What I want the congregation to understand is that we just crossed a line. The line in question was crossed on March 20, 2011, at about 1:00 p.m. It was a Sunday afternoon and while the world went about it’s business, Zion Lutheran Church quietly became decidedly multi-ethnic. The Mizo language service had begun.
Now some people will immediately say, “What difference does it make that a quiet, medium sized church that few people in the world have ever heard have has become multi-ethnic?”
In fact, what I think is an enormous move of God, is down played by the young men I meet with from our church every Friday for breakfast. They say, “Why wouldn’t our church be diverse, Pastor John? Our workplace is diverse. Our kid’s school is diverse. Our neighborhoods are diverse. Why do you think anyone cares that the church is diverse?”
I suppose I’m excited because the church of Jesus Christ in North America tends to be one of the most segregated institutions on the planet. And we can’t really explain why. Churches often don’t even reflect the racial diversity of their own neighborhoods. Frequently, churches are enclaves. The last bastions of those who used to live in the neighborhood and now drive in from other parts of town to continue a habit of worship begun decades before.
But Zion is trending in the opposite direction. As more Asian and African immigrants move into our neighborhood, we’re becoming more African and Asian. And, it seems to me, the more we do this, the more our traditional caucasian membership seems to grow as well. Could it be that people want to their church to be more a reflection of the kingdom of heaven after all?
Recently, I was told that a certain pastor had asked some of our African families to leave Zion and join a church especially forming for African immigrants. I was told that one of our Liberian ladies told this pastor, “But we like it here. Why would we leave? This is our church.” Whenever I think of this exchange, I cry. I can’t help it. It means so much that Zion could become a home for people from across the globe. It means the world to me that we could reflect the diversity of our own neighborhood. It means that our apparent divisions aren’t dividing us, but rather they are uniting us in Christ Jesus. And I can’t wait each week until we’re together again on Wednesdays and Sundays.
My prayer is that we will continue follow God down this path he has set for us. That we will be faithful to his Word, and, more and more, reflect the amazing diversity of the kingdom of God. Thanks for reading. God bless you. PJ