There is a story of a church that was a typical story of American churches—it was uni-ethnic community. Or, as another stated, the most segregated time in America is Sunday morning. A sad statement, to be sure! Well, this individual was hired to lead an almost all white church in a neighborhood that was fully integrated with the mosaic of cultures, traditions and languages. He felt uncomfortable with how little the congregation reflected the community.
With courage in one hand and faith in the other, he began a conversation within the congregation about why they didn’t reflect the beauty of the cultural diversity they lived within. They learned together that their style of worship was not appealing to the rich expressions found elsewhere; that many within the congregation didn’t really have friends beyond the church community; and that the church was started when the community was almost all white.
The community began to ask new questions—who does Jesus love? What must we do to change to open the doors to others? How are we impacting our local community today? Do we need to abandon our ‘right’ style of worship to engage the unchurched and neighbors?
They decided to spend a prolonged period of time praying and going out to the neighborhood to discover the great needs of their day. They changed their name to announce that they were creating a new kind of community from the old way…it was renamed Mosaic Church. They began to have new styles of music, new classes on needs in the community, and began to highlight the beauty of each culture represented.
Truth be told, lots of people left that church. They didn’t want change, or new people. They wanted what they liked. But in their wake of departure, the church started filling with the mosaic of the community. Lives were transformed. Marriages saved. Addiction overcome. Music created. Impact in the local community flourished as the church looked beyond themselves and to the great needs of that time.
It is never easy to embrace the mosaic of God’s children. Cultures have unique traditions, experiences and practices. Yet the mission of God is much too big and important to be held to one way. Unity isn’t the same as uniformity. Uniformity lacks unique expressions of life. Unity is the holding hands together and embracing the uniqueness that makes us…well, us! I wonder, what might it mean for you to start praying for your neighbors, caring for the disenfranchised, and ensuring that Central Union is a place where all of our uniqueness is embraced as we dwell in the Unity of the Spirit?