In October 2021, Engage West Midlands ran their first Re-Imagine Conference with leaders’ breakfasts across the West Midlands, and some Re-Imagine workshops in Birmingham. One of the main sessions was given by Dr Stephen Beck author of The Mosaik Miracle: How God is Building a New Church for Refugees, Immigrants and Nationals, on the topic of Planting an Intercultural Church. We also had a worship team from the Ethnos Network in New Jersey lead us and model some very engaging and inspiring intercultural worship.
We live in a day when the next generation of churches need to be able to engage interculturally, as well welcome and mobilise the many immigrants that God is bringing to our towns and cities.
Here are some of the key teaching points that Stephen presented to us with a passion, and his experience of seeing 15 congregations planted over about 6 years.
If you want to plant an intercultural church…
1. Love, respect and celebrate nationals, immigrants and refugees as equals and equally worthy of highest honour.
See every single one as created in the image of God.
See immigration waves and immigrants as God sent (from migrants to missionaries).
See each one as ‘precious in His sight’: the only thing that gives a person lasting significance is not level of education, wealth, career, political association, personal history, sexual orientation, citizenship status, skin colour… but being a child of God.
See each one as a potential Abraham, Moses, Ruth, Esther.
2. Be willing to reach across to people who are completely ‘other’.
Jesus, my forerunner: the woman at the well – Jesus broke the rules of political correctness.
Bonhoeffer, my hero: “the church is only the church of Jesus when it is a church for others.”
Kathi, my example: praying with people is bringing God into their experience.
3. Be absolutely intentional about creating an intercultural church.
It doesn’t happen on its own.
It will not happen if you cater to people’s natural desires or demands.
It can only happen if the entire leadership is fully committed to the mission and the principles, practices, sacrifices and paradigm shifts that are required.
It can only happen if the nationals (base culture) reach out and embrace the immigrants and refugees (guest cultures).
4. Be willing to learn from others.
The Mosaik Miracle: How God is Building a New Church for Refugees, Immigrants and Nationals (by Stephen Beck) – available on Amazon & Kindle.
Visit churches that are doing it.
Enter a Training Programme.
Update: Stephen Visited again in May 2022 for a training day - teaching available here: https://www.engageuk.org.uk/post/network-network-network