Thoughts on “Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church”

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Ever since 1996, we have been trying to build a multi-ethnic church here in Ann Arbor. To be honest, I knew that it was going to be difficult, but I didn’t know that it was going to be this hard. Human nature tells us that we like things are comfortable and easy; and building a multi-ethnic church is neither comfortable nor easy.

But the more we continued to search the Scriptures we resolutely decided that we want to experience a glimpse of heaven here on earth as we see people from every language and nation gathered together to worship the King of Kings.

With no disrespect to “ethnic” churches, I really feel like there is something more powerful when the world sees a church that is diverse ethnically and culturally. This realization hit home for me again when I was in Chicago last month. During the Christmas season our family went back to Chicago to visit our extended families. Christina and I decided to take our kids to a famous breakfast place (the kind of place where you have to wait hours to be seated).

When we were finally seated, I couldn’t help but to notice that in our section of the restaurant (we were placed in a back room) how diverse the people. But the problem was that we were all sitting in clusters. The White folks had their table. The black folks were right behind us. The Latino folks were at two tables in front of us. Then you had the Asian folks (us). I couldn’t help but to observe (a favorite pastime of mine) how diverse this room was but yet how separated we were. It was hard to explain but it just made me think about the Church.

In the secular world it is expected that there is prejudice and racism since their worldview does not necessary dictate the belief of the imago dei. But to see it in the church, it makes you wonder if we are not different that people who have not experience the Gospel of Jesus.

I brought up the observation with Christina and asked her, “what would it be like if we all were inter-mingled and we genuinely loved each other even though we are all so different?” (I was so tempted to stand up and share my observations with all of the 30 or 35 people in that room).

This is why this book really struck a chord with me. Pastor Mark DeYmaz shared their journey, both personally and as a church, in trying to become a multi-ethnic church. He starts off by rooting everything in Scripture with the prayer of Jesus for unity in John 17. Then he moved towards the Book of Acts.

DeYmaz lists 7 core commitments which are crucial in building a healthy multi-ethnic church. They are:

1) Embrace Dependence – knowing that unity is a supernatural work of the Spirit and otherwise contradictory to the natural ways and means of man.


2) Take Intentional Steps – to establish and maintain a multi-racial church in which no single racial group represents more than 80% of the congregation.


3) Empower Diverse Leadership – at all levels of leadership throughout the church.


4) Develop Cross-Cultural Relationships – with others of their church outside of Sunday morning.


5) Pursue Cross-Cultural Competence – beyond mere awareness of or sensitivity to other cultures different than their own.


6) Promote a Spirit of Inclusion – integrating diverse cultural forms and expressions of faith into the corporate worship experience.


7) Mobilize for Impact – acting upon their unique credibility and possibilities for extending the love of God to all people, both at home and abroad, in pursuit of social justice and spiritual transformation.

These are core components that HMCC has to continue to recommit to on a regular basis. Even the road is long and difficult, it is just more fun eating pancakes and corn beef hash with people who represent a face of heaven in the future.

You can check out Pastor Mark DeYmaz’s blog for some more insights.

Spiritual ENTREPRENEUR, Church EQUIPPER, Leadership EDUCATOR, Ideas EXPERIMENTER & Global EXPLORER who is trying to transform lives and transform the world.
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