Multiethnic Culture and Biblical Preaching

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Although it has been a number of months, we continue in our series on biblical preaching (in partnership with The Gospel Project). We have asked some teachers, preachers, and scholars to consider preaching, interact with it, and contrast some different approaches.
Today, we welcome Pastor Bryan Loritts. Bryan serves Lead Pastor at the Abundant Life Christian Fellowship of Silicon Valley, California. He is an award-winning author of six books, including his newest release Insider Outsider. He co-founded Fellowship Memphis in 2003, and later founded The Kainos Movement, an organization committed to seeing the multi-ethnic church become the new normal in our world.

Read previous posts by Kyle IdlemanEric GeigerH.B. Charles, Jr.J.D. GreearChip HendersonJason Allen, and Rochelle Scheuermann.


Ray Charles was music’s triathlete. If Ray played baseball, he’d be your consummate utility player. From gospel to R&B and even country, Ray Charles defied labels. In fact, it was his unique ability to sing so many different genres that made his concerts so multiethnic. Whatever you needed Ray to be he was, without losing his unique self in the process.

The Apostle Paul was to preaching what Ray Charles was to music. Paul could walk into any synagogue, unfold the scroll, and preach the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ to Jews with such effectiveness that they were moved to either salvation or riots.

Moments later, Paul could be found in a Gentile environment like Mars Hill, quoting from their own poets, and using their own altars to make what Charles Spurgeon called his “bee-line to the cross.” I’ve often coveted this aspect of Paul’s ministry, pleading with God to allow me to preach a gospel big enough for First Presbyterian and First AME.

What was birthed out of Paul’s “Crossover Preaching” (to quote my friend Jared Alcantara), was the multiethnic church. That’s right, most of the churches Paul planted were multiethnic.

Our Kairotic Moment

I write these words as a black man who is indebted deeply to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the leaders of the civil rights movement. Because of their sacrifice I am able to sit on any seat of the bus I like, sleep in any hotel and send my children to integrated public schools.

Our forty-fourth president, Barack Obama, does not ascend to the highest office in the land without the army of those who endured biting dogs, billy clubs, and bombings in faraway places like Birmingham and Selma, Alabama. I am beyond grateful.

And yet the great insufficiency of the civil rights movement is while they could change laws, they could never change hearts. That is beyond the pay grade of any human, and belongs solely to the work of the Holy Spirit, pulsating through the ministry of another institution God has ordained—the local church.

If we have any hope of advancing the trail blazed by Jesus and furthered by the many pastors and Christian leaders of the civil rights movement, there must be a robust commitment to the multiethnic church.

These are divided times, the most divisive of my life. Black bodies riddled with bullets from police officers, the brown bodies of young immigrant boys and girls trapped in cages and segregated from their parents to the exploitation of women at the hands of powerful men, calls for the emergence of the true local church where insiders and outsiders, powerful with powerless, raise hands across the ethnic and sociological divide in praise to our glorious King.

Yet we have no hope of constructing what Dr. Scot McKnight calls “The Fellowship of Differents” without our pulpits being stocked with homiletical Ray Charles’— people whose preaching continues the lineage of Paul and is able to stretch across the divide.

This is our kairotic moment.

Unfortunately, too many of our preachers are like the African American country music singer Darius Rucker—amazingly talented and tragically marginalized. We need preachers who can do more than proclaim “country,” or just “R&B.” We need preachers whose hermeneutics and homiletics transgress ethnic and sociological boundaries.

Click here to read more.

SOURCE: Christianity Today, Brian Loritts