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5 Benefits of a Multi-Cultural, Multi-National, Multi-Ethnic Church!

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One of the greatest joys in my life is pastoring a church that has over 20 nationalities present in any given weekend.  That’s awesome. I think if you have a monocultural church in London you are doing something wrong.  I love the variety and the life that this exposes us to. Here are 5 of my favourite things about the Tree being multi-cultural:

5.  There are people clapping on every beat.  Maybe you have never noticed this but during the praise music, black people generally clap on the upbeat, and white people generally clap on the downbeat.  At the Tree we have every beat covered!  

4.  We find out about preachers that we would never have found about otherwise.  Ever heard of Stanley Ndovie?  Man, that guy can preach.  He is from Malawi, and I would never have known about him without people from our church from that awesome nation.  I would never have heard some of the amazing preachers from Uganda, Nigeria, Ghana or India without people from those nations introducing me to them.  In fact, a lot of European and American preachers who minister mainly to a particular ethnic group I would never have heard either.  That’s a great thing, because you are getting to help learn Scriptures that maybe you wouldn’t have looked at or who wouldn’t have looked at in a particular way.  These things are really important because…

3. The body of Christ is made up of different parts – just like your body.  If all you do is fellowship with people who look like you, who act like you, who grew up where you grew up and see things your way, then you never learn anything new.  You can’t get help when you meet help.  If you got a splinter in your foot, you would never be able to take it out with another foot – you need a hand to take that splinter out.  When you reach a problem you cannot solve, calling someone just like you will just add to the ignorance in the room.  I am so glad for the wisdom I have received on topics such as giving, prayer, integrity, passion, honour, discipleship, peace, healing from people who have come from a different culture and brought wisdom and life no Englishman could ever have taught me.

2. The food.  I love groundnut soup, fufu, jollof rice; I love daals and chili, I love food from all nations.  Our church pot-lucks are amazing!  Seriously… amazing!

1..  It’s a love tester.  It proves that our community and church are built on love.  If you only love those like you, you are just like a tax-collector said Jesus.  Really – if you cannot love someone who is different from you then you cannot really love anyone.  Racism comes from fear and pride – I’m better than you, and I think that your differences will detract from me.  The counter attitude to racism is gracism: I know we are equal in Christ, and I know your differences can benefit and bless me.  That’s the attitude we are cultivating in our church full of the nations.

10 Ways to Destroy a Church

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10.  Never be willing to do anything to help.  See the church as a provider of a service, not a community you are part of.  Never step up to taking responsibility, always see yourself as a tenant not an owner!

9.  Expect everyone to notice you and what you contribute.  If they fail to notice you, get stroppy with them for being so selfish and not noticing all you do to make things happen.  If they still fail, withdraw from the group until someone contacts you and asks how you are and makes a big fuss over you.

8.  Always speak to the people you know.  Never speak to new people in case they find us friendly and then decide they want to hang around – then where would we be?

7.  Be very intolerant of people who don’t know how we do things around here.  Our unspoken dress code, our order of service, even how we make a cup of tea and coffee, where cables go at the end of the church.  Make sure these people are told in no uncertain terms that they have done something really foolish and that everyone thinks they look ridiculous.

6.  Make sure you put other people down and criticize their contributions, their ideas, their style.  Otherwise how else is anyone going to know how amazing you are?  Your candle will surely burn brighter if you blow everyone elses’ candles out. 

5.  Be unpunctual.  It’s only 5 minutes of your time – so don’t ever think that if 20 people are waiting for you to arrive that’s 100 minutes you have wasted.  it is important not to think of other people here, but only yourself – otherwise you might stop being selfish, arrive on time and actually contribute to moving things forward.

4. Always take on more than you cope with – and when you serve be like Martha – rush about, get upset at people not serving, get bitter and angry and then boom – you lose your relationship with the Lord, and make other people feel guilty.  It might not help the community grow, but it will make you feel better and superior too.  That’s what it’s all about – that’s the only reason to serve.

3. Look for things to criticize.  You will find them.  In any church, you will find them.  Make sure you don’t look at all the work the church is doing, all the exciting things that are happening, all the good that is being done.  Look for the crack in the wall, don’t praise God for the wall.  When your looking at the cracks, you don’t get inspired and challenged by the wall.  You don’t get excited by all the things happening in the building.  You keep focused on the cracks.  But the good news is that you get a reputation in the church as the crack expert.  When people want to know what is going wrong, they come to you.  You get a lot of admiration being the crack expert and the great news is this – it’s the easiest job in the church.  Getting involved in the building, mixing cement, laying bricks, working as a team – that’s too much like hard work.  No – watch the builders build, notice when they get it wrong and let others know (loudly).  That is an easy job and an easy pathway to making friends and having a following.  (NOTE: please don’t take the time to ever consider that if you choose this path all your friends are backstabbing gossips.  Just be glad that they are listening to you and feed your power base).

2.  Make sure you tip the church.  About £1 per service is about right, maybe £2 or £3 if the message is amazing.  That way you dull the feeling inside that you should contribute to the financial health of the church, and that giving to the church is part of being significant.  There are a whole bunch of internet sites, mostly written by people who don’t go to church about how the tithe is obsolete, giving to churches is wrong and you should keep your money and spend it on yourself.  Spend lots of time reading these sites in case you start giving significant amounts so the church can blaze forward and impact the world.  Every time the preacher gets a new suit or car, think all about your suits and cars that you don’t have and hold back on your giving.  Remember – it’s someone elses’ job!

1.  Never, ever be disciplined about going.  It’s been a busy weekend?  Skip church on Sunday.  Stay in bed.  Play a board game with your children – tell yourself that you are doing it for them (don’t consider that you are training them to skip church when you are tired, and that might not be a good habit to instill in a child).  It’s been a hard day at work?  Don’t go to Living Church.  They won’t miss you.  You can read the Bible yourself (don’t consider that you never do during those times).  You don’t need fellowship to advice.  Go when you feel like – and tell yourself it what Jesus wants.  Again, there are loads of websites written by people about how church is institutional, sets you back in your Christian faith and a whole host of other things.  Start to see church as an optional extra that fits into your life, not the bedrock of your Christian life.  

Imagination

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Pastor Benjamin Conway, lead pastor of Tree of Life Church and founder of the Tree of Life Network, shows here how to use your imagination to enter fully into God’s dream and your dream for your life. This message is inspiring and challenging and will let you be all you can be!

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