Get Renew.org Weekly Emails

Want fresh teachings and disciple making content? Sign up to receive a weekly newsletters highlighting our resources and new content to help equip you in your disciple making journey. We’ll also send you emails with other equipping resources from time to time.

Q&A – How Does Christianity Relate to Other Cultures?


It’s easy to think of your own cultural as superior to others. When you become a citizen of God’s kingdom, how should you interact with other cultures? I recently sat down with four church leaders who are doing this well and asked them questions which get at the heart of how churches can be more intentional about pursuing multiethnic, multicultural churches. The church leaders are Michael Patterson (Atlanta, GA), Marcos Mercado (Wilmington, DE), Ronnie Rose (Greenville, SC), and Kerry Cox (St. Louis, MO). Other articles in this series: “Why Is It Worth It?” “What Gets in the Way?” “What Habits Can Break Barriers”


Q: Multiethnic churches mean getting used to more than one culture. How does Christianity relate to other cultures?

Ronnie: If we’re going to fulfill God’s commission of making disciples of all nations, then we’ve got to think like kingdom people, not primarily as one culture or another. As kingdom people, we start with the inside and then work our way out. We allow God to transform our most fundamental identity. Whatever color you are, I think we have to have more of a kingdom identity.

Paul was an example of this. Paul was the Jew of Jews, a Hebrew of Hebrews, right? Yet he became “all things to all people” (1 Cor. 9:22). He was able to become weak to win the weak and strong to win the strong. And I think he was able to do that because he was a kingdom man more than a Jewish man. This kingdom identity enabled him to adapt. It enabled him to embrace different cultures.

I think it’s funny that he says, “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews” (1 Cor. 9:20). That’s weird because he was a Jew. But I think that it speaks to the transformation that he had to being a citizen of Jesus’ kingdom and having a kingdom mentality and identity.


“As a kingdom person, you can serve people who are not like you, but without losing your cultural identity in the process.”


It’s also important to note that, as a kingdom person, you can serve people who are not like you, but without losing your cultural identity in the process. I don’t think that Paul ever lost his heritage or his Jewishness, nor did he require Gentile Christians to give up their cultural identity. We need to resist making people conform to our likeness in order for them to be accepted.

Mike: Yeah, Ronnie is alluding to our tendency to expect people to conform to the dominant culture. Whatever is the dominant culture, we expect people to embrace it. God taught me a lot of lessons early on as a minister. I was from the South, yet living in New York City, and my first ministry was working with Dominican, Puerto Rican, and Ecuadorian cultures. I had no cultural reference. But I just went into the environment, tried to be a Christian, and tried to show gratitude and appreciation.

Marcos: I think back to Peter and how he really struggled with allowing Christianity to be truly multicultural. He would sit with Gentiles and eat with them until his fellow Jews from Jerusalem showed up. Then he didn’t want to sit with the Gentiles anymore. Paul rebuked him because Paul saw that as wrong.


“If we’re not reaching other cultures, that’s wrong, especially if your area is changing.”


Like Paul, I think we need to treat it for what it is. If we’re not reaching other cultures, that’s wrong, especially if your area is changing. Especially now with churches having an online presence, there is no reason we can’t cross these boundaries. Obviously, we don’t want superficial. I know churches that would just hire a diverse worship team, but that’s not really crossing the boundaries. The real questions are, whom do you eat with? Who are your ten closest friends? Who are your kids’ best friends?

Kerry: It all goes back to the question of whether we are going to be disciple makers. I just don’t know how you can be a real disciple maker and not have your church become more diverse. Because when you make disciples, you are going to run into people who are different than you. I really think that, for churches that don’t have any diversity at all, either they’re in a completely non-diverse area where no one is around you, or they’re not really trying hard to make disciples.


“I just don’t know how you can be a real disciple maker and not have your church become more diverse.”


When our churches are making disciples and experiencing a diversity of cultures, we should celebrate the differences in each other. At the same time, any tension caused by these differences dissolves in importance because what really matters is the kingdom.

Get Renew.org Weekly Emails

Want fresh teachings and disciple making content? Sign up to receive a weekly newsletters highlighting our resources and new content to help equip you in your disciple making journey. We’ll also send you emails with other equipping resources from time to time.

You Might Also Like

Who Was Sarah in the Bible?

Who Was Sarah in the Bible?

Who was Sarah in the Bible? God continually looks for those people who will be faithful to participate in His plan to bring salvation to the world. Enter Abraham and Sarah. God called Abram and his wife Sarai to leave their home and go on a journey of faith that would change the world. God’s […]

More
2024 National RENEW.org Gathering

2024 National RENEW.org Gathering

CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS I am the lead guy at both discipleship.org and renew.org. Both organizations champion Jesus-style disciple making. Discipleship.org focuses on Jesus’ disciple making method. Renew.org focuses on Jesus’ teachings and method. Discipleship.org is broader, for a larger Evangelical audience. I am committed to it because I am called to champion Jesus-style disciple […]

More
Does Science Put God out of a Job?

Does Science Put God out of a Job?

One of my favorite movies is Nacho Libre, starring Jack Black as a Mexican monk who becomes a champion wrestler. Although Nacho is a devout Catholic, his wrestling partner “Esqueleto” is a skeptic. Before a wrestling match against an intimidating duo, Nacho tells Esqueleto, “Pray to the Lord for strength,” to which Esqueleto responds, “I […]

More