5 Steps to Cultivate Your Church’s Multiethnic Kingdom Culture

The kingdom of God is comprised of people from all different walks of life engaged in the same mission. Here's how your church can take steps toward cultivating a multiethnic kingdom culture, from the parking lot to the pulpit.

Every Tribe, Tongue, and Nation

To create what we call a “multiethnic kingdom culture” means to establish a church that welcomes people from every nation, tribe, and tongue, seeking to disciple them in the likeness of Christ. We want to help people find their identity in Christ through His gospel, all the while embracing their ethnic identity and celebrating what is good, true, and beautiful about who God created them to be.

The multiethnic church is no new thing. It is part of God’s redemptive narrative from Genesis to Revelation, and we find this truth throughout Scripture. When the church was first born in the book of Acts, God gave His people the supernatural gift of tongues. On the very first day of Pentecost, 12 language groups were birthed into the kingdom of God, there in Jerusalem, as part of the church. It was comprised of people from all different walks of life, both rich and poor, with different shades of melanin, all gathering together for the same mission.

Back to the Mission

The way to get back to this mission—for the church to truly be a witness to the world—is by learning from the early church and allowing the power of the gospel to break through ethnic divides. This multiethnic kingdom culture was an undeniable mark of the first-century church, as the gospel reconciled people who had nothing in common apart from Christ. The world should be able to look at the church today and see something different from what the rest of the world has to offer.

So, how do we cultivate this multiethnic kingdom culture in our church plants today? Here are five steps you can take to lead your congregation in the ways of the early church.

1. Embrace unity through prayer

To achieve this end, prayer is essential. We read of this prayer-fueled unification in Acts 2, as the church gathered and prayed together fervently. We need the Spirit of the Lord to break through barriers and to draw our hearts nearer to Him. Praying together in community brings people’s hearts together as we pursue the heart of the Father in unity.

One of the main unifiers in a community is the presence of suffering. One of the ways to build a multi-ethnic church culture is by pursuing unity through prayer. These shared experiences bring us together as a congregation, led by the spiritual discipline of prayer.

2. Exercise biblical hospitality

Another basic discipline is hospitality. As you think about casting a multiethnic vision, remember the importance of creating a welcoming space for those outside the church. Your space communicates to people who you are and what you’re about. What are the first things they see, even before entering the building? When someone walks in, what will they find hanging up on the wall? Make sure a welcoming presence is there to greet them at the entrance and while they walk through the doors of the sanctuary. Make sure there are multiple touchpoints for hospitality as newcomers move throughout the building.

We can all think of moments when we experienced incredible hospitality and how those efforts made us feel like we belonged and were part of the larger group surrounding us. Ultimately, we see hospitality in the life and ministry of Jesus, how He welcomed people no matter who they were, how broken they were, or how different their backgrounds were. He spent time with those who were unlike him, ate with them, and created a space for them. As Christians, the way forward is to model hospitality.

3. Model it for your congregation

Even if an area is completely homogenous, its people can still cultivate a multiethnic kingdom culture. At the end of the day, it’s about teaching your congregation to love their neighbors as themselves, instructing them to decenter their own “ethnic love,” so to speak, and to welcome other ethnicities and cultures. You can disciple your people by quoting diverse crowds, preachers, and teachers and by making sure you’re not just learning from those within your own ethnic makeup. You can also make sure that the children in your nursery are prepared to cross cultures as they leave your student ministry for college and the world beyond.

We accomplish this by educating our congregations and imparting to them the knowledge that the kingdom of God is larger than just the people we see in our own church pews. Consider what you can do to make this gospel truth accessible to your people.

4. Be intentional

Intentionality matters in the multiethnic church. Without it, you won’t go far. There’s a sense in which you want to move forward organically, but you still have to be intentional in order to move the ball forward at all.

When your fellow leaders can come to the table as learners and help put together an intentional plan, you can be more intent on caring for your congregation and shepherding them well. Building social capital takes time, and it does not happen by accident. The natural tendency of the flesh is to gravitate toward things that are like us. So, without intentionality as leaders, progress will be harder to come by. Be intentional about this idea of pursuing a multiethnic sense of unity.

5. Celebrate the kingdom of God

Celebrate the fact that you are already a part of a greater multiethnic, multigenerational, multi-social economic church—the body of Christ! And in that realization, cultivate curiosity. No matter where you are, if you’re in a homogenous or more diverse space, choose to see people as fearfully and wonderfully made. Come to them with the humility of having something to learn. If they are in Christ, they have something to teach us. One day, they’re going to share their story in heaven about how God saved them and washed them with the blood of Christ.

So, stay curious, be humble, and choose to celebrate the goodness of the Lord in reconciling people from every tribe, tongue, and nation to Himself!

Adapted from Episode 780: Cultivating a Multiethnic Kingdom Culture from the New Churches Podcast.

Published April 1, 2024

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