“Diversity in unity” is the main character of God’s community. That is why I believe that our ministry is going in the right direction because we are no longer a homogenous, Korean-only congregation. Those who grew up in our church are so used to being around Koreans in the church and sometimes forget we have other ethnic groups present in The Seed.
Jesus called us to make disciples of all nations. To reach all nations, we need to first be aware of our racial/cultural bias. Humans are naturally dispositioned to reach inward, not outward. Without effort, we naturally gravitate toward people who share the same culture, language, and interest. It takes intentional attempt to break out of our love for people who look the same and think the same. Our affinity for the same race often has an inverse relationship with our passion for bringing people to Christ. In other words, if we find ourselves gravitating toward people just like us all the time, it is highly likely that we will be less enthusiastic about reaching out to people who are not like us in their ”faith”.
This is not a new problem. The early Jerusalem church was Jews-dominant. Many Jews who became a Christian considered Jesus as “their” Messiah. Certain leaders of Judaism who converted to Christianity even asserted that a gentile (non-Jew) should become a Jew first before they become a Christian! (Remember, that involved surgery for men!) Christianity was in danger of becoming another Jewish religion. But early Church leaders gathered for a meeting and they made it crystal clear that Jesus is the savior for all people, including the Gentiles. They decided that they will not impose Jewish culture and traditions on gentiles who were coming to Christ. Christianity was literally saved.
As we become too comfortable with being around people of the same race in the church, our cultural tradition quickly becomes another hurdle non-Koreans have to go over before even considering following Christ and becoming part of our church. This happens so subtly that not many notices.
So to foster a culture of diversity, let us avoid using “racial” jokes or impersonation on Sunday or in house church. What we might consider as jokes are often demeaning comments in disguise. We will never be expert on other cultures but we can manage our bias in our speech and attitude.
The reason is simple. People we interact with daily are mostly non-Koreans. When our friends and colleagues are mostly non-Koreans, I think one of the good ways we can love them is by creating a place where they will feel comfortable when they visit us in the future.