- If you missed Sunday’s lessons by Alexander Tullis , you can listen to Part I here, and Part II here. You can also listen to my comments here.
- Read more about our reasoning for HARMONY Sunday here.
I felt as though HARMONY Sunday went very well and was a successful launch to an annual event designed to help us examine who God has called us to be as a multicultural congregation.
I was recently reminded, through some of my reading, that “when a church commits to grow, it commits to change”. My church is different because I’m a part of it. So as other people join it, the church continues to change. For some people this is a challenging thought. If we believe that the church is supposed to fit a divine pattern then nothing should change it; the change seems human and wrong. Yet a brief survey of Paul’s letters demonstrates that different churches contain different cultures.
The Corinthian church seems to have had a high proportion of non-Jew converts, so they had a lot of problems with morality and questions about how they should live within a pagan culture. In contrast Paul’s letter to the Galatian churches addresses a lot of questions that Jewish Christians would have had regarding their relationship to the Mosaic law.
I imagine that if I walked into the Corinthian church meeting, it would have a very different atmosphere to that of the Galatian churches. The predominantly Jewish church would probably conduct itself much like a synagogue meeting, (tending to be formal, men and women sitting separately, lots of Scripture reading), while the non-Jewish Christians would have very little to compare a church service to and would probably have less structure. The issue in 1 Cor. 11 of the meal taking over Lord’s Supper may reflect the cultural customs of the young church as much as anything.
I never get the feeling that Paul wants every congregation to look exactly the same. He just deals with each church where it’s at. He calls each to live for God and bring glory to His name, but that’s not the same as requiring them to look identical.
Culture should never take the place of truth, but it will inevitably impact how we share and express God’s truth. I would love to hear examples from people who’ve seen different cultures enrich a church. Do you see any particular challenges for multicultural churches? Have you seen any imaginative approaches to including people from different cultures within one church?
Coincidentally the Christian Chronicle landed on my desk the Saturday before HARMONY Sunday and it featured several articles on multicultural churches. You can read these articles here and here and here.
Finally, if you have any thoughts about HARMONY Sunday 2009 or ideas for 2010 please share them. New ideas and improvements are welcome.
Rather than list songs this week, I thought I’d put together a starter list of Scriptures relevant to a multicultural church. Feel free to add your suggestions.
- Acts 2:5-12 “Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven.“
- Romans 12:3-5 “In Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.“
- Romans 12:13-21 “Live in harmony with one another…Do not think you are superior.“
- 1 Corinthians 10:14:17 “We who are many, are one body.”
- 1 Corinthians 10:32 “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God.“
- Ephesians 2:10-22 “In him you too are being built together…“
- 1 Peter 3:8 “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble.“