Why Diversity Matters!


Okay. Well, this is the format that we'll be following today if you want to keep notes. There's gonna be three I'm gonna get at this. We're gonna talk about a case for it. All right? I think that most of us will probably already agree that is important, but we're gonna look at the scriptures regarding it. It's not gonna be an exhaustive list, but it's gonna be a list that has been important to me. We're gonna talk a little bit about the cost of getting wrong and look at that a little bit, and then the condition. How do you create the conditions for a church that is welcoming for the end goal of having a church that reflects more of a revelation semi-community. Amen?

All right. So, let's go ahead and pray to the Lord for some help first. Gracious Father, I think you so much for your love, for people that were alienated from you. Lord, you prove your love to us, God, by going to such great measures to demonstrate it, that while we are yet sinners, you shed your blood for us. Thank you, Lord. That is the joy that we sit in today. That is the joy that we experience together as brothers and sisters with brothers and sisters literally all across the world of different tribes and nations, and we long for the day where it's from every tribe and nation. Lord, would you bless our time right now as we think and talk more about you? In the name of Christ, our savior and master, amen.

All right. So, diversity. So, there is different types of diversity, certainly. I'm gonna be primarily referring to racial diversity. We have some other representations of diversity in the room right now, and please feel free to chime in. We'd love to know a bit more about what you're doing. Was it [inaudible 00:01:59]? Yep. But right now, I'm gonna be primarily talking about diversity. The name of the class is Why Is Diversity Important, okay? I'm gonna just define diversity as referring ... I'm referring to gospel-centered visible reconciliation. Gospel-centered visible reconciliation. There's something about the gospel. There's something about the stuff of Christianity that is to display reconciliation because that's exactly what has happened in our life, and so let's go ahead and start looking at a case for diversity or for visible reconciliation.

The first case I want to point us to is the case of alienation. Alienation. When you look at Colossians chapter one, verse 21 through 23, Paul says this. "Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior," he's talking to the Gentiles, "But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight without blemish and free from accusation. Listen, Gentile. You were once alienated from God. You were alienated from His promises. You were alienated from the covenantal goodness that only applied to a particular people." He said, "Now you are free from accusation because of what Jesus accomplished through his own body." That's a beautiful pictures of one, the condition that we were in, and it makes a mockery of the gospel when we reject someone or deny someone because they are alien from us. This gives us an invitation to lean on the theological depth of Christianity to say that, "Wait a minute. Lord, you drew me near as a Gentile, and now you have drew me near to you." Praise the Lord for that.

The second thing I want to look at is homogenization. Homogenization. If I don't spell this right, that's okay. We're gonna go with that. That's all right. No, I'm a perfectionist. All right. Okay. Homogenization. Homogenization, we're talking about this issue kind of like what you talked about. It's a very complex issue, diversity and a homogeny of people, one represented group in the church. I argue from scripture, when you look at a scripture and you look at the whole of the text it was never God's intention for the church to look just one way. It was never God's intent for the church to be made up of just one people.

Now, before I go onto this, let me just make this statement here. Is it wrong for a church to have one dominant ethnicity? No. So, how can I say what I just said and not contradict myself? When you have a church made up of one ethnicity because of circumstance, that's one thing, but when you have a church that's made up of one ethnicity because they are practicing certain things that's gonna actually be keeping people out, that's another thing. So, you can actually be a church in the middle of Rwanda where you have ethnic tensions between tribes, but the church that plants amongst Rwandans that is of one ethnicity, you don't plant the church just for the ethnicity. You plant the church with a hopeful expectation that this group over here is gonna come over here, and not just that. I'm gonna do things that's gonna make it welcoming for this person. I'm not just gonna plant this church just for this group. I'm gonna talk a little bit more about that and some of my frustration with that.

I think about who Jesus had in his own cap. We do remember a gentleman by the name of Simon the Zealot, don't we? He was one of the original 12 disciples of Jesus. Now, a zealot. Somebody tell me what is a zealot. What is a zealot, a Jewish zealot? Yes. He's a political activist. Jesus had some Black Panthers in his spot. He had maybe an alt right person in his spot. Jesus had a person who believed that you take Israel back by a strong hand, or with a strong hand. You cut down the traitor. It was really odd I'm pretty at dinner tables when you had Simon the Zealot looking over at Matthew and say, "Oh, okay. You changed now, huh? Oh, you're a Christian now, huh? You with Jesus? Okay." You couldn't have anymore polar social opposites, but this is who Jesus calls. He calls them out.

