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It’ll Be More Colorful...

Diversity is not merely a value of a democratic society. In other words, it’s not a “political” ideology. We don’t have to live in the American 50s/ 60s or South African apartheid to understand that we are a nation broken by hatred, superiority and a festering racism. These aren’t new phenomena and unfortunately come well-embedded in our sin nature. But, Jesus’ cross death saves us from that, too, and reconciles us to the Father. Consequently, it became a model of what we can experience in real life.

As the book of Acts unfolds, the Church becomes more colorful. The “thread” of ethnicity starts out as (Jewish) homogenous, but by the time you get to the end of Acts, it is multi-ethnic. God’s plan all along is to save from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Revelation 7:9).

A church honestly reading the Scriptures sees this and then aligns her values, priorities and strategies to become it. Sometimes, churches try too hard or force it, but sadly, more often than not, they haven’t tried hard enough. If we were a church in rural Wisconsin, it might be harder to achieve diversity because the towns themselves are predominantly homogenous. However, we live in in a big city where the nations tend to migrate. But in our city of 77 distinct neighborhoods, there’s still noticeable racial division. It’s what Martin Luther King, Jr. said: “The most divided hour in our nation’s week is Sunday at 11am.” But it doesn’t have to be that way. Unity, opportunity, liberty and justice “for all” weren’t just MLK’s dream. He had the courage to speak up and labor for it. It’s been God’s idea all along.

While it’s not untrue that Chicago’s northside is predominantly white, it’s incomplete. So long as we live in a global city, we should be open as a church to reflecting the diversity of our city. As we intensely focus on our parish neighborhood, we ought labor hard to be a multi-racial and multiethnic church. Let’s not to be mesmerized, however, by diversity as a romantic ideal, but instead, be willing to repent of our classicism, racism, apathy and ignorance working hard to disciple all peoples into mature Christ-followers.

Posted by Will Pareja with

Reproducing by "Losing"

“Less is more.” This adage has relieved many an individual oversaturated by information in a digital age. But, in the life of the church, isn’t “more”, better? If ASCC were to accomplish the mission that we’ve set out on, what would that look like? We’re answering that in this series by proposing: conversions and baptisms, families with children grow up here; we become both a compelling and controversial community, and, multiple leaders are being developed.

But hear this key question out:

“Once we start producing a pipeline of maturing leaders and members, do we keep them all to ourselves?”

Answer: No.

We’ll know we are accomplishing our mission of making King Jesus unignorable through the establishment of redemptive presence in our parish neighborhood as we start “bleeding” really good leaders. Granted, you need some good leaders to stick around for a long period of time in one place, but other than seeing members get re-located to other regions for jobs or promoted to heaven, one of the “best” ways for a church to build Christ’s kingdom is by strategically “losing” people. That is, when we plan to send members to start a new church or breathe new life into a declining one in another parish neighborhood, we are losing them to a good cause, a bigger cause than our own church. Like the starfish who reproduces by losing one of its arms, we as the local church do well to plan for losing for the sake of someone else’s “win.” And, like a starfish, we hope that our “lost” arm (that sent-out member), will grow back through other stronger or new members. Or, consider how great it would be if our church matured to the point that we actually sent out some of our people overseas as gospel workers (missions).   

We shouldn’t hoard up our people and “pennies” only for this immediate church. We exist for the SPREAD of God’s glory through and with other local churches. We can’t do it alone. We need other churches, and other churches need us. Nor should we want to do these noble works to make a name for ourselves. “Jesus must increase, and we must decrease” (John 3:30).

In the end, Lose=WIN.

Posted by Will Pareja with