ORLANDO, Fla. (BP)–Pastors and planters of multicultural churches will soon have another tool to help accomplish what many of them admit is a daunting, but necessary task if Southern Baptists hope to reach the United States in the 21st century.
A media kit is being developed by the Southern Baptist North American Mission Board to help multicultural churches, multicultural church plants and monocultural churches wanting to become multicultural, NAMB officials announced June 12 at the Multicultural Church Network’s annual meeting in Orlando, Fla.
Calling the kit a “tremendous promotional tool,” Russell Begaye, NAMB national multiethnic manager, said the kit will also help train pastors of multicultural ministries.
The kit will include tapes of television and radio commercials, as well as a CD with posters, fliers, banners and other promotional materials. The kit, expected to be released in February, also will include a bibliography and “how to” resources to help churches start or transition to a multicultural ministry, Begaye added.
Although Begaye valued the kit at $1,300, NAMB, which released a similar kit this year for Spanish churches, hopes to make the resource available at no cost.
“We feel like the people who need these materials and resources the most are the ones who can afford them the least,” said Richard Harris, NAMB vice president for church planting.
The Multicultural Church Network, which held its first meeting during the SBC annual meeting in Atlanta last year, numbers more than 40 churches. The group’s activities include holding regional conferences and church workshops and assisting pastors interested in multicultural ministry by putting them in contact with pastors of multicultural churches. The group plans to hold a national conference in 2001, develop Internet discussion groups and operate a website.
The need for the network is simple, said steering committee chairman Paul Kim, pastor of Berkland Baptist Church, Cambridge, Mass.
“America is heading toward a multicultural society, and so we need to build up more multicultural churches,” Kim said.
“Until we get serious about what you guys are about,” Harris told the group, “I don’t know that we’re going to touch all of North America.”
Begaye agreed, saying, “I believe that the mega-churches we will see in the future will be multicultural.”
With a rapidly growing multicultural, urban American population, the need for multicultural churches is evident, but as most people at the meeting acknowledged, the job is not easy.
“The task is tremendous; the challenges are there; the need is great,” Begaye said.
Challenges cited included racial prejudice, a resistance to change, fear, ignorance and a lack of experience relating to other ethnic groups.
Tim Clark, pastor of Pine Lake Baptist Church, Stone Mountain, Ga., who is leading his church to start a multicultural congregation, understands the risk.
“We’re trying this and the risk factor is great and we might fail, but we will not fail because we did not try,” Harris said.
He reminded the group that change will take time and it is important to persevere.
“We didn’t get here overnight. We won’t solve it overnight, but we keep chipping away at it,” Harris said.
Churches need to understand that multicultural churches are “the love model of the Bible and the New Testament,” he added.
Solutions suggested for increasing the number of multicultural churches included more ethnic diversity at all levels of leadership from the local church to the national level. Providing education and publicizing of multicultural churches that are succeeding also were mentioned. Examples included Mosaic in Los Angeles, Armitage Baptist Church in Chicago, Northwest Baptist Church in Miami and First Baptist Church, Vacaville, Calif.
In addition to Kim, the steering committee includes Begaye; Robert Goette, church consultant from Chicago; and Leroy Gainey, pastor of the Vacaville congregation.
In a video presentation, Gainey summed up why he is such a strong supporter of multicultural churches. “This is the way it’s done in heaven,” he said, “so this is how we should do it here on earth.”