21 Culturally Diverse Churches

Article Index

Park Cities Baptist Church, Dallas    PCBC.ORG

Movement Day Joins White and Black Churches

When Dr. Jeff Warren became senior pastor of Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas a few years ago, the fact that his 11,000-member congregation was almost all wealthy and white didn't really faze him.

"In some ways, Dallas is like a tale of two cities, with the affluent white northern side and the southern side of the city that is very much black," Warren said. "The reality is that our paths never really cross."

Then Warren became involved in the Dallas chapter of Movement Day, an international effort to form leadership teams in the world's largest cities to foster collaborative partnerships and change those cities. Pastor Bryan Carter of Concord Church also joined the Dallas Movement Day team and soon became Warren's close friend.

"Bryan is black and pastors a primarily black megachurch on the opposite end of Dallas," Warren said. "A mutual friend told me I needed to meet Bryan. He said Bryan was a mirror image of me in black form."

Racial reconciliation wasn't a hot button at Park Cities before Warren met Carter. In fact, it wasn't even on the radar. But the pastors' friendship began to change that.

"Bryan and I always say the gospel moves at the speed of relationship," Warren said. "We decided to team up to introduce our congregations to each other by guest speaking in each other's pulpits, bringing our worship teams to each other's churches and speaking together about racial reconciliation on Movement Day panels."  

The result? The church has a growing awareness, understanding and love for all the skin colors God created and the challenges and life experiences that come with different races, ethnicities and cultures.

"All people look at life through the lens of their race," Warren says. "But our identity is not found in our race. Our identity is found in Christ. The gospel is greater than our color. Until the watching world sees the church come together so the entire body of Christ is unified, they will not believe us."    —Natalie Gillespie

People's Church, Oklahoma City    PEOPLESCHURCH.TV

Church Entry Points Help Make All Visitors Feel Included

Sit in a worship service at any one of the three campuses of People's Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and you'll notice that like a photo taken at the water's edge, the people on the stage are a mirror image of those in the seats.

"Each campus is diverse," says Josh Brown, executive pastor. "But whatever the community looks like [in that location], that's what we reflect."

That approach is one People's Church also plans to use when it opens a location in Indianapolis, Indiana, this fall. It's a top-down approach, from leadership to teaching pastors to greeters.

While managing rotations and ratios within the volunteer schedules can be challenging to ensure that the faces that greet people on Sunday are diverse, Brown says it's something that the church is intentional about, as it is with considerations like song selection. Each of those choices is part of a big picture that provides an entry point for any visitor to feel included in the family of faith.

"Our philosophy is to focus on what we have in common, rather than on what race or background we each may come from," Brown says. "We focus on foundational truths—the majors—concepts such as there being one way to heaven and the fact that Jesus Christ is Lord.

For that reason, he says, events like baptisms are a major focus because they point toward a common culture.

These events also provide natural opportunities to encourage people to bring their families and focus on the next generation. As a family of believers, People's Church believes that looking forward to the next generation is perhaps the best way to reflect the forward momentum and unity within God's people.   —Deonne Lindsey

Queens Alliance Church    QCAC.ORG

Getting on the Same Multicultural Church Bus

Tennis fans know Flushing as the home of the famed U.S. Open. David Smith knows this part of the New York City borough of Queens as home to Queens Christian Alliance Church (QCAC).

"The identity and calling of QCAC is being multiethnic, multicongregational, multilanguage and multicultural," Smith says. "We have three congregations–English, Spanish, Mandarin."

Smith, who describes himself as a "white American pastor" is in the minority at his Christian & Missionary Alliance church. Typically, the church sees predominantly American-born Chinese and Filipinos in its English-language service; representation from various South American countries in its Spanish service; and young adults and college students from China and Taiwan in its Mandarin service.

QCAC is "one church with one budget under one senior pastor and one governing board," Smith says, noting he has one overriding goal: "to build unity in community with everybody on the bus moving forward in the same direction together."

QCAC also started what Smith calls a "church-wide, worship-based, God-encountering prayer gathering." Those who do not understand English can use translation equipment.

"Though we speak different languages," Smith says, "we share the common language of prayer!"   —Christine D. Johnson

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