Thursday, September 22, 2005

Transformation of division...

"It is important that we are all together… it is the kingdom, not a ghetto we want to demonstrate.."

I remember when we first arrived at Poplar and started to think about how to be multi-cultural church in a multi-cultural area. I had seen models of church that had specific services for specific national groupings. We started to explore the potential, only to be de-railed in a conversation with some of our African church members.

It's a bit irritating that I can't remember who exactly wrote this. Anyway it is in the Urban Theology Reader...
"The Joppa story witnesses to the new things that the spirit of God is doing in the church and the world after the coming of Christ , and the power of the gospel of Jesus Christ in those empowered and called by the spirit to challenge exclusion, to transform division into communion and to draw the marginalised into the heart of the community of the people of God."
Northcott, M. (ed) (1998) Urban Theology: A Reader

Not a bad ‘how to’ avoid church becoming a ghetto. Remember we are called to challenge exclusion. Remember we are called to transform division into communion and remember we are called to draw the marginalised into the heart of the community of the people of God.

And I think it is an attitude of mind rather than any working out of programme. Could be that your church is in Jersey (where when on holiday my daughter asked where are all the black people…?) but it doesn’t stop you being a church that challenges exclusion, transforms division into communion and draws in the marginalised.

I am left trying to get my head around ‘specialised churches’ for ‘specialised people’ are they able to challenge exclusion, transform division into communion and draw in the marginalised?

I am left trying to get my head around do ‘specialised churches’ for ‘specialised people’ demonstrate the kingdom or a ghetto.

I am left trying to get my head around whether I have been fed a church growth lie that ‘if you attend a church for the first time and fail to see someone like you in the first minute you are unlikely to return’. Or has Phil Yancey got something when in "Church why bother?" says if he sees anyone remotely like him within the church he never attends again!

More blogs about multi-cultural church; segregation; Urban ministry; sleep walking to segregation.


Kapten Clark said...

But what about language differences? This is the problem where we are now. I have such a burden for uniting the Estonians and Russians. But language is a real factor. We do everything in English and it is already translated into Estonian. When we are at SA camp, everything is then also translated into Russian. It takes forever! Would welcome your thoughts.

Martin said...

Geoff Ryan wrote an article on this - I think possibly in Officer, possibly in Horizons - makes for good reading. It's also in "Siren Call" come to think about it...

Multicultural in Devon is very interesting - 97% white at the most. Cultural diversity is much more about urban/rural, age, gender

So I Go said...

wow.. great post.

i think i just keep coming back to the word 'exclusion.' i believe God wants his Church to look simply like it would if we excluded no one from entering its doors, and as the quote said, really became intentional with our efforts to not only 'in'clude, but 'draw in the marginalized' (whatever they may look like)..

peac, Gordon.. have a great weekend.

Gordon said...


The logistics of language must complicate things.Looking at our parent and toddlers the Vietnamese mothers sit together, the Bengali mothers sit together, the Eastenders sit together – largely I presume because of language – are they segregated? I don’t think they are. There is an involvement with each other even when there may be a lack of understanding.

We don't as a church have major problems liguistically as English is a common denominator between all the nationalities - so I'm afraid I haven't much to offer in the way of advice, apart from trying to enjoy each others differences - food is usually good for that!

Gordon said...

Martin - I haven't seen that article but it sounds useful as does much that Geoff writes! Your name came up today in college over lunch with the stanbury's. Hope you are well?

Gordon said...

inclusion does seem a more attractive word Jeff. Also I notice you tagged me - thanks!! :o) You are very gracious.

Bill said...

I enjoy your insight. In SoCal one of the most diverse areas of the world the most segregated time is Sunday morning. I do not know why. Language and culture are issues but I think most people simply like sameness. Most like to worship with people like them. I don't know if its right or wrong but since I've never found a group of sameness for me (outside other college rebels) I guess diversity in worship is just as good. I mean at times I would enjoy church where everyone reguardless of race was semi-theologians and we sat around drank tea (or whatever for non-salvationists) and shared life with one anouther. But now I find myself in mostly african american church and I let that minister to me at times.

The issue is not an easy one. I just see a church divided. But what really is church anymore? I that not the problem? I just don't know.

Martin said...

Doing fine ta, Gord...just hope that the Stanbury's were being nice! Good people.

Still bloggin...randomly!

Anonymous said...

My view is that church people like yourselves should stop looking at other people as being outside your club in terms of stereotypical social or racial groupings and try and see beyond such patronising labels. There's a whole world out there which is much more finely balanced than you can ever imagine. If you stepped into it sometime you might understand what I mean but by the language you use that looks like it might be difficult. If only you could hear yourselves. Your choice of language is so often so patronising and at times it is downright offensive.

Gordon said...

Dear Anon

Perhaps you should try and tell me a little about my context before you judge me so harshly. Perhaps when you tell me to step out in the ‘whole finely balanced world’ you should tell me a little of what I have been doing tonight. Perhaps you should tell me a little bit about who I have been hanging out with tonight, what we have been talking about what we have been laughing about. Before you throw the label bigot at us perhaps you should try and hear a little about what our church is about. But of course I doubt very much you would want to do that, because you are happy doing exactly what you accuse ‘us’ of doing - stereotypically labelling us. You don’t know me and you’ve happily pigeoned holed me. You don’t know what my life is about – but you’ve made your judgement – you don’t even know what race I am – you can only assume.

Thanks for adding to the dialogue but to be honest coming in here and shouting hasn’t really helped anything – but I guess that was never your motive. If you do want dialogue please point out where my language has been so patronising and offensive. If you want to lambaste – sign your name so at least we can be courteous :o).