Lawrence W. Rodgers is a Christ-follower, husband, father, friend, servant, minister, and blog author. His blog is SeekingFirst.org, were he writes about practical theology, faith, family living, Christian living, and other relevant matters from a Biblical perspective. Lawrence is a full time minister, and is dedicated to seeking first the Kingdom of God in all areas of life. I appreciate him sharing this blog post with Cultural Mosaic readers.
No other task I have ever attempted to take on in my ministry has been as taxing as the task of encouraging homogenous congregations to grow into heterogeneous congregations. No other cause I have ever endured has produced as much pain as encouraging multiethnic, multiracial, or multicultural diversity in congregations. I have never had my efforts called into question more for any other endeavor as this one. In my efforts, I was once asked the disparaging question if I had an agenda, I sternly replied “No!” But, I have rethought my answer, and the answer is yes! I do have an agenda, and that is the Jesus agenda, and within in it is the call to help the church to grow into the prayer Jesus prayed in John 17, or to help in Jesus decree for it to be on Earth as it is in Heaven. Heaven, according to Revelation 5:9, will be the most diverse place any of us have ever experienced, and we should all work towards it being on Earth as it is in Heaven.
This calling has not been an easy one. However, it is a needed one. In this article, I will share eight great quotes on congregational diversity from eight great books I have read. These books have helped me to find encouragement along this road, and I hope they will encourage you as well. Maybe, these quotes can challenge others, and help use rethink congregational diversity, and the importance of it.
“The work of cross-cultural ministry is a difficult one. If the task of building a multiethnic church were an easy one, then every church in America could be experiencing the joys of successful multicultural ministry. Instead, most will recognize that planting, developing, and nurturing a multiethnic and multicultural church is extraordinarily hard work. In fact, if you are finding multicultural church ministry to be easy work, I would wonder if you are engaging in a multiethnic church but within a monocultural context. In other words, your congregants are adapting to one set of preferences, and they are not expressing the fullness of their own culture but instead acquiescing to the dominant culture. That type of church can be exciting and dynamic, but it would not require cultural intelligence. In fact, it would call for cultural oblivion.
The call to build a multiethnic, multicultural, racially reconciled church is an extremely high calling. There are numerous obstacles in society and in our human nature that could prevent us from living into God’s calling for our church. We must recognize, however, that this calling to be a diverse community that truly represents the kingdom of God requires great sacrifice. The deeply seated demonic power of racism cannot be overthrown without great cost.” 
“How can the concept of multiculturalism be applied to the church scene? Simply having persons from different ethnic, racial, or national groups does not necessarily make a multicultural church. This mixture of ethnic, racial, and national peoples might make up a multiracial church. The degree to which a church might be multicultural depends on the presence of certain clues or signs. These signs are not absolute but relative.
The signs might include leadership that represents the various ethnic/racial groups. Another visible sign would be the worship style. Does the worship style represent the methods and means of each of the groups within the congregation? The evidence of multiculturalism would be when the music, the preaching style, and the worship format might not be recognized as being easily connected to only one cultural expression.
The search for signs could go further by examining the leadership style and the church governance, both of which are culturally influenced. In a multicultural church, there would be appreciation and accommodation to the different styles of the cultures represented in the church’s membership.” 
“The third key influence of multiethnicity is its challenge to power and privilege. In America these qualities have been the domain of Anglos. Jesus presented a countercultural view of these two traits when he challenged the Roman view of power and authority with the model of servanthood. Unfortunately, American Christians have often allowed the world to determine their view of power and privilege, rather than Scripture. This has created an Anglo Christianity that is increasingly affluent, suburban, and educated, yet functionally disconnected from non-Anglo populations. A multiethnic church will bring to American Christianity a new awareness of these issues from a biblical perspective so that the new people of God, the church, may truly reflect the diversity and equality inherent in the gospel.” 
“Jesus exhorts us to count the cost before we begin any endeavor (Luke 14:28). There is a definite cost to the development of multiethnic ministry. A large number of people who simply could not adjust to the changes in our congregation left the church. Some of those brothers and sisters were very close to my wife and me. I remember the Sunday that one of our church council members came to me asking, “Just who are we trying to get into this church anyway?”
