There’s One Expert
I am only six months into planting a multi-ethnic church. What a journey! We have yet to begin our regular meetings and already I see a central lesson emerging from my experiences: there’s only one expert and it is not me. Jesus is the only real expert at creating the Christian community we call the church. He does it through his message, the good news of the Gospel. He uses it to break down barriers and establish identities in people that drive out fear and pride. He does it by the power of his Holy Spirit, creating unity in diversity.
I thought that my background would prepare me to lead this church plant. I thought that being a white dude raised in a predominantly African-American congregation of Jehovah’s Witnesses in North Mississippi would give me a head start. Perhaps it has made me a little more comfortable with the vision. However, I am more and more convinced that my confidence must be in the Lord and in Him alone. Sociology, personality, experiences, testimonies: all of these have their place. God has woven them all into the story of my life. But remember that we are dealing with a God who likes to take people like Nehemiah, a cup-bearer, and turn them into wall-builders armed with nothing but prayer and a God-given vision.
I want to see multi-ethnic church plants spring up all over the state of Mississippi and beyond. Most will say that the biggest barrier to overcome is racism, and perhaps that is true. But the kissing cousin of racism that we also need to repent of, myself included, is elitism. I’m thinking specifically of two types of elitism.
The first involves our perception of churches different from our own. I had grown to believe that the vast majority of African-American churches were teaching liberation theology and/or prosperity teaching. Now that I’ve actually visited several and discussed these issues with African-American believers, I’ve come to realize how ignorant it was for me to assume those generalizations. There are plenty of churches with major issues no matter what the ethnic makeup of their congregations may be. But there are also plenty of churches embracing the Gospel on all sides. We need to be partnering with one another.
Second, we don’t need more experts to see change. Part of what holds us back from pursuing unity is the belief that we need experts to lead the way. I have struggled with lack of confidence at times, believing that I need more knowledge or experiences to be of any real use. But that false humility is actually rooted in a culture of elitist pride. It is a cop-out. If we really care about unity, then we will start praying and go make a mess for the sake of the Gospel.
Pray for God to challenge your fear and your pride with his Gospel. Visit a church where you will be the minority. Invite someone you meet to lunch and learn about what God has done in their life. Join me in praying for God’s kingdom to come in your town as it is in heaven. We only need One Expert!
“For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:26-31