Where do Christians meet the people they choose to hang out with outside of church? Where did you meet the friends you will be watching the Super Bowl with? What about the group you regularly have over for dinner on Friday nights?
For most Christians, the answer is more than likely church, according to Mark DeYmaz, the founding pastor of the multi-ethnic Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas and founder of Mosaix Global Network, a ministry resource group. DeYmaz suggests that this tendency means that there are good odds that you will be hanging out with individuals of the same race as yours.
“Ninety-two and half percent of churches are segregated along racial lines [which means] the predominant friendships people have is with people who are like them,” DeYmaz told The Christian Post recently.
Why is that troubling for DeYmaz?
“The problem is that when we don’t have real relationships cross-culturally, we’re not then in tune with the varying problems [and] concerns that affect different cultures…And if we’re not in touch with people personally or get to know their issues, their problems or their concerns, we’re not heavily motivated to invest time, our talent, or our efforts, in bringing change to those systemic issues and therefore the system is perpetuated in society,” said DeYmaz, who added that the foundation of his arguments stemmed from his book, Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America.
DeYmaz says that without congregations working to intentionally integrate, it means that the “local church is the primary perpetrator of the system.”
To challenge this predicament, DeYmaz and Oneya Fennell Okuwobi recently developed The Multi-ethnic Christian Life Primer, a devotion and small group workbook that aims to “teach diverse believers how to walk, work and worship God together as one in the local church for the sake of the Gospel.”
Okuwobi, the Director at Transcend Culture, an organization which resources to Multi-ethnic churches, began developing multiethnic curriculum for her church a decade ago after her pastor decided he wanted to focus on helping his “98 percent white, commuter church” become more multi-ethnic.
“We took our entire church through it and let me just tell you it was life-changing for many of our members. A lot of people who probably would not have stayed through all the changes that happened really did hang in with us because they were able to relate life for life and understand the stories of other people,” Okuwobi told CP.
She collaborated with DeYmaz last year to do their second revision of the material. In its current online form, (they hope to turn to create a print version as well,) the study lasts for eight weeks and is meant as a tool where Christians can have conversations among each other about personal and societal racial and economic disparities.
DeYmaz said the primer was unique in that it did not only target Christian leaders or “raise awareness.” His role in it was to “strengthen it with theological underpinnings of the movement and the church,” or add verses and verses of Scriptural support for the book’s message.
For the study to have its full effect, Okuwobi said she believed it was necessary to have “diverse folks in the room.”
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SOURCE: Christian Post