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Embrace All

We will improve our reach to the poor and disenfranchised and create a normalcy for multicultural ministry by rewarding and celebrating churches that minister to the hurting, broken and people unlike themselves.



By David Roller
Bishop, FMCUSA

Embracing All People

Some folks are easy to hug – others, not so much. The easiest ones to hug are those just like us; they talk like us, dress like us, spend like us and even hug like us. That’s just human nature, to accept those like ourselves; but shouldn’t Christians live a supra-human nature?

There’s that “image of God” thing that instills in us that “love of God” thing, that drives us to that “mission of God” thing. That’s why We embrace those who are different, and especially those who can’t reciprocate, who have nothing to offer us. We love them and embrace them simply because they bear the image of our Creator and are included in the redemptive work of the Son. If they were worth Jesus, they’re worth us. If Jesus loved them, we’ll love them; if Jesus came to rescue them, we’ll at least sit next to them in church!

We embrace those who are different, and especially those who can’t reciprocate, who have nothing to offer us.

Let’s make this practical, on a personal and church level. On a personal level, it’s “unnatural,” but on a church level, it’s even harder to break the normal sociological barriers that keep us with those like ourselves. The walls of this sociological corral are normally constructed around matters like race, language, economic level/class, culture and even sport teams. But we see past the dividing walls that separated us, to the image of God and the work of Jesus that unite us.

We see past the dividing walls that separated us, to the image of God and the work of Jesus that unite us.

Embracing those not like us means we intentionally begin conversations, join clubs, take snacks to, sit with and enjoy persons who support your team’s arch-rival, persons with different skin and hair, persons who talk “funny,” persons who ride bicycles to work and persons who voted for the other guy (or lady) for president.

And as a church, we’re veritable outlaws when it comes to the unwritten laws that separate us. Churches break cultural rules if the rules don’t measure up to God’s cultural standards. We do what “normal” groups don’t do. We love those unlike ourselves. We welcome those who can’t “contribute.” And then we teach those new embraced people that we don’t accept the rules of the dominant culture, and soon they too begin to see the beauty of living by God’s cultural rules.

Videos:

God’s Choice

Shirley Elosh understands special needs well. Her son Jonathan, 28, has multiple needs which require unique care. Elosh’s parenting experience has prepared her for ministry to people with similar needs. “I was starting to think about what the Lord was putting on our heart about special needs,” said Elosh. She began to think about starting a church designed for people with special needs and disabilities.

Download the video …

Connecting with People

Samuel Lopez wants to equip Hispanic pastors for multiethnic environments. He has personal experience in that area because his English-speaking congregation is primarily Caucasian families plus several attendees of Asian, African and Hispanic descent. Lopez’s call to pastoral ministry led him to Minnesota from Texas, where he had served as an administrative assistant to the conference superintendent and acted as a liaison between Hispanic and Anglo congregations.

Download the video …

Discussion:

How do you embrace the poor and disenfranchised in your church?

Well, it’s kind of easier for us, since we established our church for that purpose. It’s kind of built into our DNA. So, most of our time is spent in after school activities in the arts, for at risk kids and children of families who have “less”. Our evenings are designed to do the same for adults and teens. Then, our weekends are spent in eating with our new friends, and talking about God and His Word. Different, for sure.

– Mark Cryderman

We have a quarterly clothing ministry. People bring clothes to share and take clothes they need. It is not a requirement to bring clothes. We have a weekly worship and teaching service for developmentally disabled adults. Several local agencies bring people every Wednesday night. Several people from these agencies attend Sunday morning services as well. Three will become members of the church this Spring.

– Mark S. Waterhouse

We started “The Matthew 25 Project” which is reaching thousands every month through our food pantry, clothing drives, etc.

– Russ Baley

Join the conversation.

Resources:

The Mercy and Accessibility of Jesus

Kari Morris-Guzman is an ordained elder and shares her story of becoming disabled. When we make our churches accessible, we are, in a sense, making God accessible. Our brothers and sisters with disabilities have enough barriers to overcome in their daily lives. Let’s make our churches places that are barrier-free with all people included and valued. Read more …

Sharing God’s Choice

Shirley Elosh understands special needs well. Her son, Jonathan, 28, has multiple needs that require unique care. Elosh’s parenting experience has prepared her for ministry to people with similar needs. Elosh began to consider launching a church designed for people with special needs and disabilities. This LLM article tells the story of this church and features a video interview with Elosh. Read more …

When Helping Hurts

Churches and individual Christians typically have faulty assumptions about the causes of poverty, resulting in the use of strategies that do considerable harm to poor people and themselves. This book provides foundational concepts, clearly articulated general principles and relevant applications. The result is an effective and holistic ministry to the poor, not a truncated gospel. View at Wesleyan Publishing House …

Happy in God’s Sunlight

An inspiring article about Eliza Suggs who spent much of her life riding in a baby carriage pushed by family members. Stunted by rickets, she was only 33 inches tall. Suggs did not see her disabilities as handicaps. She was, as everyone else, a unique creation of God with a specific purpose for His glory. Read more …

When the Church Looks Like the Kingdom

Both people and churches need to intentionally form friendships across ethnic lines. These friendships usually don’t just happen, because they take us out of our comfort zone. Churches become multiethnic when the pastor both models such relationships and teaches the congregation about building healthy race relations. This article from Richard C. Harris explores the diversity in the church. Read more …

The Mosaic Church

This foundational article from Light & Life Magazine explores diversity throughout the bible and ends with Revelation. The Apostle John saw heaven’s completed mosaic of uncountable tribes, languages, peoples and nations — all redeemed and worshipping the Lamb. Read more …

Making Diversity Less Divisive

We know that the universal church contains diversity, but how does the local church reflect that diversity? Find out how your church can emphasize diversity in this article from Bishop Matthew Thomas. Read more …

Being the Church in a Multi-Ethnic Community

Being the Church in a Multi-Ethnic Community is an introductory guide, a basic primer for pastors and congregation leaders who are wrestling with how to reach the ethnic groups next door and welcome them into the multi-ethnic body of Christ. Gary L. McIntosh and Alan McMahan offer a research-based overview of the issues, challenges, and essential principles for developing multi-ethnic churches in the United States. View at Wesleyan Publishing House …


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