Now, he didn't call them to remain the same. He transformed their life over three years. It still took them even to the point of his ascension in Acts 1:6 where they ask the question, "Jesus, when will you return the kingdom back to its proper state?" It's like you still don't get it, one, and two, it's not for you to know that. I imagine that when Simon is having conversations with Jesus, come on, Jesus. Let's do this. What are we doing? There's something about just simply having a Jewish state with one ethnicity that is not impressive to Jesus. There's something about having just one ethnicity just gonna be representing God that's not impressive to Jesus. It does not make the vision of Jesus.

When you look at Mark 1:14, you look at Jesus proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, the good news of the kingdom. When Jesus comes, he's ushering in a whole new society. The world at that point had seen the ancient Chaldeans. They had seen the ancient Babylonians. They had seen the ancient Persians, the Syrians, the Syrians, the Greeks. They had also seen the Romans now, and certainly their own amongst the Israelites, but the society in which Jesus is ushering in is fundamentally different than any other society that has ever existed. Why? Because it is the kingdom of God. It is the society of God, and so this society is made up of more than just one ethnicity, and you also see even this zealot commissioned in Matthew 28.

As Jesus is giving and commissioning them to go forth, He's telling this zealot that was specifically, and certainly this is reflective of most of the disciples, but specifically in the ears of Simon the Zealot saying that, "Listen. You are going to go to the Roman. I want you to go to the Greek. I want you to go to all the peoples o the world and make them disciples of me." Wow. So, the person that used to have hate in their heart and only one representation says, "No, that is not my kingdom. That is not my society."

The fourth one, revelations. This certainly builds on what we've already been saying, but there is a revelation here. Yeah, okay. There is a revelation here that the Lord has for His church that He wants His church to live out. Ephesians 3:1-10, let me read this for us. "For this reason, I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles and me, surely you have heard about the administration of God's grace that was given to me for you. That is the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. In reading this, then you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the spirit of God's holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel, the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body and sharers together in the promise in Jesus Christ."

"I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God's grace given me through the working of His power. Although I am less than the least of all the Lord's people, this grace was given me to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God who created all things. His intent was that now through the church the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms." This is one of my favorite texts. Revelation is that this is a mystery. There's something about God's wonderful work and glorious work with reconciling people together. It was a mystery that prophets did not know in the past. It was a mystery that God had seeped out here and there through Old Testament text, but it was a mystery that will be fully realized and revealed in Acts in the first century.

We have a responsibility because, what, it was God's intent that this is known. It is God's intent that is known that God reconciled the two together. Why? To make his manifold wisdom known to an onlooking universe. There's a universe looking on this thing and peering in and seeing, oh wow, you actually had a plan for all people and not just one, so we can't just try to wipe out one people. We have to do everyone. They're all over. It's just like water and oxygen and air. It's all around us. The local church has a wonderful opportunity to display this. The way I often define the gospel, not original to me, is that the gospel, the church, excuse me, is the gospel made visible where people were actually seeing the texture of God's love and the texture of His vision been revealed through the local church. That's an opportunity the Lord has made before us, and you have a togetherlyness, if you will, that assumes that the Gentile is together with the Jew, right, but even moreso it will certainly follow that the Gentile is together with the Gentile. Amen? I mean, this assumes this.

And then lastly, glorification. I mean by glorification as our state and us in our glorified state. Revelations seven, verse nine, "After this, I looked and behold a great multitude that no one could number from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the lamb clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hand." John sees the beatific vision of what the church is going to look like. He looks at this and says that, "Listen. Look at this proximity. These are people from all places in the world, and they are what? They are standing together. The Africans are not in Africa. The Europeans are not in Europe. The Asians are not in Asia. No. They are standing altogether wearing the same wardrobe." They all got the same clothes on. They're all wearing black shirts, blue jeans, and black boots. No, they're all wearing white robes. 

