Multicultural Discipleship

RESEARCH METHODOLOGY

The way I proceeded with the research was to do some congregational observation, conduct initial interviews, and consult scholarly literature on the primary topics of Discipleship, Congregational Multiculturalism/Diversity, Pneumatology(Holy Spirit), Prayer and Biblical Interpretation among others. The literature consultation began with the topics of prayer and biblical interpretation, but I soon became aware of the need to address the multicultural nature of our congregation. Eventually, this became the focus of my research as I sought to understand how best to make disciples of Jesus Christ people who neither have the same definition of “disciple” nor share a common understanding of how to practice their Christian faith. I concluded with another round of interviews.

SUMMARY AND FINDINGS

Based on my experience pastoring The Way and the relevant literature I have reviewed in my research, I have arrived at the conclusion that the primary focus of any congregation should be discipleship, both individual and communal.[1] This is even more crucial for a congregation with different cultural representations, some of which will clash at times. In such a congregation, Christ must be the center and people must be afforded the privilege of praying, praising and proclaiming their faith the best way they know how even as they are taught to grow and expand their experience of God. To do this well, it is important to be aware that individual discipleship, on the one hand, is cultivated primarily through Prayer and engagement with the Bible while communal discipleship, on the other hand, is cultivated by means of Holy Spirit-inspired and Christ-centered worship experiences as well as facilitated relational practices.[2]

WAY FORWARD

What this means concretely for us at The Way is that after redesigning our liturgy and therefore our worship experiences, we also have to be intentional about pairing up and/or putting into small groups, people from differing cultures, generations, ethnicities and nationalities.

  • We have launched a pilot program called Companion on The Way to this end. The goal for the future as we grow in numbers and diversity is to establish house churches led by spiritually mature and culturally sensitive disciples who can help guide others along the way.

Prayer circle at Street Sanctuary

  • We have also launched a worship ministry for the homeless called Street Sanctuary in partnership with inExcelsis Inc., a local non-profit. We hope to grow Street Sanctuary into a large ecumenical movement.

 

  • We have likewise launched an ecumenical music ministry called Melody in partnership with Faith Christian Church of India (FCCI), Webster United Methodist, and Wellspring Family Church, whose mission is to put together a multicultural band that will offer worship experiences in various languages using many genres and cultural expressions.

FURTHER READING

  • Allmen, Jean-Jacques von. “Worship and the Holy Spirit.” Studia Liturgica 2, no. 2 (June 1963): 124–35.
  • Ammerman, Nancy Tatom. Congregation and Community. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1997.
  • Clark, Richard. “Does Your Church’s Worship Need a Multicultural Makeover?: Why Local Congregations Should Embrace the Music and Prayers of Other Church.” Christianity Today 60, no. 1 (January 2016): 68.Allmen, Jean-Jacques von. “Worship and the Holy Spirit.” Studia Liturgica 2, no. 2 (June 1963): 124–35.
  • Reese, Martha Grace. Unbinding the Gospel : Real Life Evangelism. St. Louis, Missouri: Chalice Press, 2007.
  • Spellers, Stephanie. Radical Welcome : Embracing God, the Other, and the Spirit of Transformation. New York: Church Pub, 2006.

[1] For more on this, I suggest: Glenn McDonald, The Disciple Making Church: From Dry Bones to Spiritual Vitality

[2] For more on this see Jacqueline Lewis’ “The Power of Stories”; Eunjoo Mary Kim’s “Christian Preaching and Worship in Multicultural Contexts”; and chapter 6 in “Questions Preachers Ask” edited by Johnston, Smith and Tisdale

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