Of great interest to organizations and churches these days is the challenge of a multi-ethnic community. What does it mean to be a multi-ethnic organization? A multi-ethnic church? A multi-ethnic ministry? I don’t have all the answers for what that means or what it should mean. But maybe I can offer a few learnings from my own journey that can help catalyze greater development for others.
Prior to moving to the Philippines to teach and serve at the International Graduate School of Leadership, I was serving in an ethnic minority ministry for about five years in the United States.
I am white. In those years I continued to journey through a couple key things related to what it means to be white. I had to explore what it means to myself and what it means to others from different cultural backgrounds.
Serving cross-culturally has been a powerful learning journey for me as it relates to multi-ethnic ministry and what it is that God is at work to do in the lives of all of us. Prior to leaving the United States I was encouraged in my transition to write up some of my key learnings learnings from this season of ministry – lessons that were personally transformative for me and that have continued to shape and refine just what servant leadership and transformational leadership truly are in a world full of differences and imbalances of power.
So while I will not try to provide solutions or analysis of what it takes to be “multi-ethnic” as many aspire, I do hope to share some of the realities and the ways people are impacted as I’ve experienced and observed them. The majority of these posts were written 2 years ago and I never posted them because…moving to different country is hard!
I happen to have been a history major an undergraduate with the Strengthsfinder themes of context, intellection, and learner. The only reason I share those things is that it means I have a strong aversion to repeating mistakes that can be learned from as well as a strong drive to learn in context and pass on that learning to help anyone else’s journey so they don’t have to start at square one!
So if you come upon this series of blogs you may find that some of them may or may not relate to your context. Or maybe you have already learned them. And maybe you have many more insights of your own in addition to those I share here. If that be the case, please share!
So in the next month or two look out for what I hope to be a 15-20 post series sharing brief summaries of some of what I learned as a white leader and minister in a primarily white organization serving an ethnic minority community and demographic.
These are not comprehensive, but a window into how my views of and vision for ministry and leadership have changed. I’ve labeled these as learnings from my first season of ministry in an ethnic minority context – because I anticipate several more seasons that no doubt will continue to challenge and sharpen my perspectives, behaviors, and beliefs.
Before diving in I would acknowledge I would not have learned many of these insights without a rich array of input, reading, and most importantly ethnic minority “guides” – kindred spirits, and wise friends and teammates who opened up the doors into many different cultures and perspectives . This learning is the product of relationships first and foremost! For through learning stories firsthand and serving alongside others day to day in another context, I began to see in new ways.