That's what heaven is going to be like. God has [inaudible 00:14:37] his kingdom now. The church is evidence of a grace of what is to come. That is just scratching the surface for a theological argument as to why this is important. Diversity is important. What we're gonna go into a little later is how do we ground this, because it is certainly true of the universal church. This is true to the universal church. How do you make this, or how do you connect it to the local church, and the argument there obviously on the onset is that this is a reflection at the local level. The gospel is a reflection at the local level where people get to see what God's plan is at the universal level. Does that make sense?

Yeah. So, this is a universal truth. This is a universal church, and we exist universally. How do you ground it locally? And the argument on the onset is that it is grounded locally because the local church is the visible representation of a universal reality. Right? So, if you have a church in the middle of Iowa where the population is 90% white and you have maybe five percent, well, you'd have to have 10% non-white, 10% non-white, you plant the church for believers, I mean the seed for future believers and converts. You don't plant the church for 90% white people. You just plant the church.

This is the model that Paul works with. Paul goes and plant churches. That's what he does. He works with what he has. He doesn't care who's there. He starts with the Jews first and then whoever else comes. This is why, and let me just say it right now, I detest the ideal of an affinity group. Right? I love what my brother said right here. Tell us what you do. Where do you pastor at? What church are you at?

Speaker 2: I pastor at Gospel Community Church. It was planted originally for deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals, but that the catalyst to a big group of diversity.

James: What led to that?

Speaker 2: 26 years of interpreting for the deaf community.

James: Yeah. You said something. You said that ... Now, I think this is a language issue, so language is ... We're talking about something different here with language, and that's a language issue, but I was stunned when you said that, "But we wanted to do ... We didn't want to just do one ... We want to do ..." Can you talk about that a little bit? You was talking to my wife. You said that you didn't want to just plant a church just for-

Speaker 2: Specifically just for dead individuals.

James: Yeah.

Speaker 2: Yeah.

James: Talk about that a little bit.

Speaker 2: The deaf church at large has planted for itself constantly. It has become an ethnocentric club that values their identity as deafness larger than it identifies their identity in Christ, and so what we see is people getting together and exalting and glorifying their identity as deaf individuals in deaf history and deaf culture, and so we had to step through Romans 15, which tells us that God has no preference over Jew or Greek, that there is one lord, that we are united under one flag and it's Christ, and so though we planted specifically for that affinity group, what we quickly learned was that our identity in Christ guides us to individuals that are totally different from us. [crosstalk 00:18:05]

James: Yeah. And so, since then it has expanded to other languages?

Speaker 2: 26 different diagnoses, and then it's a mixture of white people, African-Americans, Asians, old individuals, younger individuals, and it's a cross section of the place that we're in. Deafness doesn't discriminate with skin color, so automatically we were diverse if you looked at us by any other picture, but the flag that they united under was deafness, and so you could walk in as an African-American man and walk in and they never saw that, but if you were hearing it'd be like there's a distance in arm, and so the same things that we see with skin color would divide them, we saw with ... They would judge them.

James: Yeah. Yeah. I see. I see. Very good. Very good. Yeah, thank you so much for sharing that. It's very encouraging. As a church planter, we're gonna be planting a church in Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country. We're going there because this issue is so important to us, and a lot of the social upheavals that are happening in the country and a lot of the stress happening in the country is coming right out of Oakland, California, coming right out of the East Bay, coming right out of Berkeley, and so we want to be right there in the midst of it, and it's very diverse city, but just because it's diverse doesn't mean this is integrated, and so we want to hopefully be a display of God's manifold wisdom in the city of Oakland, but when the question is posed to me, "James, what is your affinity group? Who are you planting? Who are you planting for?" I'm planting a church, y'all. I'm for lost people. That's my affinity group. Amen. That's what I'm doing.

And so, I do believe that some of our church network, our church-planting organizations have to change their mind about this and kind of get out of that mindset because that's how we end up with a church that looks like us, and sometimes it's just the fall of the dice, but when you have already philosophy set in and built in that would already kind of keep other people out and attract people that is like you in your affinity group, then we wonder why we have such a huge issue in America regarding this, and so it's going to be a challenge for me. It's going to be a challenge for me, this inner-city brother that grew up in the African-American context trying to appeal to all peoples. Okay? It's not easy.

