Seek and Find
Bridges for Racial Reconciliation - Part 2
Traditionally as evangelicals we have always implied, if not demanded that the minority group assimilate the values, views, and concepts of the majority group. I shared with Mr. Dominguez that what we’re striving for is a mutual appreciation of the variety created by God, in a unified body of Christ. We are predominantly an English speaking congregation, that’s why we are focusing on 2nd and 3rd generation Hispanics. This was a helpful clarification for him.
I began to question Mr. Dominguez about the values, views, and cultures of Hispanics. I shared with him my desire to understand what makes Hispanics who they are. What are their dreams, fears, and hopes? He shared some very enlightening insights, for example many Hispanics are raised Catholics, and come to America as Catholics. They see religion as a very important part of their life.
Secondly, Hispanics see family as a very important part of life. The family unit normally is made up of father, mother, children, and even grandparents.
Thirdly, eating is an important part of life. Food is seen as a gathering point of unity. The family table is an important part of the bonding process for families. One insightful point Mr. Dominguez shared is that Hispanics see the sharing of food by other people groups as a way of building friendship. This is a big part of the Hispanic culture of relationship building.
Fourthly, the Hispanic culture is a very celebratory culture as reflected in festivals, music and clothing.
One observation I shared with Mr. Dominguez was the number of Hispanics in our community who tend to be Charismatic, Pentecostal, or Assemblies of God. I asked him if there were an explanation for this.
His reply was as follows, “As I stated earlier, Catholicism is the predominate religion in Mexico. Catholicism involves a lot of symbols, sainthood concepts, works, and artifacts. Many of these concepts are found in the Charismatic denominations of America. A second important factor was the celebratory style of music in many Charismatic churches is reflective of the celebratory lifestyle and culture of Hispanic heritage. Finally, the teaching of the miraculous found in Charismatic churches is also another reason Hispanics are often planting or joining Charismatic churches across the world.”
The traditional, fundamental, and conservative Baptist churches are not reflective of these values, views, and concepts. They are normally willing to change, but expect through assimilation processes to make the minority group reflective of their particular church culture. I am convinced and believe the author’s of “What Color is Your God?” are equally convinced, that if we as conservative evangelicals are going to reach and disciple various people groups in our churches we must make adjustments that do not compromise the message of the Gospel and the principles of Holy living.
The conversation with Bro. Dominguez was refreshing and insightful, especially in light of the information found in the book “What Color is Your God.” The most important fact for evangelical churches is the changing of our feelings and education that focuses on that is the task which lies before us.
The key to this will be leadership. I believe there are 12 important principles that leaders must remember in the establishment of multiethnic churches, that I have discovered from my research on this subject.
1. Leaders are genuinely interested in the other people. People like attention from others. They want to feel their ideas and opinions are heard.
2. Leaders must learn to listen. The importance here is that you must learn to listen with your eyes and your ears.
3. Leaders must practice patience. No snap judgments. Learn to make allowances for inexperience.
4. Leaders must never take people for granted. Express gratitude and appreciation for the work being done. A word of praise serves as a significant self motivator.
5. Leaders must be concerned about others. A leader’s heart must be filled with compassion toward others. Feelings of genuine interest in others cannot be faked.
6. Leaders must treat each person as an individual.
7. Leaders must create team efforts.
Three keys to creating team efforts are:
A. A team must have a reason for being, to which all members are committed.
B. A team cannot function without good communication, since teamwork requires interdepend
C. A team must have openness and trust.
8. Leaders must generate excitement about the mission. Excitement and enthusiasm are contagious. The task must have purpose and meaning.
9. Leaders should be willing to share responsibility and authority. Asking a person to lead without appropriate authority creates a potential for poor morale and failure of the project.
10. Leaders must get the right person in the right job.
11. Leaders must keep working toward goals. A goal oriented environment encourages workers to do their best. The organizational objectives and goals should be clear.
12. Leaders must challenge persons to become involved in a mission.