I’m just a weary pilgrim trying to find what feels like home

My friend Luke wanted something to do at work this afternoon (he’s got a case of the Fridays, I suppose, instead of the Mondays … and I much prefer the Fridays myself!), so I asked him to be a guest blogger here. So here you go — Luke’s thoughts on multiculturalism, unedited and unfettered. 🙂 (PS – You can find Luke’s blog at www.xanga.com/zyncl19)

What does it mean to be multi-cultural, and do we really want that in the church?

My dad’s the pastor of a small non-denominational church in Wisconsin. Last weekend we were having a discussion about the state of the church as a whole, and came to the topic of diversity.

By my observation, the church in America is one of the last bastions of segregation. Whites go to traditional churches and blacks go to gospel churches. Hispanics and Asians go to churches where they speak their native languages. When is the last time you looked around your church and saw anyone much different from yourself?

(This isn’t necessarily about racial segregation. A church can be very racially diverse, but culturally not diverse at all. This is a discussion of cultural and not racial diversity even though the two usually go hand in hand.)

Many of the more liberal churches are making a big deal about this. “Why can’t we all worship together?” they ask, or “how can we be more culturally sensitive?” The idea is that since only one type of person is coming to a church, they must somehow be discriminating against all other types.

I think the reason is simpler than that. We all like to worship in our own way, our own style, our own culture. There are enough churches out there that any person can find one that fits pretty well. Automatically there’s no diversity in the church – the different people have found a place where they fit in.

Is this such a bad thing? If I went to a church where they had people dancing with brightly colored streamers during worship, I wouldn’t go back. But there are some people who like to worship in that way, and they stay. I choose to go to a church where I can worship the way I like to worship.

In order to make a church diverse you would have to include many styles of worship: the style of each culture that the church is trying to attract. I don’t think that multiple cultures can or want to worship in the same way – that’s why we have different types of churches in the first place. If a church somehow managed to put aspects from different cultures into their worship in a way that nobody disliked, I don’t think anybody would like it either – it would be too bland.

I think the system we have works just fine as it is. Everyone is happy in their own church, worshipping the same God in their own correct but different way. Each church may not be diverse, but the Church is. Is there anything wrong with that?

If you’re not happy with what I’ve written, and think me hateful, narrow-minded or just plain uneducated, ask yourself this: if diversity is more important to you than having your preferred style of worship, why aren’t you in a church where you’re the different one?

6 Comments

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6 Responses to I’m just a weary pilgrim trying to find what feels like home

  1. Jason

    This is an interesting blog entry! My question is, which churches are your referring that are trying to find ways to be more sensitive and/or diverse? While I have heard of individual congregations attempt to reach out to others in their communities, I have not seen churches try to be more p.c. or liberal to accomodate others, at least publically. Are you referring to speficic congregations, or churches on a state/regional/national level? While I agree with your stance on the issue, I do not think this is a significant issue. I would genuinely like to know why you think it is.

    -Jason

  2. luke

    the vineyard (http://www.vineyardusa.org/) as a whole is moving in that direction – i think they appointed a person to direct it for the movement. my dad said other denominations/assocations of churches have done the same thing, but i didn’t ask which ones.

  3. Jason

    A quick scan of their website (thanks for the link) confirmed what I had suspected. It seems that this church is part of a growing evangelical movement that seeks to sell Christ and Christianity to a potential spiritual consumer. For the vineyard, it seems like it is part of their doctrine (or, in that church’s case, their “genetic code”). When I made my original comment, I thought you were trying to say the baptists, methodists, episcopalians, or [insert Chrisitan denomination here] were trying to be more culturally sensitive, which I do not think is the case overall. Whether you think this is right or wrong, religion is a big business now more than ever. So my question to you, then, is this: do you think the business of selling religion harmful to Christianity?

    -Jason

  4. luke

    i don’t understand what you’re implying with this whole “selling” thing. are you trying to imply that the vineyard is pushing unwanted ideas upon people? or that they are doing this for their own benefit? and what on the web site led you to get this idea?

  5. Jason

    No, No, and…. On their website, they have the “Vineyard Genetic Code,” which explains that a characteristic of their church is church planting and missions, and evangelical outreach. The Trinity Broadcasting Network has several examples of trying to sell the church to people. The Evangelical Free Church of America (an assoc. of many churches)strives to do the same. I could go on and on. And I don’t mean selling religion to people for personal profit, I mean selling them so that they want to become members and believers. (Although, I do not believe most of these church leaders are doing too poorly.) My point(s) is that an aspect of the very foundation of these churches is to broaden their “customers” (much like a business, hence the analogy). In any case, you say you are opposed to churches looking for ways to blend different types of people/cultures together. I’m just trying to figure out why YOU think this is a bad thing. Now, I think (or hope) we have established that it is these church organizations that are doing this (such as the afformentioned EFCA). So, that is why I ask the question: do you think these church organizations are harmful to Christianity, since they strive to appeal to people who may not be locked in step with a traditional form of worship? Do you think they are distorting the message that is being taught correctly in Methodist, Episcopal, and Baptist congregations, etc.? Should outreach programs cease, and let people gravitate toward church vice church reaching out to them?

    I guess my bottom line is that I agree with you that people ought to be able to worship in a way they want to without the distoration of a changing philosophy; but, I think you are making a point where, quite frankly, there is not one to be made, unless you believe that this movement can have a direct impact on your house of worship that you are already comfortable in. Just trying to provoke thought, too 🙂

    -Jason

  6. Alicia

    Carla Jean! We’ve lost each other! I broke up with Pete and moved back to Auburn to finish my freaking thesis…Will I ever graduate? Anyways, I’m working at a small tv station here in town. So, my telephone number has changed. Please call me or e-mail me. My number is 334.444.1369. Are you still in Tuscaloosa? I’d love to come see you.

    Truly,

    Alicia

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