In south Florida, being a multicultural church is a practical necessity. In other words, there is simply no alternative. I wrote about the fact that growing a multicultural church is both a gospel commitment and a local imperative. God has commanded us to make disciples of all nations and bring the gospel to the ends of the earth. Well, people from “the ends of the earth” live in south Florida. The diversity here demands that we sell out to multicultural outreach.
Repent of Racism and Classicism
South Florida is about as diverse as it gets. To have a church here that isn’t integrated or multicultural, you almost have to try to be exclusive. For many years, Baptist churches in the south had a bad reputation for doing just that. Our foundation is faulty when it comes to racial issues. In the 1800’s Southern Baptists actually split from the Northern Baptists over the issue of slavery. This religiously based racism was rooted in a wrong understanding of certain passages Scripture as well as a failure to believe that ALL people are created in God’s image. Our church was started in 1901 as a Southern Baptist Church, and for most of our history we were almost completely Anglo. We bear appropriate culpability for our own personal and institutional sins, both conscious and unconscious, in this area. At Family Church we publicly repent of any racism or classicism that has been exhibited in our church’s history. We see those sinful attitudes and behaviors as contrary to the gospel of Jesus.
Thankfully, things have changed a lot around here in the last 30 years or so. If you attend Family Church today you will see that we are still majority white, but we definitely have significant diversity on the platform and in the seats. Diversity isn’t always easy to navigate – people really do see the world differently. And increasing diversity doesn’t lessen the sins of the past nor negate the racial/ethnic/class challenges we face as individuals, a community, and a church. But the diversity at church and in our community is getting us ready for the diversity in heaven – and that’s a good thing.
Strive for Integration
Martin Luther King once called 11:00 am on Sunday morning the most segregated hour in America. Unfortunately, he is still right in many ways. We can’t let his dream (which is really a gospel dream) die. We have to chase after it, live it, breathe it, and pursue it. We have to strive for full integration because it’s the most pleasing to God and it makes the most sense. I say to anyone at Family Church who’s not on board – get on board! Because at Family Church we are fully committed to being multicultural and to seeing the lives of people from all walks of life transformed by the gospel.