All right. So, let's talk about the call for this. I like what the famous author James Baldwin says regarding the burden of racial tension, diversity, some of these issues that we find so important. He says that we are capable of bearing a great burden once we discover that the burden is reality and arrive where reality is. The burden that we have a church in America today is reality. We struggle often with reality, and what we have to do is get to where reality is. That's our responsibility. Well, what is reality? What's the reality that we're referring to?

I just heard yesterday from a pastor, Pastor Robert Morris, I don't know his teachings, so I'm not vouching for him, but I just heard from a brother from Dallas, Texas. He says that he knows that the problem is the church. The problem with a lot of the racial issues in our country is the church, not the world. Now, that is embarrassing. It's a shock to me. It's an indictment against me and anyone who's Christian. It doesn't discriminate. Trust me. Black folk look at me strange when they're not Christian and say, "Why are you a Christian? Why are you serving that Jesus?" We all are in this together, and so goes the reputation of the church, so goes us all.

[Borner 00:22:13] just released something, released a study regarding people's opinions about racial reconciliation. Borner said that Christian churches play an important role in racial reconciliation. He says as a result of the study. He says that in this view and looking at whites and blacks, well, we know that it's not just whites and blacks that exist, obviously, but in looking at ... I suppose that people typically think that these are the polar opposites and then you have that in between, and looking at this issue, you have 75% of whites believe that the church plays an important role in racial reconciliation, and then you have 77% of blacks that believe that the church plays an important role in racial reconciliation.

Well, that's a pretty high percentage, and that's pretty close, and that's another thing. That's right. That's right. How do we get there, is the question. How do we get there, and why is this so hard? I think, brothers, sisters, that this is so hard because we fundamentally, we start at different places. Sometimes we're asking different questions about life. We have different narratives, different histories that we carry around within us, different fears. One thing that we do know is that we also ... I mean, it's not just embracing difference. We have embraced sameness. We're same in so many ways. In all the most significant ways, we're the same, but it's that small percentage of difference that makes all the difference. I saw the pastor do this. This is so good. Now, I want you to see that ... What's the name of this? Who makes this?

Speaker 3: Kirkland?

James: Kirkland, okay. Everybody assume that you just know it's Kirkland. You see this. All right. What's the name on this bottle?

Class Members: Kirkland.

James: Kirkland, all right. You do understand that I don't see Kirkland right now, right? Often, this is how the conversation goes within the church on this issue. You have one population of people that sees this, and you have another population of people that see the other side, and they don't see this side. What's the solution? The solution is for us to come around to the other side and say, "Okay. What is it that you're seeing? How is it that you're doing this? What happened? Tell me why do you feel what you feel," and I have an obligation as an African-American to ask the same question. Tell me, why is it that when you look at this issue you don't see this? What's your take on it? And so, that's where true dialogue can happen, and I think the start of reconciliation.

Let's look at some specifics, and first let's categorize church diversity, different categories of church diversity. In this, you may be able to see, okay, I think is where my church is as it pertains to church diversity, and then we have an ideal area of where we hope the churches can be as we think it is the goal of the gospel. Okay. So, the first one is the ... We can say this. I think I got this right. Yeah, so the Americanizing congregation. Okay. The Americanizing ... Is that right? Yeah, it's right. Congregation. All right? So, what you should also know is that Sojourn Midtown has been on a journey. It's been on a journey to diversify. It's one of the deep passions of Daniel Montgomery, and it's also a deep passion of Pastor Jamaal Williams. Pastor Jamaal Williams was the pastor of Forest Baptist Church, a predominantly black church, and so he joined them in that effort.

This is Sojourn before Pastor Jamaal, before these convictions had come. This is defined by newcomers are welcome, but they are expected to adapt to the language and culture of the dominant group. Consequently, the church staff need not gain special language and intercultural communication skills. Newcomers, however, do not feel welcome and experience alienation. So essentially, people are welcome, you want people to come, but there's little to no effort to actually help with language gaps, with cultural gaps. It's simply expected that the person adopts. Okay?

Two, you have the personal ethnic congregation. The C is congregation of church. Okay. The personal ethnic congregation is defined by this. It's the church congregation is served in its particular cultural context and language. Leadership and church staff reflects the culture of the congregation and people from other cultural groups do not participate in the church for the most part. Okay? So, this is your specifically-defined ethnic churches. This is your African-American church, traditional African-American church. This is your Taiwanese church or your first-generation Chinese-American church. Right? And so, that's the personal ethnic congregation.

