Recently, someone shared with me how they used to get angry when hearing about negative social incidents involving their race. However, this person said he now feels more compassion and understanding toward other racial groups after attending Come Together, our racial unity event we hosted.
In April, the church journeyed through a series called “The Culture of Heaven: A Biblical Perspective on Diversity.”
THE SERMON SERIES ENCOURAGED BELIEVERS TO MODEL HOW PEOPLE OF DIFFERENT RACIAL, CULTURAL OR ETHNIC GROUPS CAN LOVE AND SERVE EACH OTHER.
The four-week series concluded with four additional weeks of people meeting in Come Together dialogue groups to talk in a deeper way about the messages.
Feedback from the groups included people making new cross cultural relationships, cultural lessons being learned and even some conflict ensued about issues which can contribute to forging meaningful relationships. One of the ten groups spontaneously decided to continue meeting and inviting others to be a part of their community. Another group decided to occasionally visit churches of other minority racial groups. Almost all the groups communicated a desire to do more to increase racial and ethic unity in some way.
Second Corinthians 5:17 says we have been given the ministry of reconciliation.
THIS MEANS WE HAVE A RESPONSIBILITY TO SERVE AS AMBASSADORS BETWEEN GOD AND MAN.
This also means we are called as ambassadors between people groups. We can represent God to the world when people see believers love, respect and honor each other; especially those who are different from us in ways such as race or ethnicity.
Because I have developed racially diverse relationships throughout my adult life, I have had experiences of people around me saying God has convicted them of a prejudiced or racist attitude toward some other person or group of people. In all these cases I never spoke about diversity, but it seemed that my presence among people outside my own race had a meaningful impact on those around me. If we can be present among people who don’t look like us it creates an opportunity for God to do a work of unifying people.
LET’S KEEP COMING TOGETHER.
As we continue to move forward, I encourage you to find places where you can be a Kingdom Ambassador. Whether it means inviting your neighbors over for dinner or engaging with someone different than you at work, we have the ability to bring Kingdom culture into every sphere we’re in.
By Vincent Carpenter – Adult Pastor
Today Vincent Carpenter wrapped up our Culture of Heaven series with a message on unity. Throughout the Bible we saw Jesus respond to crisis with unity. Each one of us carries the culture of Heaven within us, and we have been sanctified by God to be in the middle of crisis and bring unity. Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message:
- “If we will be present with one another, God can use us.”
- “The culture of Heaven starts with the person of Jesus.”
- “When Jesus and His mission are clear in our hearts, everything else can fall into place.”
- “Jesus simply responds to crisis with unity.”
- “We create unity in our culture when we give everything we have.”
- “When we give our life, we find life.”
- “We have been set apart for a divine purpose.”
- “God wants His people to be right in the middle of crisis.”
- “When we pray, Heaven touches earth.”
- “When we are unified, God is glorified.”
- “The culture of Heaven is not an idea or a sermon series, it’s a present reality.”
- “We carry the culture of Heaven.”
- “God has called us all to be bridge builders.”
- As we continue to move forward, we encourage you to find ways to create unity in your sphere of influence. Whether it’s befriending your neighbor or talking to a new co-worker for the first time, we believe that when we step out and create unity, the culture of Heaven comes to earth.
- You are invited to join us for Come Together. Come Together is an opportunity for members of Antioch and the Waco community to meet in small groups and share our hearts on the topic of racial unity in our community. You will be placed in a racially diverse group of about 6-10 people that will meet in a home in Waco on April 10th, 17th and 24th. On Monday, May 1st all the small groups will gather in the Auditorium at 6:30 p.m. to celebrate the progress that has been achieved through these groups. Learn more and sign up to join a group here.
- God is moving in our Spanish ministry and we encourage you to be a part! The Spanish service meets at 5 p.m. on Sunday evenings. All of the sermons are translated in to English. Learn more about our Spanish Ministry here.
This Sunday we are wrapping up our Culture of Heaven series. These past few weeks we have taken a look at diversity with a biblical perspective, and and we’ve built a foundation of ways to bring the full Kingdom of God to earth. We encourage you to continue addressing what it looks like to celebrate diversity in our community with a Kingdom mindset.
