It’s 1:05pm and in the last 4 hours I’ve met with eight high impact missionaries on our Chi Alpha team here in Santa Cruz. Six of them happen to be ethnic minorities. Prior to that I had a staff huddle with two couples that are directors of campus ministries my wife and I planted nearly 20 years ago. Their marriages and ministries are thriving. All of them are ethnic minorities. Of the five Chi Alpha ministries we are focused on planting in the next three years on the West Coast, four directors happen to be ethnic minorities. Two of them happened to be women. It wasn’t until I sat down to write this blog a few minutes ago that I realized just how blessed we are to be a small part in the ever growing picture of empowering a heavenly reflection of His image bearers into leadership.
We didn’t arrive here nor will we proceed into greater measures of kingdom reflection by focusing on recruiting tactics in ministry or leadership that are based on earthly ethnicity or culture. As always, if you ask me about kingdom fruit I will direct your attention to the kingdom focus by which it was produced. The driving convictions that have helped us move forward come from a few streams of divine thinking that I would like to unpack.
1. The most authentic expression of the gospel is delivered by the gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:4 & 14:24-25). When the focal point of finding pre-Christians is based on what we see and hear the Father doing and saying, we eliminate opportunity for personal comfort or bias to direct the steps of beautiful feet that bring the good news. This focus is tied to the next in that there is no one more relevant than the Holy Spirit. “Outreach” often gets reduced to a form of godliness that denies His power--opportunistic events that lie well within our ability with no need of His power. These events are noble, but often create risk-free environments for our students to show up and meet people within pre-measured settings. Limited to the attractional value our outreaches hold to individual ethnicities. The Lord modeled perfect missionary work in articulation of the gospel and demonstration of power. Not one without the other. The gifts of God reveal the goodness of God and make room for the hardest of Truth to be met with humility.
This focus has broken the weakness of personal bias and comfort in reaching students on our campuses. It expands the gateway of bringing people to Christ according to the measure of Gods heart for all ethnicities. This is our foundation to becoming a leadership gateway for Ethnic minorities.
2. Kingdom culture is the perfected state of all culture (Revelation 7:9-10). We do not become culturally relevant by imitating our culture, we become culturally relevant by exemplifying everything our culture was designed to become. This doesn’t mean we ask students or staff to reject their cultural heritage, but our focus is on each person anchoring in their eternal identity in Christ so their culture will be displayed in power and purity, giving glory to God. The Apostle Paul said “I regard no man according to the flesh” (2 Corinthians 5:16). When we remove our focus from attempting to portray expertise, connect based on individual cultures and place it on an authentic display of kingdom culture (His kingdom come…on earth as it is in heaven), Christ is lifted up and all mankind is drawn to Him. This frees the heart of leaders and students to aim at pleasing God and re-presenting Him in love and power rather than the often inadequate attempts to connecting at a carnal level with the multiplicity of ethnicities represented on campus. We were all created to worship. If each believer's witness and connection is an expression of their worship to Him, it creates a gateway for all nationalities to discover, through experience, the God who made them in His image. In other words, a focus on bearing His image begets freedom to bear His image. So our personal culture becomes a being a follower within the perfect culture of His kingdom.
3. We are raising fathers and mothers, not kids (1 Thessalonians 1:6). This is a primary key in becoming a leadership gateway for emerging ethnic minorities. Isaiah 46:10 shows us that our Father’s focus starts with the end from the beginning. When people seek an end of great numerical growth they will always want more students. This is noble assuming the desire to increase attendance is for the sake of spiritual growth and maturity in every attendee. But when the foundational focus of our ministry becomes raising fathers and mothers in the faith we enter into the trans-generational element of spiritual leadership. Similarly we celebrate the desire of any parents that want to have kids. But when that desire is rooted and articulated in the focus of raising great fathers and mothers, it actually shifts the words and actions of how people parent. Remember, semantics are seeds. Our words are the seeds that will form the eternal fruit of our leadership in prayer and instruction. When we form the future by faith just like our Father, in the end from the beginning, our ultimate focus does not become distracted by our immediate options. Our aim to disciple responsible and reproducing men and women of God materializes in the way we raise up and release leaders of all ethnicities into the roles God designed them for. In contrast, when our ministry goal doesn’t exceed “getting more staff on our team” or “getting more students in the door” the impotence of our dreams often only yields our self-sufficient ability to get people like ourselves around us. A focus on raising fathers and mothers of all those entrusted to us will require our hearts to prepare every individual for leadership within our Fathers house without selectively limiting others to our personal comforts or bias.
4. When you get cut my blood falls to the ground (Acts 17:26). We are called to “Reconcile students to Christ…” because this is the only foundation by which mankind can find all authentic reconciliation. There are an unending array of fractions and injustices with varying histories and complexities. But Acts 17:26 says, “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord…” (Italicize added). We have all scattered only to be gathered again under one Lord. The reconciliation of all people can't be accomplished in earthly terms--since the beginning of time mankind has found a way to be divided. But the reconciliation of all people CAN be accomplished in the eternal reality of our identities where our bloodlines are reconnected in Christ. Real brotherhood is found in the place where our earthly ethnicities submit to our heavenly identity. I can mourn and rejoice in harmony with anyone who is part of the same Body as me, the Body of Christ.
Let me say this frankly. If you want to be a leadership gateway for emerging ethnic minorities, it begins with a commitment to Spirit-led evangelism. The same Spirit that led Jesus to prophecy over a Samaritan woman, Paul to perform works of power amongst the Gentiles, and Peter to become the Apostle to the Jews will lead every staff and student into kingdom diversity that could not be manufactured by any measure of tactical focus on ethnicity. When we keep our focus on the ultimate, our prayers and plans will flush out to reflect and produce that which our heart bleeds for. It isn’t that Jesus won’t give us tactics, it is that His tactics are much simpler than ours. Abiding in connection and grafting all ethnic branches to His vine is a product of authentic witness and practice that flows from a real relationship with God and others. This may seem too simple and and risky. The only risk is that we have less perceived control over the outcome. But our control is only an illusion. If you are exhausted from attempts at making your ministry look like heaven on earth, I challenge you to begin with these four focuses. This is not a comprehensive blog, but I know the fruit we are bearing today can not be attributed to any measure of tactical effort. I pray God will grace you in fulfilling all that is in your heart for reaching and raising up all ethnicities He has surrounded you with. If I can ever be of service to you or your team please don’t hesitate to reach out.