Three, you have the inclusive congregation. So, let me say this, though, about the personal ethnic congregation. If this, number two, falls in the dangers and trappings of the Americanizing congregation, then it can very well be the personal ethnic church, and what this says is sometimes it is ... We've talked about this before on social media outlets, that we assume that a predominant culture is not a culture. A predominant culture is a culture, and so there are different values, different tastes, things like that, and so as much as that is strong and prevalent, it may actually fall into this category, or come off as this category.

All right. So, now you have the inclusive congregation. So, what's the inclusive congregation? This is Sojourn in 2016. Pastor Jamaal was hired on now. Newcomers are welcome, and some measure of accommodation is exercised regarding the music, cultural traditions, and celebrations of the minority group. Okay? So, this is a further step into becoming a more integrated diverse church. It's done specifically through a means of grace that is culturally defined, music, maybe pastors coming and hearing from other pastors, and then there's some effort to celebrate that particular minority group. You have the segmented congregation. I spelled it wrong. I'm getting lazier. This is a congregation that becomes one of parallel communities, each of which has its own staff. This is ... You know what? We have different churches meeting in the same building and they're distinct by their own cultures. Okay? All right?

Five, you have the mission outreach congregation. This is the church that is very sensitive to making sure that they serve the people within their parish, within their communities, and that community may be made up of an ethnic group or a culture that is different than that which is in the church. I feel like I could say that much simpler. Basically, the people around them is different than the body of their congregation. So for instance, you have a Sojourn that was predominantly white. They're in an area of the city that is predominantly black, and then you have Great Mercy ministry efforts to serve the people within the community. However, it's not translating to people coming into the church and becoming integrated into the church.

Then you have finally the integrated church. The integrated church, I think we see this in Acts six, and this is Sojourn's goal. Right? So, it's defined by this. All cultural groups are [inaudible 00:31:48] and suitably served. There will be residual resentment on the part of the various groups, and some groups will need help embracing such integration. It's messy. It's messy. This is the hard stuff. This is Acts chapter six all the way. Did you notice that within Acts chapter six, there was no church for this person, this group? It was just a church in Jerusalem, and you had the Greeks speaking, even amongst languages. This is interesting to me because I'm wondering, I'm playing with this thing in my mind. What does that even mean? What are the implications of that, that you have Greek-speaking Jews in the same congregation as Hebrew-speaking Jews, yet they're a part of the same church? Very, very interesting.

It makes sense to me that if you have different languages, you just have a different congregation. Well, they didn't actually come to that conclusions. They said, "No. You just put them all together," and we're talking about 3,000. Work that out. But you have this in Acts six. You have the Greek-speaking widows being passed over with the daily distribution. It's very interesting also have they resolve this problem. How do they resolve the problem? They appoint people from among them that would actually address this particular situation. So, they weren't afraid to tell people that, "Listen. It makes more sense." Now, they did do this. What makes sense within this church? The solution for them was not to plant a different church. The solution for them was to ask the question, to ask the hard question, what makes sense?

They said that it makes sense for us to appoint some deacons, specifically deacons that are more reflective of their needs. Right? Maybe they're bilingual. Most of them were. Maybe they can pay specific attention to this group of people. I'm not sure what implications that has for us in our church planting models, but there's certainly something there.

Okay. So, let's talk about the conditions. All right? Here are the different categories. Where does your church fall into that? Where do you desire to be? I think my prayer is to be here, and this is hard. I just listened to a talk from an Asian pastor by the name of Dr. Jonathon Yon, I believe his name is. Very fascinating when he talks about some of the difficulties, even amongst Asian-American churches. It's very complex. I engaged with him, asked him questions about the diversity, and when you look and peer in, because it's worth ... I mean, we should be. We should have questions about the African-American church and our Asian brothers and sisters, and specifically that are a part of Asian-American congregations or Asian congregations, or African churches.

What's going on? Why? Because we are a part of the same ... We're Christians. We're part of the same body. It's very interesting when you look at ... He talks about the divide between Eastern Asians and Southeast Asians. He talks about the divide with the Eastern Asians, which is Koreans, Chinese, Japanese, there may be more in Eastern Asia there, that in our society they may be considered honorary whites, and so often you can see, in a congregation you can have Asians and whites together, but he talks about in his heart is he wants to see more Asian congregations working together and diversifying more, but there is a particular social aspect there and a particular social way that they may relate to one another.

