Posts Tagged ‘Multi-cultural Church’

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Seven Fatal Errors in Multi-cultural Ministry: #5 Finances

Saturday, October 10, 2009

“Pastor Lucero, I have people in my office that need help now!  If they don’t pay their rent they will be out on the street.  This family can’t wait for all of the red tape and a weeks turnaround time for the church to cut a check. They need funds now!

In the Hispanic Community the pastor is the one his flock goes to for counsel on immigration assistance, legal matters, job placement, housing, and financial assistance.  In many Hispanic churches the pastor has access to the church checking account and provides funds to assist his people with groceries, utility bills, gas, and a late rent payment.

Because of the great temptation to misappropriate  funds it is in the best interest of pastors and members of their congregation if the pastor does not have access to church funds.   This is why many churches install procedures for the collection, banking, and oversight of the expenditures and benevolence in which many Pastors don’t play a role. Its intended to preserve his integrity and that of the church.

When working with immigrant pastors who are accustomed to distributing funds at their discretion our North American practice comes across as being insensitive and apathetic to the needs of the people. We can be accused of caring more for procedure than people

Here are some recommendations to deal with this issue.

  1. Create a policy and a process for the handling of church funds, especially as it pertains to benevolence assistance.
  2. Inform the immigrant pastor and his leadership of the church policies and procedures on the handling of benevolence funds.
  3. Encourage the pastor to educate their people on the importance of not waiting until the last minute to request assistance.
  4. Provide the necessary paperwork to gather the necessary information for a benevolence request.
  5. Appoint as soon as possible a leader in the immigrant church who will conduct the interview with the people who need assistance.
  6. Prepare a list of Community Service Organizations that can assist with emergency housing, food and other services to share with those in need.

How has your ministry dealt with this issue?

That’s my opinion, I welcome yours.

Art

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Seven Fatal Errors in Multi-cultural Ministry: Error #3 Incompatible Doctrinal Views

Friday, April 10, 2009

“All in favor say ‘Aye’, opposed? Motion carried.  I’ll speak to pastor Hernandez about our decision” said Ralph Baker – Board Chairman

 “Ralph if you don’t mind I’d like to go along with you” stated Pastor Johnson.  “This is an exciting time in the life of our church and I don’t want to miss it.”

Pastor Johnson and Ralph Baker met with Pastor Hernandez in his home.

“Pastor Hernandez” said Ralph Baker, “when you came to us three years ago requesting the use of our facility to start a Spanish speaking church, well quite honestly, we were very suspicious.”

“Yes, but since then” said pastor Johnson, “we have seen the Lord bless your work. And the Board has unanimously agreed to invite you to join our church and denomination.”

Pastor Hernandez could sense the joy and hopeful expectation in the voice of his guests.  This made it more difficult for him to express his concerns.

“I am honored by your invitation, but I cannot accept it.”

Taken completely off guard, Pastor Johnson asked, “Why not?”

“Because some of our beliefs are not the same.  In fact I have been meaning to speak to you about our youth. We are grateful that you allow them to participate in your youth ministry.  But our leadership has decided to begin our own youth ministry.  It seems that your teaching on assurance of salvation has our young people confused and their parents are upset.”

Regardless of what many may think about the divisiveness of denominational lines to the unity of the body of Christ, the fact remains that people have been brought up to believe certain theological teachings we call doctrine.

Some local churches recognizing the need for an immigrant church in their community and wanting to launch such a ministry, will, out of expediency, accept the first immigrant pastor that seeks the use of their facilities without ever discussing the subject of doctrine or minimizing the doctrinal differences.

As long as there is no cross over in ministry between these two independent congregations, such as the youth of the immigrant church participating in the youth ministry or Sunday school of the English speaking church, doctrinal differences will be minimal.  But once the cross over begins, whether planned or spontaneous, doctrinal difference can be the source of major contention.

To avoid this pitfall carefully screen ethnic pastors regarding their doctrinal beliefs.  Where language is an issue consider:

  • Having a member of your congregation that is bi-lingual translate for you as you screen candidates.
  • Contacting an immigrant pastor with your doctrinal beliefs to help you screen prospective candidates.
  • Contacting the Director of Church Planting for your fellowship or denomination to provide you with an ethnic pastor or to help you screen prospective candidates.

In the case of a multi-ethnic English speaking church, as with any homogenous church, some families with different doctrinal views will attend and maybe even join the church.  This situation is different from that mentioned above.  In this case families have willingly, knowing the doctrinal differences, joined the church for a personal or family benefit or blessing that they were not receiving in the church they left.

That’s my opinion I welcome yours.

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Reaching the Nations Among Us: Part 3 The Seven Fatal Errors of Ethnic Ministry: Error #1 – Lack of Unity

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Many conflicts between a host and immigrant church are the result of unfulfilled expectations. Unfulfilled because they were not expressed and written down prior to launching the immigrant ministry.

Here is a three step process I use to create a spirit of unity.  It takes me an average of eight months to walk a church through the first two steps.

1.  SOW the Vision. Helping people take ownership of a vision cannot be done in one 45-minute presentation. People need time to process the vision. 

·      The Pastor. The pastor is the key person. Nothing will be accomplished without the pastor’s full support.

·      The Leadership.  The leadership needs to work through the issues and ask all of the questions necessary before moving ahead. Only then can they confidently respond to questions from the congregation.

·      The Congregation. The congregation should receive the same information that the pastor and the leadership received. They are the ones that will have to give up exclusive use of facilities, worship styles, and leadership positions to reach all levels of assimilation within an immigrant group.

