I’m en route to the Mosaix Multi-Ethnic Church Conference in Long Beach. I’m expecting to learn some good stuff and hoping to catch up with some friends. I’m also anticipating to hear some bad news: about how segregated our churches remain; about how incredibly hard church planting is; about the many opportunities to offend and hurt those whose ethnicity and culture differ from mine. Those of us who pastor and lead diverse communities need to hear the bad news. We need to be reminded of the complexities and hardships associated with this movement. Without the bad news we are more prone to overlook, oversimplify, and overstep.
But there is always more than bad news and this past Sunday at New Community provided so many reminders of this. Our talented (and diverse) worship team led us very well. I baptized a beautiful baby girl whose extended family had traveled from Ohio & Hong Kong for the occasion. Pastor Michelle preached a great sermon from Acts 10:1-11:18 and she challenged us to consider how we might say yes to anyone God calls to our church. She and I then served communion to our church, a monthly practice for us and always a favorite moment for me. Before the benediction I invited a family to join me at the front. This family had been with us from the beginning and they have recently moved to a too-distant suburb. I watched members tear up as I thanked them for their faithfulness and then we prayed for them. And then, because it this is what we do on the first Sunday of the month, we moved chairs and tables around the gym and sat down for our potluck lunch. During the lunch I joked around with a table of young people from the neighborhood, spoke with three recent college grads who couldn’t speak highly enough about the welcome they have received by the church, and was taught the basics of candy crush by one of our youth. Around the gym, sitting at round tables full of good food, people talked and listened and laughed.
I point to each of these things – mostly for my own benefit – to remind that there is really good stuff happening in lots of churches like ours all over the country. We’ve got to be sober-minded about hurdles and pitfalls of multi-ethnic ministry. But we’ve got to be just as diligent about rejoicing in the many instances of God’s grace at work among us. It’s not always as spectacular as the bad news, but it’s always good and always worth noticing.