Books The Arts

United: A Book Discussion (Chapter 8- A Difficult Pursuit)

Jasmine Holmes

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:

  1. There is beauty in diversity, but there are also real obstacles that some experience in this pursuit. What obstacles come to mind?
  1. How might the pursuit of diversity be reduced to a trend? How do we fight against the temptation to make it “cool” and “trendy”?
  1. How might the changing demographics in our nation affect churches in 20 years?
  1. 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?

2 thoughts on “United: A Book Discussion (Chapter 8- A Difficult Pursuit)

  1. Amy

    I saw a video of Matt Chandler speaking at a seminary on diversity in his church and how it needs to spread to others. What bothered me and raised a red flag was his strong assertions that if there isn’t racial diversity in your church then their is probably sin (aka:racism) and something is wrong. He then went on to chastise whites for not bringing in more color to the church….did he ever assume perhaps some black brothers/sisters don’t want to go to an all white church? Not sure?

    But I had to roll my eyes at his condescending manner and ignorance of rural American. You see I live in a town of 1,400 people. My church is made up of about 50 people about 99% white. The building is over 100 yrs old and in serious need of repair, our hymnals are held together by tape, the pews have 2×4’s holding them up and our pastor lives on $12K a year (with 10 kids to feed). Not your typical mega church…lol. But that’s okay because we feel as though we are truly a family, we worship together, eat lunch and even supper together on Sunday followed up by an evening walk. I know that these folks will walk with me and I with them as we pursue Christ as foreigners in this world. I feel blessed to have the accountability, encouragement and fellowship that can sometimes only come from a small church.

    But if Mr. Chandler saw us I wonder if all he would see would be our lack of color and make assumptions. I don’t know?

    I think this diversity pursuit is another form of a seeker friendly formula often found in mega churches in mega cities. I don’t think churches should pursue “diversity”, I think they should pursue the preaching of the Gospel and lost folks. I believe God will direct people to His church.

    I think people who grow up in cities forget that 90% of the nation live in cities so it’s easy to make assumptions and honestly feel everyone should be doing this but we country folks who make up a measly 10% laugh at those assumptions. It’s sad but the truth is the gap between urban and rural is extremely broad and deep not only in our social lives but in the church as well and unfortunately I don’t see it stopping anytime soon.

  2. george canady

    I heard Matt Chandler say he thinks he is making some head way at his church in that at least people are feeling the freedom to complain. Perhaps some only see complaint as divisiveness and factiousness. This charge is a frightful one for any true believer and is the tool used by many reformed churches to maintain the status (mostly white leadership) quo. Fear kills dissention and crushes conversation. I am glad to be a reformed pro-test-ant. Thank God for 500 years of it.

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