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Kainos: A New Normal

SharDavia Bell

As I walked toward the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN, the black and white pictures that I studied since childhood were brought to color. The realization that forty-six years ago, this was the location that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. breathed his last, became evident to me like a memory from a dream. When I realized where I was, there was an undeniable, yet sobering, sensation of reverence. I was reminded of the sacrifices made for blacks to gain equal rights in America. Great missions often come at an even greater cost. It seems fitting that The Civil Rights Museum was the location of the Kainos 2014 Conference.

What is Kainos?

By the year 2050, sociologists predict that the majority of American residents will be non-white. Our nation is rapidly trending toward diversity.

The Kainos 2014 Conference, a gathering for leaders who either seek to start multi-ethnic ministries/churches, or who aspire to transition their current homogenous ministries into a multi-ethnic trajectory, featured a diverse group of well-known speakers such as: Dr. Tony Evan, Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, Dr. John Piper and more.

Kainos is the Greek word for “new” used in Ephesians 2 to describe the convergence of the Jews and the Gentiles to form a multi-ethnic church. As our nation moves toward the minority becoming the majority, the faces that sit in the pews of our local churches will begin to change. The toddlers of today will grow up with new normal.

The Heartbeat of the Body of Christ

“Diversity for diversity’s sake is tasteless.” Pastor Bryan Loritts of Fellowship Memphis set the pace of the conference with this statement.

The preeminence of Christ is the heartbeat of the body of Christ. As Jesus goes to the marketplace of humanity, He purchases people from every tribe, nation, and tongue. The multi-ethnic bride of Christ in Revelation 5 is celebrating Jesus Christ and what His death accomplished.

This conference was marinated in the Word of God. The speakers and teachers, though different in their expertise and delivery, made it repeatedly clear that Jesus must be everything. He must be the center. My affections for Christ were stirred as I was reminded that Christ bought His bride at the highest cost—His life.

Engaging the Culture

I’ve been chewing on Dr. Soong-Chan Rah’s message titled, “Living In An Authentic Multi-Ethnic Community: Tears of Lament and Hope”.

You don’t often hear preachers instruct the audience to turn to Lamentations, but that’s where we began. Laments are often lost in the stories we tell. This is unfortunate, because God’s voice seems to be heard most clearly through the tears of our pain.

In Jeremiah 29:4-7, God reminds his people in exile not to give up. He commands them to seek the peace of the city Babylon that enslaves them. Even in the most horrible and sinful place you can image, they are called to not disengage, run away, or hide. They are called to seek God’s peace and presence, even in Babylon.

We can engage the culture of the world around us by listening and reading the stories, history, laments and celebrations of the minority groups that populate our nation. These stories are often untold, but we need them. We need laments as much as celebration.

Entering Into Other’s Laments

What was life like for a slave in the antebellum south in the 1800s? What are the fears, hopes, and dreams of first, second, and third generation of Korean immigrants? What was it like for my roommate’s Cuban family to leave the only home they knew in Havana, to come to America? What’s the broken heart in these stories? Where’s the redemption of God?

Rah challenged me to be intentional about entering into the lament of others. As we enter into these stories of celebration and suffering, they will change us. They will shed greater light on the greatness of our God, and we will see deeper fascists of His character through the eyes of the other.

Take time to listen to people or read the books of those different from yourself. It’s a mighty long journey to the Kingdom of God; but where we’re going is a perfect Kingdom where Jesus reigns and there’s unity between Christ and His people.

As we run with endurance the race that has been set before us, hearing of people’s laments and celebrations of God along the way, we will see shadows of the Kingdom to come.

Editor’s Note: You can view the conference recap here.

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