United: A Book Discussion (Chapter 8- A Difficult Pursuit)
Houston, Texas, the fourth (soon to be third) largest city in U.S., recently became the most ethnically diverse city in our country. My hometown’s booming economy and cultural colorfulness have attracted quite a bit of attention over the past few years. Ever since I was younger, my dad has driven home the fact that our city is an amazing opportunity for ministry and outreach. Yet, now that I’m an adult, and the reality becomes more and more real every day, I often find myself overwhelmed with the opportunities at my fingertips: where do I start?
Trillia is careful, in Chapter 8 of United, not to disparage small or rural towns:
“This comparison of cities to rural areas is in no way to pit the two against each other. I cannot stress this enough –God doesn’t command that our mission be isolated to one kind of place. Such thinking is anti-gospel mission. But we can’t ignore population growth, just as we can’t ignore the demographical changes in our country.” (p. 130)
The Gospel was proclaimed by Christ from the smallest town to the most metropolitan city, Jerusalem. It extended from the ethnically diverse city of Rome to more monolithic places in the surrounding empire. It penetrated areas that were full of the most modern conveniences of the day and areas that seemed stuck in an ancient time warp.
The Gospel crosses barriers.
But it doesn’t always cross them with ease.
As previously discussed, the message of diversity shared in United isn’t a message in and of itself, but an extension of the beautiful, uniting call of the Gospels. As our cities change and grow in their ethnic and cultural diversity, so should our message of hope extend to just as broad a demographic as is represented on our censuses, and, in turn, so should our churches extend. Even when it’s difficult.
This week’s questions are from Trillia’s discussion guide for United:
- There is beauty in diversity, but there are also real obstacles that some experience in this pursuit. What obstacles come to mind?
- How might the pursuit of diversity be reduced to a trend? How do we fight against the temptation to make it “cool” and “trendy”?
- How might the changing demographics in our nation affect churches in 20 years?
- Is your church pursuing diversity? If so, how? If not, do you think it is because of some of the difficulties mentioned in this chapter? How might they be overcome?