason the church exists.*
God’s heart beats for those who do not know Him. When our heart beats along with God’s, the barriers for reaching others dissipate. Our love for God and for others surpasses our fear, apathy, prejudice, selfishness, or complacency. When we decide to join Christ on His mission in reaching the world, we cannot help but become more reflective of the people who live near us. When our lives are transformed by God, we become witnesses to all of those around us. We are called to love God and love our neighbor regardless of their skin color. Diversity happens naturally when people are evangelistic in our diverse world.
The early church was diverse. Christ’s followers took his message to the world. They were not interested in simply bringing Israel to God through Christ. They were impassioned by God to take the Gospel to the ends of the earth (Matthew 28:18-20). At Pentecost, the church was born as the disciples of Christ miraculously spoke in the languages of the Parthians, Medes, Asians, Egyptians, Romans, Libyans, Cretans, Arabs, among others (Acts 2: 9-11). Phillip helped an Ethiopian man follow Christ just after spending time reaching out to the men and women of Samaria (Acts 8). Paul was called by God to take the Gospel to the Gentiles. At one point he says, “But the Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it” (2 Tim. 4:17). The great news of Jesus Christ is for every “tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev. 5:9b).
Diversity should be natural in our churches as we fulfill our purpose of reaching those who do not know Him.
**See An Unstoppable Force and The Barbarian Way by Erwin Raphael McManus