The 2nd National Multi-ethnic Church Conference will gather more than 600 like-minded ministry pioneers - experienced local church pastors and planters, network and denominational leaders, authors and educators - passionately pursuing the establishment of healthy multi-ethnic and economically diverse churches for the sake of the Gospel in an increasingly diverse society.There ended up being around 1,000 people there, and it was an excellent experience. I went with six others with whom I am teamed up in pursuing a missional initiative in the Westside neighborhood here in Santa Barbara, along with the five staff pastors from the church and over 100 Free Methodist leaders from Southern California.
The time would have been worth it simply for the drive down and back in terms of intentional time for our Westside Initiative team to talk, process, think out loud and even disagree. But fortunately, the conference also provided some excellent insights. That doesn't mean I loved every speaker -- some actually infuriated me -- but overall, I was challenged and encouraged by several of them.
The conference was absolutely jam-packed with presentations, and they used an interesting format: there were three plenary sessions each day, and four speakers in each plenary slot, using a sort of TED Talk format. Each one was given 17 minutes to speak, and came one after the other. The four messages in each plenary session did not really relate to each other, and I guess that was ok. What I liked about this format was that if I wasn't feelin' it for the speaker, I knew it would be over soon, and if it was a compelling one, I hung on every word, knowing the time would speed by quickly. On top of all that, there were seminar tracks to follow, two seminars each day. Let's just say it was like drinking from a firehose.
Hands down, the highlight was hearing from Dr. John Perkins, who really is the mentor and leader of this movement toward multi-cultural ministry and church community. (I'm including a photo from my phone... grainy, but a visual reminder of this great day.) He has served in the trenches for 53 years, and the wisdom gleaned from such a life is immeasurably valuable. He went over his 17 minutes, and was I ever thankful. Praise God for his faithful service.
Yesterday I spent two hours poring over my notes from the conference, typing some of them up while discarding others. As is my way, I also ended up noting some books mentioned by presenters that I want to read as a follow up. If you like Twitter, you can just go to #mosaix2013 and see many of the comments and quotes that flowed from the time. But here is my own twitter feed of sorts...
"The church should not and cannot be segregated. Between 1990-2009, US population grew by 56 million. But how many became active church members? Only 450k. 1% at most. We're undermining the gospel." Mark DeYmaz, co-founder of Mosaix Global Network
"Luke 4 is also the Great Commission. Intrinsic to the gospel, it is preached to the poor first. Matthew 28 must be read in light of Luke 4, which was preached at the beginning of Jesus' ministry." Mark DeYmaz
"Why do we let the culture of America rather than the gospel shape our churches?" Derwin Gray
"The multi-ethnic church race: not a sprint, but a marathon for life." Paul Louis Metzger
"It is no use to walk anywhere to preach, unless our walking is our preaching." St. Francis (quoted by Eugene Cho)
"When the grass looks greener on the other side, water the grass you are standing on!" Eugene Cho
[In pursuing multi-cultural relationships...] "If you're not uncomfortable at least 25% of the time, you're not pushing limits." Curtiss DeYoung
"In that space between idea and actuality, best practices won't get you there! The only thing to get you through the gap is a deep and abiding conviction that the scriptures command us to do this. Peter even missed it. It's hard." Leonce Crump
"This conference has helped me to complete a life. Like Simeon waiting for Messiah, then meeting Jesus in the temple. I've seen some hope fulfilled. I feel finished. I couldn't be more joyful... Everything else we do is minor. No greater call than to be called to the service of Jesus... This renewal is of God. It's gonna happen. The world will see what can't happen politically or socially. This will show what God can do." Dr. John Perkins
"Find out what 'good news' means for your neighborhood." Christena Cleveland
"God is personal, but never private." Jim Wallis
"It is not admirable to be multi-racial in the Body of Christ. It is intrinsic... Racism is a sin against God." Jim Wallis
I hope to spend the rest of my days pursuing this way of ministry. We were reminded by many of the speakers that we must be in this journey for the long haul. Christena Cleveland reminded us that Jesus lived on earth for thirty years before he even started his ministry! But I am more convinced than ever that "to whom much is given, much more is required (Luke 12:48), and I am so grateful for the community I am apart of.
I am assuming there will be follow up materials (articles, videos, etc.) from the conference, so stay tuned. Meanwhile, may we all be praying for the vision of eternity from Revelation 7:9-10,
After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”