I responded, “People who are hungry and who know they need the Lord.”
On the other hand, some of our black brethren have suffered criticism and racial slurs from their own people because they have chosen to attend a church pastored by a white man. We must realize that deep prejudices have been ingrained in people from childhood. Once we have a clear perception of this matter, we are enabled to respond in love, instead of reacting in anger.” 
“For the disciples to obey the Great Commission, they had to face the inevitability of cross-cultural, multiethnic ministry. At the very start of the first-century church, Peter and the other apostles confronted racial and ethnic challenges head on. Remember the story of the first deacons? The Hellenistic, Greek-speaking Jews were murmuring that their poor widows were not receiving fair distribution from the wealthy. The Aramaic-speaking Jews, like the apostles themselves, had neglected this minority group. The apostles addressed the problem by appointing Greek-speaking deacons to serve the widows. The first church practiced the dance of cross-cultural ministry and multiethnic evangelism from the outset, because of the Great Multiethnic Commission.” 
“THIS NEXT GREAT VERTICAL AND HORIZONTAL righteousness and justice movement will not be a white, black, or brown movement, but rather a kingdom culture, multiethnic movement.
Notice how I did not say multicultural but multiethnic. The “culture” we all share—or can share—is God’s kingdom culture. We can share in it whether we are black, white, or brown, or whether we are Americans, Egyptians, or Greeks.” 
“Why is it that only 5.5 percent of American evangelical churches could be considered multiethnic (where no single ethnicity makes up more than 80 percent of its congregants)?1 Why is that? Five and a half percent! And we’re supposed to be living in the melting pot, the place where hundreds of languages and colors often live within a few miles—or feet—of each other. What’s so sad about this is that many people outside the church are far less racially divided. Consider the military, our places of work, or athletics. Yet there are three places where racial division still persists: bars, prisons, and the American evangelical church.
We need to see the glaring contradiction in saying we believe in hell while making no effort to tear down the walls of racism and ethnic superiority. If we’re going to take Jesus’ words seriously, we have to make a more concerted effort to forge avenues of racial reconciliation and unity under the banner of the gospel of Christ. One day, Christ will come back and there will be an amazing worship celebration—with African bongos, Indian sitars, and an ensemble of Mariachi trumpets—where every tribe, tongue, nation, and color will bow the knee to their King and celebrate! If this sounds irritating, then go back and read Matthew 8. It’s written for you.” 
“Interestingly, when the church embraces the second conversion to community, very often the third conversion to mission follows. A Jesus-centered community is an attractive community—a community that encourages, forgives, serves, loves, and invites non-Christians into its community. The gospel reconciles people to God and to one another, creating a single new community comprised of an array of cultures and languages to make one new humanity (Col. 2:15). This new humanity reconciles its differences (Col. 2:14–16) in the commonality of the gospel. It is both local and global. As the body grows, a redeemed, multiethnic, intergenerational, economically and culturally diverse humanity emerges. When we act as the church toward one another, we display the gracious, redemptive reign of Jesus to the world. As Jesus’s redemptive reign breaks into this world, the church grows into the full stature of Christ.” 
Thanks for Reading!
~Lawrence W. Rodgers
 Soong-Chan Rah, Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2010).
 John Mark Terry, Ebbie C. Smith, and Justice Anderson, Missiology: An Introduction to the Foundations, History, and Strategies of World Missions (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998), 578.
 David T. Olson, The American Church in Crisis: Groundbreaking Research Based on a National Database of over 200,000 Churches (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009).
 Jack W. Hayford, Greg Howse, and Michael Posey, Race and Reconciliation: Healing the Wounds, Winning the Harvest, Spirit-FilledLifeKingdom Dynamics Study Guides (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1996).
 David A. Anderson, Multicultural Ministry: Finding Your Church’s Unique Rhythm (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2009).
 Samuel Rodriguez, The Lamb’s Agenda: Why Jesus Is Calling You to a Life of Righteousness and Justice (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2013).
 Francis Chan and Preston Sprinkle, Erasing Hell: What God Said About Eternity, and the Things We’ve Made Up (Colorado Springs, CO: David C Cook, 2011).
 Jonathan K. Dodson, Gospel-centered Discipleship (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2012).