Now, this is fascinating for me because these are issues that are going on in our country or in our world that is just not a black-and-white problem. Right? And he talks about this is messy. This is hard. He even said at one point, "I'm not sure how to do this, and I've been studying this for years." There's only one way to do this, guys. You know why we talk about this the way we do? Because we want to know an easy way to do it, to do this neatly. There is none. That's the point of this class. There's only one way, and that way is get your hands dirty, integrate. People are gonna get mad, and your congregation's gonna put amazing pressure on you, but it's governed by love, and we'll talk a little bit more about that in a second.

All right. So, let me just say this. I think it'd be helpful just as an African-American or as a minority in a majority context, I want to express to you why I attended predominantly white churches. Okay? And then we're gonna get into some specific steps you can take to diversify your church more. Okay. So, I looked back at my life. I've been a believer for about 20 years now, and so looking back at my life and all the churches that I've been a part of, been a member of, we've lived in almost every region of the country in these 20 years. I've been a member of four black churches, three white churches, which the leadership was white and it was predominantly white, and then I would say six ethnically-diverse churches, six ethnically.

Now, of that you have four that were white pastors. One was an Asian pastor, a Chinese-American pastor, and then the other was an African-American pastor, and I will say that they had a significant amount of diversity within their church, but I wanted to zero in. Why did I go to white churches or churches led by whites where I was the minority? Why did I do that? Okay. Let's look at five reasons as to why I did that.

One, they had Stephens and Philips and Prochoruses and Nicanor and Timons and Parmenases. You know who that is? Those are seven deacons in Acts six. They had that element in the church. When I walked into the church, there were people that looked like they cared for me. They understood that they had to fill a gap because there was a gap for me. When I walked in, I know that we have a connection because we are Christians, and sometimes we have an even greater connection because we are doctrinally aligned, but there is something else as a minority that I need, and I need you to help me to bridge that gap. We're culturally different, or we're ethnically different rather, and so these are people that pay close attention and say that, "Listen. I know that you are different." They don't say it. They do it with making sure they make eye contact, that they rush over to me. They say, "Hey. How you doing? I'm glad that you are here. You need anything, let me know. God bless you, bro."

So, we'll just call this Acts six. Two, they cared about social issues. They cared about social issues. All right. This is a huge divide in our church, right? Churches take sides along political lines. If we want to ever have any hope of reaching this, we all obviously have to stop doing this, and we also have to stop being afraid to talk about social issues if the scripture or the text demands it, or the prophetic voice at the moment demands it, all right, which I don't think that's very often, but I think that it does happen, that where we have to speak about something that happens in society. All right? My voice and how I do that is not dictated by people yelling at me and saying, "Hey, man, you need to start talking about this more." I talk about it as I feel led, but there are key events that I feel like I need to talk about, so I think that's a conscious issue. Okay?

But if we have any hope of doing this, we cannot be afraid to talk about important issues because we believe that it's going to align us with other political factions. Side note, Matthew 25. Let me give you some resources from Matthew 25. Listen to Jesus' words here, and I'll wrap up because I want to do a conversation here. So, "The sheep and the goats," okay? This is what Matthew 25, 31, and the following is about. "When the son of man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right," excuse me, "And the goats on his left."

Okay, Brother Preacher, why are you talking about this? What does this have to do with diversity? What does it have to do with these social issues? Watch this. Verse 34, "Then the king will say to those on His right, 'Come, you who are blessed by the Father,' take your heritage. The kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world." 35, "For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink. I was a stranger and you invited me in. I needed clothes, and you clothed me. I was sick, and you looked after me. I was in prison, and you came to visit me. Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and fed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in or needing clothes and clothed you? When did we see you sick or in prison or go to visit you?'" Right? These are good questions.

Verse 40, "The king will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'" These are social issues, guys. Prostitution, human trafficking, poor, racism, problems that our country faces at the social ground level. When you serve those issues, our lord, our master says you're serving Him. We're not talking about left or right politically. We're talking about our what our lord entrusts us.

