By Joshua Smith
The benefits of diversity enrich a ministry setting. Through the process of learning from each other’s cultural heritage and perspectives, we can gain a broader worldview, an opportunity to minister in our local community and around the world. There is a need for the church to be culturally inclusive and reflect the diversity described in the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20): “Then Jesus came to them and said, `All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’”
We begin to move toward culturally inclusive spiritual formation as we let go of our cultural domination or supremacy. We need to celebrate the Christ-likeness in other people groups. One servant of the Lord who exhibits that formation is Rev. Port Wilburn of Rock Harbor Christian Fellowship in San Pablo. Meeting Port while facilitating a Basic Training for Church Planters meeting in San Rafael in September 2006, I found that he demonstrated an attitude of Christ-likeness and commitment to the Great Commandment and Great Commission. His church planting core group reflected cultural inclusiveness and has continued to follow the same tendency – Rock Harbor’s membership reflects 50% African-American, 40% Anglo and 10% Asian, and that cultural diversity is reflected in the leadership.
During Black Church Leadership and Family Week at Ridgecrest, NC recently, Port took some time to share his passion and interpretation of cultural-inclusive spiritual formation. His observation was that Acts 6 is a powerful chapter that deals with multiculturalism and cultural-inclusiveness. According to his outlook, without being unintentional it creates intentional ministries. He continues to state that intentional ministries avoid unintentional division. Brother Port also noted that Matthew 28-18-20 and Acts 6 describe a supernatural calling, and that every ministry needs to assess or identify its Acts 6 disconnect.
God speaks to and through different cultures in different ways (Hebrews 1:1-3): “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.”
Brother Port said the goal of our Christian walk is to become more like Christ. He also noted that what needs to be done to make that happen is that a leader needs to be transformed into the relationship. Transformational discipleship requires relationship building.
Brother Port also elaborated on the fact that culture is one of the vehicles through which we connect with God, by noting incarnation means that God comes to us in human flesh. God connects with us where we are – God does not stand on the outside. He comes in to us. He becomes one of the communities to reach the community.
Port also commented on ways God is particularly concerned about oppressed and marginalized people of the world. He shows concern for people by using us as the channel of blessings.
If you would like to partner with a Church Planting Catalyst as we reach out to the Golden State, please contact the Church Starting Group at 559.229.9533, x. 263 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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