Mike Price is the minister at the Bogalusa Church of Christ in Louisiana. He introduces himself further below. This is his first contribution to Cultural Mosaic. You can browse more of his writing on his personal blog, http://drmikeprice.com/.
Sometimes you really find a treasure. They are the unexpected events that exceed your expectations. Like taking a stroll on the beach and finding an old coin. A real surprise! On top of that you find out the coin is valuable!
Just over four years ago my wife Nancy and I decided to go back into the mission work. It is a stateside mission work in Bogalusa, Louisiana. It is truly different from the foreign mission work we experienced in Kowloon, China for 3 years, where my daughter was born and we worked only with Chinese. Bogalusa is a multicultural/multiethnic mission work, consisting of 51% black, 47% white and 2% Hispanic. An interesting side note is that the demographics of Bogalusa are an identical match with the church I work with.
As a result of this setting I have read and researched a lot of material on multicultural/multiethnic congregational life. I am familiar with mixed communities, because in my first twelve years of schooling I attended 12 different schools. Sometimes I attended as many as three different schools in one year and I lived in more than one mixed neighborhood. Our first preaching job while supporting myself in school was with and all black congregation and was a great experience indeed! In my preaching life most of the gospel meetings I have conducted have been for black congregations. This has not happened out of any design, it has just worked out that way. God has blessed me, and continues to do so, with a variety of experiences and challenges in life.
Even with my past and present experience I need to make sure as a missionary and minister, that I am able to promote and encourage a culture in the congregation that is not dominated by any one culture or ethnic group. We need a balanced culture from God’s prospective that reflects the multicultural/multiethnic reality of our congregation. This is easier said than done, but it is taking place and continuing to improve.
We are establishing a single congregational culture and practice that honors all groups represented. This goal has provided my motivation to research and gain God’s perspective for his church in a changing multicultural/ multiethinic congregation. Our nation is fast becoming a multicultural/multiethinic society, moving in a direction where there will not be one dominate culture or ethnic group.
Peter Horne introduced me to a list of books on the subject and I asked Lawrence Rodgers who is working in multicultural congregation, which book he would like to see a book report on and he picked “Many Colors.” To my surprise “Many Colors” by Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, was like finding a valuable coin while taking a stroll down the beach and being totally surprised. It sums up so well and with clarity, what I have experienced and lived through. Rah also gives me more information to work with, which will allow me to become a better minister for Christ – increasing my cultural intelligence. The book is written in a way that anyone who reads it can digest the information and intent of the book.
- Behaviors that are learned,
- Ideas that reinforce beliefs and values, and
- Products that reinforce beliefs.
He does and outstanding job of pointing out biblically God’s view of a multicultural and multiethnic reality that God wants for the church and how this is possible to achieve. Since cultures are God’s intent, Rah points out they are, “not inherently evil, but rather are an expression by fallen humanity to live into the high calling of the Imago Dei (Imago Dei – Image of God)…Our goal in cultural intelligence therefore, is not to erase cultural differences, but rather to seek ways to honor the presence of God in different cultures. When we are dealing with cross-cultural and multicultural ministry, it is important to see God at work in all cultures, not just in one.”
I loved it when Dr. Rah quotes David Bosch in “Transforming Mission,”
“Mission is primarily and ultimately, the work of the Triune God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, for the sake of the world, a ministry in which the church is privileged to participate.”
I hope you will take the time to read “Many Colors,” it will bless your life! Whether you are in a multicultural/ multiethnic congregation or not, “Many Colors” will open up avenues of success in your own personal evangelism and capacity to reach out to a truly multicultural/multiethinic nation that we are becoming, increasing your cultural intelligence.