CHECK OUT SOME RESOURCES ON DIVERSITY AND THE CHURCH:
Divided by Faith: Evangelical Faith and the Problem of Race in America by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith
Divided by Faith takes a look at the issue of racism in America and how the Church can make a difference. Through extended research, including 2,000 phone calls and hundreds of face-to-face interviews, Emerson and Smith provide an in-depth analysis of how racism is still affecting our society, but there is hope in the way we, as the Church, respond.
United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race by Michael Emerson and Curtiss Paul Deyoung
In this book, DeYoung and Emerson discuss the idea that the Church holds the key to unlocking the issue of racism in our nation. Diversity is beautiful and we need it in our congregation. The Church has an opportunity to bring healing and racial reconciliation to our nation by embracing diversity.
People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States by Michael Emerson and Rodney Woo
In People of the Dream, Emerson and Woo study how multiracial congregations can be a reality across America. They discuss how diversity in the Church not only builds bridges, but also facilitate cross-cultural relationships that wouldn’t naturally come together. Diversity in the local church has the power to restore and bring hope to a community.
One Body One Spirit by George Yancey
In this book, Yancey provides practicals for people committed to bringing cultural, ethnic and racial reconciliation into their congregation. As the Church, we want to be equipped to minister to every tribe and tongue, and Yancey goes into how we can do that.
Today Vincent Carpenter continued our Culture of Heaven series with a message on engaging and empowering those around us. Many times, it can feel like the issue of racism is so big that we can’t really do anything. As the people of God, we have the opportunity to embrace diversity and engage and empower people, regardless of their race. Check out some practicals and takeaways from today’s message:
- We all have to come to the realization that we are made in the image of God.
- When we’re secure in our identity, we can live sacrificially and the Kingdom of God moves forward.
- When the mission is clear, the culture of Heaven easily becomes a reality.
- Racism does not always express itself through individual relationships. Often, racism expresses itself through our systems and cultural structures.
- We need to challenge the systemic issue that keeps us apart so the mission can be accomplished.
- God wants to give us a revelation that peoples’ differences should not diminish their value
- The revelation we need from God is that the right way is not always the White, Black or Hispanic way.
- We get to play a part in seeing the Kingdom of God advance, and that gives us our worth.
- You engage with someone when you go beyond what is expected of you
- If everyone in your world is just like you, you are actually the person in need. We need diversity.
- If one person dominates, there cannot be authentic relationship.
- We have opportunities to engage and empower those around us.
Today, Vincent gave us two practical ways that we can respond to the issue of racism.
- 1. Engage Diversity // Think of a couple of people that you can deeper engage with in your sphere of influence.
- 2. Empower Diverse People // As people of God, we have authority to speak in to peoples’ lives and call them up to something greater.
Today we kicked off our new series, The Culture of Heaven: A Biblical Perspective on Diversity. Jimmy Seibert and Vincent Carpenter shared on the beauty of God displayed through diversity. We, as the Church, should be the model for what diversity looks like in our society. When we come together, we see the Kingdom of Heaven come to earth. Check out some of our takeaways from today’s message:
- If you only live in one segment of society, then that’s all you know and you begin to build prejudices off the commentary of others. – Jimmy
- When you build relationships, and get to know people, your whole world view changes. – Jimmy
- There is no one that is not a direct expression of the image of the living God, that makes everybody beautiful and of value. – Jimmy
- We have to deal with sin in order to bring redemption or reconciliation in any area of life. – Jimmy
- The mission of Jesus is to heal our hearts, restore our lives and bring us back together. – Jimmy
- The mosaic of God is the glory of God on the earth. – Jimmy
- It is God’s plan to use the Church to change society. – Vincent
- We, as the Church, are supposed to be the model of what diversity looks like. – Vincent
- Jesus gave His life, and therefore all of humanity is risen to new life. – Vincent
- In the Kingdom, there is always an abundance. – Vincent
- The culture of Heaven becomes reality when someone chooses to make a sacrifice. – Vincent
- If we sacrifice, all of us move forward. – Vincent
This week consider what sacrifices you can make to make the culture of Heaven a reality. It might be reaching out to someone at work or exposing yourself to a different culture in our community, whatever it is, we’ll see the Kingdom come in each of our sacrifices.