2.  SURVEY the Body.

·      Determine your acceptable losses. The leadership should determine the number of families or individuals they are willing to loose in order to implement an ethnic ministry. Whether you change your style of worship music, name, or drop Sunday school for small groups, there are always some who will leave the church.  It’s no different with starting an immigrant ministry.

·      Conduct an informal survey.  Following the Vision Casting to the congregation (I recommend a series of messages) divide the families of the church among the leadership and ask them what they think about the possibility of starting an ethnic ministry.  This casual survey will help you get some idea if you are within the range of acceptable losses.  If not, go back to casting the vision.  Consider some of the negative feedback received from the casual survey.  Address these concerns from a biblical perspective. Remember we are not asking for permission, we are preparing the hearts of our people for transition.

·      Conduct a formal survey.  Proceed with this step if the informal survey is positive. The purpose is to solicit the opinions, concerns and fears of the people so they can be addressed at an announced congregational meeting for this purpose. 

3.  SECURE a Covenant.

 A covenant outlines the commitments the church is wiling to make to launch an immigrant ministry.

·      Facility Use. The usage of rooms, days, and times for regular services and a process for requesting usage for special events and activities.  Rooms are no longer for the exclusive use of any one person or ministry.

·      Equipment Use.  The usage of audio/visual equipment for regular services and a process for requesting usage for special events and activities.

·      Chain of Command.

                   o     Ministry Leaders: Children’s, Youth, Audio-Video, Greeters, Ushers, etc… should provide training for counter parts in the immigrant church for continuity across language ministries regarding church policies, practices, and care of facilities and equipment.

                   o     The Immigrant Pastor and congregation must be aware of the church’s process and protocol for dealing with issues.

·      Finances. Since the immigrant ministry is part of the local church then all offerings go into the church treasury.  The church should create a line item(s) to cover the expenses of the immigrant ministry.  This should include, as soon as possible, the immigrant pastor’s compensation package.

That’s my opinion.  I welcome yours.

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Reaching the Nations Among Us: Part 1 A Nation of Immigrants

Monday, February 16, 2009

1952, East Los Angles, CA  – “Look Mijo”, she said to me in Spanish, “See that big building? That’s where your daddy is going to work!” I was four years old as I sat on my mother’s lap looking out the window into East Los Angeles. As the train slowed down through the community of Boyle Heights for its arrival into Union Station, I looked in awe at the massive building my mother pointed out – the Los Angeles County General Hospital.

My mother’s words expressed the hope of my stepfather, Roberto Serrano, affectionately referred to as “Bobby” by the doctors and medical staff at his retirement as a surgical technician from Queen of the Valley Hospital in West Covina. But in 1952, he was an immigrant from Mexico with a new wife, a son, little money, a sixth grade education, yet full of hope and a dream for a better life.

 The next decade my dad would work toward achieving his dream. During that time my mom’s brothers would cross the border one by one, housed by my parents until they got a job and were able to rent a place of their own.

 The story of my family is similar to that of many immigrants that have come to America in search of hope and the opportunity to achieve their dream. America is a nation comprised of immigrants and their descendents. Franklin D. Roosevelt said, “Remember, remember always, that all of us… are descended from immigrants…”

The present reality is that the majority of descendents of immigrants is shifting. Demographers tell us that by 2042: 

  • Whites will be less than 50% of the U.S. population.
  • Hispanics will be over one in four.
  • African-Americans will be 12%.
  • Asians and Pacific Islanders will more than double their 2006 population to 28.3 million.

A more staggering figure by the Pew Hispanic Center is that new immigrants arriving after 2005 and their descendents will account for 82% of the U.S. population growth between 2005 and 2050 as a result of natural increase (the excess of births over death).

Children under the age of 18 are expected to reach majority-minority status of just over 50% of the population by 2023 and 62% of all children by 2050, mostly due to the growth in immigrant children. 

The demographical changes in the next forty-nine years are shocking, but what is the demographic reality of today? According to a 2005 report by the U.S.Census Bureau, Hawaii, California, New Mexico and Texas are majority-minority state, along with the District of Columbia. States on their way to becoming majority-minority are Maryland, Mississippi, Georgia, New York and Arizona. 2007 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau show that about 10% (302) of the country’s 3,141 counties are already majority minority counties. Another 218 counties are at the “tipping point” and in the next few years will become majority-minority counties.

So what is the pathological impact of these demographical changes on the local church?  It’s deadly. Dr. Peter Wager in his book Your Church Can Grow identifies the disease as “Ethnikitis.” The symptom is that the people in the pew no longer reflect the people in the community. The diagnosis is that the church will eventually die.  When we take into account the exodus of baby boomers from more densely populated to less densely populated areas when they retire, minorities will fill the housing vacancies but not necessarily the pews.

The churches in greatest danger of dying are homogenous churches that have predominately targeted a white middle class population. That is because their demographic is in decline. The options for survival are: (1) sell or give the facilities to a homogenous ethnic congregation and relocate to where your constituency has relocated. (2) Become a multi-cultural congregation ministering to multiple congregations in their language and cultural context. These multi-cultural congregations may be one church with multiple language departments, or multiple congregations sharing one facility. (3) Transition to a multi-ethnic congregation where the church has a diversity of English speaking ethnic groups. This list of options is by no means extensive. If you know of other options please submit those options in the comment box for the benefit of our readers.

If the homogenous church is to survive and thrive the people in the pews must reflect the people in the community.  The question now, is how? We will begin to address this question in our series, Reaching the Nations Among Us. 

That’s my opinion. I welcome yours.

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Healthy Respect

Friday, December 12, 2008

Jay Pankratz talks about respect, the flip side of humility, and its importance to multi-ethnic ministry.

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Jay Pankratz: The Power of Humility in a Multi-ethnic Church

Thursday, November 27, 2008

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