How To Move from Homogeneity to Diversity In A Christian Congregation. Pres. Dan Gilbert Interviews Rev. Terry Chan.
What is the most diverse city you know? It is not New York.
The BBC says Toronto is the most ethnically diverse city in the world. Stockton, Ca. comes up as the most diverse city in America. New York City is said to have the most number of different ethnic groups, and one of the largest number of citizens with a Chinese background.
The town in New York City with the largest Chinese community is Flushing, Queens. It was established in 1683 as a colony of the Dutch. Flushing is where I grew up. (The Dutch named it “Vlissingen” but the English not able to pronounce it called the town “Flushing.”)
When I was growing up in Flushing a mixed marriage was a German marrying an Italian. Things have changed. The ethnic makeup of my hometown has changed – probably yours as well. The ethnic diversity of schools and colleges has changed. As has diversity in the workplace. But not much has changed in Lutheran Churches. Every study shows Lutherans are 95% white English speaking.
Terry Chan is an LCMS missionary to America in San Francisco. His congregation includes Asians and Hispanics, African Americans and European Americans. Terry was born in Hong Kong, his father was from Hong Kong but his mother was American. His mother’s family first came to the United States from China in 1879.
Terry has been a leader in Asian missions in the LCMS; he was the first chairman of the Chinese Ministry Conference. He is currently a member of the board of Mission Nation Publishing. Recently the missionary entered a doctoral program to answer the question how LCMS churches can move from homogeneity to ethnic diversity. Mission Nation intends to publish a book of his findings to help churches reach an ethnic group different from their own.
President Emeritus Dan Gilbert sat down with Terry to find out what he has discovered. You can see the edited video interview below. Dan’s and Terry’s desire is that the LCMS will someday look like the picture in Revelations 7:9.
I will end with the question at the beginning of this blog: what is the most diverse city of all? In fact John gives us the answer in his Revelations, chapters 21 and 7.
“I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes,’and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain,for the former things have passed away.”
After this I looked and saw a multitude too large to count, from every nation and tribe and people and tongue, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice, “Salvation to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
It is the only eternal city. You became a citizen when you were baptized.