How diverse is your church?
If you’re like the typical church in the United States of America, you are probably dealing with some mix of Anglos, Latino’s, Asian/Pacific Islander, or Black. With a population that diverse, a church has to think about the specific needs of the community it serves.
The reality can be that the cultural communities often have their own specific ministry for their cultural community. It is not uncommon, for instance, to have two religious education programs for children; one for the Latino community and one for the Anglo community. The same can be true for youth ministry, where a church could have 3 different youth ministries; one for the Latino, Anglo, and Vietnamese community. This is often the case in the area I serve, the Diocese of San Jose.
As a ministry leader, I have to take into account the cultural diversity of my church. There are 2 questions that are worth considering when analyzing my church ministry in light of the diversity within the church:
1. Is it okay to have separate programs for different cultural communities?
Ken Johnson-Mondragon, from the Instituto de Fe y Vida, wrote an excellent blog post on the subject. The answer is yes. It is important that the church recognizes the cultural differences of a community and respond accordingly. This has less to do with language and more to do with cultural. As a ministry leader, I cannot treat everyone like they are in the same place and have the same needs.
The pastoral needs of each cultural community is very different.
Ministry leaders need to respond to those specific pastoral needs. However, the ministries to different communities need to be in line with the mission of the church. Yes, you have separate programs, but they also needs to be working in concert with each other moving the church forward.
There are times where it is necessary to bring all the communities together. This is to build unity among community and remind everyone that we are one church, not multiple churches.
2. Which groups am I not serving?
The answer may not be as simple as you might think. A recent revelation for me is that a church often does a good job ministering to recent immigrants as well as those whose families have been well established in the United States for years.
The group that is often overlooked is the 2nd generation.
They are often bi-lingual and bi-cultural. They don’t quite fit in with the ministry for recent immigrants and they don’t quite fit in to the ministry for those families that have been well established in the area for years.
The consequence is that they feel like they don’t quite belong in the church. What are their specific pastoral needs and how can you respond to them?
Question: How does your ministry respond to the multi-cultural reality of your church?