So, they cared about it somehow. It came out somehow. Right? They said it in a sermon. They said it in an illustration. Maybe I wasn't there on that particular Sunday, but somewhere when I'm in there sermons or on their Facebook or on their church or in there looking at their values, they care. That tells me that, okay, I think I can be accepted there. All right? Because this is so important to, just FYI, to African-Americans and Latino populations because so many of us are from lower socioeconomic groups. That's why it's so important to us. Okay? Because we live in those realities.

Okay. Three, the pastor and leaders gave personal touch. The leaders themself gave personal touch. I love the Leviticus 19:34. "The stranger who resides with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself for you were aliens in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord, your God." Essentially, what I'm saying is that it's the same as the first one. I'm just not writing anything down. Cared socially or about social issues, but also three, the leaders cared. It's so important. We love to see it from the body, from the deacons, which are leaders as well, but for the pastors to do it, it goes volumes.

I've been at churches ... I became a member of a church at a church where the church was really ... They saw me as a threat. Why did they see me as a threat? Because they saw me as a threat to what the pastor wanted, which was to change what they found comfortable. So, every time you have an additional or another minority come, it's like things are changing, shaking up. When Pastor Jamaal did this in the African-American church, it had the same exact effect. Right? It's not a white thing. It's a human thing. All right? But when the leaders do it, I was able to stay with the leader despite the church's feeling about it. Now, it takes a lot to do that. You need your people onboard with you, or as many people as possible, but a leader makes all the difference.

All right. Also, they quoted from non-Euro Christian sources in their sermons. People listen to ... Your members, they listen to this. They hear it. Okay? All right. They use non-Euro sources. That doesn't mean don't use Euro sources. What that means is that they're telling me that they are appreciating and drawing from a well that's not necessarily just a reformation. Right? The Lord moved mightily throughout the continents. The reformation was one of those beautiful movements of the Lord, but you had the beautiful movements along obviously North Africa in the beginning of the church. I mean, you have beautiful movements even right now in Southeast Asia in what the Lord is doing, and you're drawing from a deep well, theological well. We pick up on that. It stands out in that sermon, and it's not like, "Hey, listen. I got a quote here from a black guy. He's a white guy. Listen." No, no, no. It's subtle. It's just an illustration, and you quote the source and we do the rest of the work, like, "Man, did you hear him quote? Quoted my boy Augustus. All right. Quoted my boy Arthur Beatty."

All right. And also, they're more Godly than cool, especially African-Americans coming from a reformed tradition, coming into a reformed tradition. Most African-Americans coming out of a church, African-Americans are still labeled the most religious group in this country, which is why you're gonna have people who talk about righteous stuff on songs and get up and accept the Word and say, "Thank you, Jesus, for this." Jesus ain't got nothing to do with that. But holiness is something that is ... Godliness is something that's important to us, so this give you the freedom to be Christian, be yourself.

I've been in situations where I've been a member of a church where the pastor tried to be cool, and he's a cool guy. He's a cool guy. Our coolness may be different to how we define cool, but he's a cool guy. I mean, I would follow him. But that's not what I wanted from him. You ain't gotta speak the lingo. Most of the stuff they're talking to, I don't even speak the lingo. I've gotta catch up with the Millennials. Millennials, help me out. Jeff Brown was here earlier. He hold me down. He keep teaching me all the new stuff. No. I just want to know, are you a Godly pastor? Are you a Christian? And I can go with that. Okay? Those are the reasons that I went to these churches, and those are the things that attracted me to predominantly white churches. That's exactly why I'm at Sojourn, because they had a heart. They wanted to do something. They wanted to change.

I'm gonna tell you right now. When I was here initially for seminary at Southern Seminary, I wasn't a member at Sojourn. I love their music. I mean, I listen to the music. I [inaudible 00:48:24] to the music. It was so transformative in my life, but I didn't join the church. I joined the church that actually had in their tagline that they were building a church of all cultures where Christ is king. That was their tagline. I mean, I'm gonna go there, but just been vulnerable. Now, look. I have this resource here. Let me just open up for some conversation right now. These final five things that you can actually read here, I want you to be sure to pick this up. This is the process that we went through at Sojourn Community Church and getting our church to a more integrated diverse church, but let's see if we have some conversations right now. Any questions, comments, concerns?