he United States and Canada are two of the most culturally and linguistically diverse countries in the world. This diversity has been shaped by waves of people from different countries around the world that have immigrated to take up residency in these two North American nations. The United States and Canada are frequently referred to as countries of immigrants.
People have come to the U.S. andCanada by the millions, for many different reasons: war, famine, better socioeconomic opportunities, family reunion,education, etc. The USA and Canada are a fertile mission field, and local churches have a great opportunity to reach people from all over the world in their communities.
Because the world has moved into the United States and Canada, the landscape of its society is increasingly multicultural and multilingual. The rising tide of multiculturalism characterizes the present and future of most institutions in the United States/Canada society and the church needs to become attuned to this new reality
Dr. Ray Bakke, in his book The Urban Christian, states the following: “Missions can be divided into two categories: First, there is the traditional mission to people who are geographically distant from us. The second category of mission is to people culturally distant from our church, but living under the shadow of its spire.However large the numbers of those unreached by the gospel in the traditional mission fields, it seems likely that there are many more millions on church doorsteps, in the cities. The existing churches will not reach these huge and rapidly growing populations without cross cultural missions at home.”
The Next Generation
The sons and daughters of the first generation of immigrants comprise a rapidly growing demographic that can be reached in a multicultural congregation setting. They are familiar with the multicultural contexts in their schools, neighborhoods, work places, and social gatherings, and they prefer the English language for communication.
Gary L. McIntosh and Alan McMahan, in the book Being the Church in a Multi-Ethnic Community, state: “Demographers predict the population of the United States will top four hundred million by the middle of the twenty–first century. Most of these people will live in urban centers of the United States, which will place at least 90 percent or more of Americans in close proximity with people of other ethnicities and cultures.”
Multicultural Ministry, USA/Canada
The Multicultural Ministries USA/Canada regional office exists to support districts, pastors, local churches, and leaders in the task of making Christlike disciples among all ethnic groups in the U.S. and Canada. Its vision is to encourage the development of strategy and initiative to reach the USA/Canada mission field through the visionary leadership of the ethnic ministries facilitators and their strategy committees. The strategy committees are church leaders committed to leading their ethnic groups in establishing the kingdom of God in the hearts of people and their communities.
Multicultural Ministries sponsors regional and national conferences and seminars to assist the cultural groups in maintaining Nazarene theological and doctrinal identity and equipping them to proclaim and support the mission of the church: “To make Christ-like Disciples in the Nations.”
We provide specific seminars in church planting, evangelism, and discipleship to equip ethnic leaders. Multicultural Ministries partners with our Nazarene educational institutions to prepare men and women for ministry. We also provide seminars and materials to help church leaders develop the skills needed to build a welcoming church in a multicultural society.
Multicultural Ministries assist, in partnership with World Relief, selected local churches, and Compassionate Ministry sites, to seek recognition before the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) in the interest of providing competent, affordable, and authorized immigration legal services on a limited basis. For more information about these ministries and services visit the web: http://www.usacanadaregion.org/ministries/multicultural ministries.
Biblical Examples of Multicultural Ministry
The Antioch Church, mentioned in Acts 11, serves as an inspirational model of the first multicultural faith community in the New Testament. This church brought together ethnically and racially diverse people under the banner of Christ. Our multicultural USA/Canada churches experience a glimpse of heaven in our fellowship and worship. The Apostle John saw the vision: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands" (Rev. 7:9).
We need to open the doors of our churches to people of all races and nationalities. Our churches must reflect their communities, and ultimately heaven itself, as people from different nations and languages come to worship Jesus: “Salvation belongs to our God, and to the Lamb” (Revelation 7:10).