One of the great joys I’ve had as a pastor and a leader is learning from other pastors and leaders. That learning has taken place in a multitude of ways. I’ve learned from men who differ from me in theology and practice and I’ve learned from those who differ in philosophy and culture. The friends the Lord has graciously gifted to me over these past 10 years are staggering and I’m grateful for each and every one of them. No where have I learned more than when I am with men of a different ethnicity who share the same doctrinal understandings that I do.
When I have sat down and had a meal or a cup of coffee with Eric Mason in Philadelphia, Doug Logan in Camden, Bryan Loritts in Memphis, Bryan Carter in Dallas, Leonce Crump in Atlanta, or Lorenzo Elizondo in Oak Cliff, I find the Spirit of God churning my heart to see more of his glory in and through a bold ethnic harmony that reveals God’s glory and the power of the gospel in a visual and captivating way. My third hope for Acts 29 is that we might boldly and unapologetically become a radically diverse crowd over the next few years.
Why? Ethnic harmony/diversity is core to being explicitly Christian. The scriptures would teach that there are two races, the race of the first Adam and the race of the second. It’s only in Christ that we are able to find our core identity. Our different cultures carry history, traditions and legacies but the gospel transcends all that and makes us a new people, a family. We continue to value what is good and right in our cultures but submit gladly to the new family as adopted sons and co-heirs of Christ.
The cross of Calvary isn’t theoretical — it changes how we view ourselves and others. It alone can heal wounds and create brotherly affections and direction. It destroys the walls of hostility. Producing homogenous churches can be done with relative ease and a total lack of dependence on the Spirit. That’s not what I’m hopeful for. The production of diverse churches and ultimately a diverse network, that is not simply an assembly of multi-raced but assimilated people’s, can only be done through God’s grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. This is what my heart is hungry for. I’m praying the Spirit of God would guide our steps as we seek to better display his love for all man.
This hope is grounded in the biblical conviction that we are responsible neither to retreat from our culture nor to conform to it, but with humility, through the Spirit and the truth of the gospel, to engage it boldly as we seek its transformation and submission to the lordship of Christ. In order to make Christ known through the gospel to all nations, we are called to look beyond our own community to the neighborhood, the nation, and the world as a whole. This conviction is laid out in the 5th of our five Doctrinal Distinctives.