What are new possibilities for community for times like these?

Dr. Tom Sine

 

by tom sine —

I am deeply concerned that too many of us miss new possibilities for community because we don’t pay attention to “times like these.”  In my first post on community I expressed concern that many of us, including those in leadership, are not preparing the middle class to get ready for a new normal of more intergenerational communities because of a likely challenge of decreasing incomes for many of us in the future.

I am also concerned that most people in the church are oblivious to a new opportunity for community…. welcoming a new multi-cultural America by 2040.  In fact the kids in our elementary schools today will be the first generation that will grow up in an America that is no longer dominantly European.  The first problem is that 11 am Sunday morning is still the most segregated hour in America.  The second problem is that many church leaders not only aren’t aware of the coming of a multicultural American future… they seem largley oblivious to the opportunity it presents.

It presents those of us who are white with the opportunity to accept the gifts we have to receive from our African American, Latino, Asian and many immigrant neighbors as well as share our gifts with them.

The Covenant Church in America is doing one of the most impressive jobs of preparing their people to celebrate a new multi-cultural America.  All their new church plants are outwardly focused in mission.  Half of them are multicultural.  For example, Sanctuary Covenant in Minneapolis is 40% African American, 40% white and 20% Asian and Latino.  Nearly 50% of their input is invested in economic development in the struggling neighborhood where they are located as well as in global mission.

What distinguishes them is not just their care for those in need but they are discovering how to become family across race, class and culture.  They are a church getting ready for the new American future.  For those of us that are considering community shouldn’t we consider getting to know our family in Christ who come from many different cultures?

As we celebrate the great influence of Dr. Martin Luther King this week let me share a unique opportunity that the Covenant Church offers their members.  On February 3 to 6 they are offering their members the opportunity to join their annual Sankofa Journey…  a  4 day cross-racial prayer trip down the Civil Rights trail including Selma and Dr. King’s Church.  One member said Sankofa not only  keeps us connected but reflecting on the kingdom of God in our relationships with one another.

What could your church do to begin to get acquainted with family from ethnic, immigrant or multicultural churches in your region?  How can you help prepare your young to not only live in a new majority future but to learn from the richness of many other cultures?

Next week we will have the first of our guest contributors on what they are discovering in terms of new expressions of community for times like this.