The U.S. is more ethnically diverse than ever. In addition to the many ethnic groups already in the U.S., more people arrive on our shores every day. This gives our local Foursquare churches unprecedented opportunities to impact the world with the gospel, right from our very doorsteps.
But ministry to varied people groups doesn’t just happen. We have to be intentional about it.
Let’s take a look at 10 keys that can help you, as a Foursquare leader, and your church successfully minister among the diverse people groups God has brought to your own neighborhood.
1. Network with ethnic leaders.
Discover and meet with ethnic leaders in your community. This may also involve connecting with key ethnic leaders outside your area. Foursquare’s Urban and Multicultural Ministries team can help to connect you with proven and anointed leaders who know their people.
2. Show honor to ethnic pastors.
Many immigrant and ethnic leaders are from honor cultures where a pastoral license and title are very valuable. Many are more formal about ministerial status than many of us in the West. Honor their ministry pasts in their nations or areas of origin. Let them tell you their stories, and they’ll respect you all the more. Be a spiritual leader, and they will connect well with you. Pray with them on the phone or in person, and honor their marriages by meeting with couples when possible.
3. Train your church in multiethnic leadership and skills.
Partner with proven leaders to help train. Don’t forget to include ethnic and/or immigrant leaders in your training, both to help you reach their people, and because they need to be multiethnic, too. Make this training a feature event, not just a workshop. Lead the way and make it an adventure!
4. Build language skills.
Although you may not be in a place to learn an entire other language (but if you can, go for that), in 30 minutes you can learn three key phrases in about any language. When you connect with people in their own languages, they’ll never forget, and they’ll know you love and respect them. They’ll also have a good laugh with you as they help you out, and it will give them courage to learn more English, too.
5. Enfranchise ethnic leaders.
When we give a role, even a small spot, to ethnic or immigrant leaders, we validate them and their ministries. Perhaps include them on the team of an event or have them in the program of a conference.
6. Diversify your team.
In Romans 16, we see that Paul had a very diverse team around him: men, women, former slaves, the wealthy, Jews and Gentiles. Diversifying your team isn’t merely about creating an “ethnic team”—it involves including ethnic leaders on your primary team, perhaps even for skills besides working with their specific people groups.
7. Restructure your missions involvement.
Follow the paths of your people. Orchestrate missions trips or Foursquare Missions International support to the countries or regions from which the immigrant groups you’re involved with have come. They will really get involved, and it will raise the tide of fruitfulness both home and away.
8. Open your home.
Just as in Jesus’ day, sharing a meal together means acceptance in many cultures, and opening your home to most ethnic and immigrant people is far more meaningful than going to a nice restaurant. Many of these leaders have never been in the home another pastoral leader in the U.S., and they’ll love it.
9. Share your church facility.
Immigrant church plants and community groups are always in need of places to meet. Let your church be a place where churches can get started and groups can safely gather.
10. Model it personally.
Nothing communicates the value of immigrant and ethnic ministry as well as you personally modeling it. Surround yourself with ethnic people, and involve them with the rest of your world and team.
Have fun! Joy is one of the most contagious gifts you have to give.