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18th October 2018

Diversity and Cross-Cultural Mission

At the Newfrontiers Global 18 event last week, we once again gathered leaders from around the world. People travelled from Asia, North and Central America, Africa and Europe, representing hundreds of churches. As I looked around the room at our first meeting, I was reminded of the final verse of Lex Loizides’ brilliant worship song, Be Still and Know that I am God, which some of you may remember:

Be still and know that I am God;
My Son has asked me for
The nations of the world.
His sprinkled blood has made a way
For all the multitudes of India and Africa to come;
The Middle East will find its peace
Through Jesus Christ My Son.
From London down to Cape Town,
From L.A. to Beijing,
My Son shall reign the undisputed King!

The 80 or so people at Global 18 came from many nations, cultures and ethnic backgrounds; although much of the conference was conducted in English, we had Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Hindi and Bulgarian speakers in the room, to name just a few. I am always amazed by those who are fluent in more than one language – I struggle with English! It was another learning experience on how cultures can work together. We may live in very different countries and have diverse life experiences, but we are united in Christ and in our desire to see Kingdom extension around the world.

This week I had the privilege of speaking at a seminar for church leaders with my dear friend Tope Koleoso, Senior Pastor of Jubilee Church in Enfield. We spoke on the subject of diversity and cross-cultural awareness. Increasingly it seems that almost every leadership situation I am in involves a cross-cultural element. I have led a racially diverse church for more than twenty years, but I am constantly aware of how much I still need to learn.

One way we can learn is through reading, and I have recently come across a couple of books which I would love to recommend. The first is Global Humility by Andy McCullough. Andy is a church planter who was born and grew up in Cyprus and has lived in the Middle East as well as the UK. His insights into working cross-culturally are challenging, helpful and provocative. The second book is Prisoners of Geography by Tim Marshall. This is a well-written, very accessible book which gives an overview of modern global politics – very helpful for any of us wanting to broaden our understanding of the world we feel called to reach. Do also have a look at Andrew Wilson’s recent guest blog listing his Top Ten Resources on Diversity.

In more than two decades of leading a diverse church, I have found that one of the best ways we can learn is by building friendships, spending time and sharing meals with people from different cultures. In the last two weeks at King’s I have visited two Nigerian families in their home. Food was provided and I enjoyed their hospitality - in the past  I might have been very ‘British’ and declined, but I am learning! Then on Sunday Deb and I were delighted to accept an invitation from a lovely Indian couple at King’s to have a meal together in a couple of weeks’ time. Another rich learning experience to look forward to.

In Global Humility, Andy McCullough urges us to ‘travel to learn, not just to teach’. We may not feel called to move to another country, as Andy and his family did, but many of us live in increasingly diverse cities and towns – we do not need to travel to meet people from a different cultural or ethnic background to our own! Let’s continue to reach out and build bridges, to listen and learn.

Steve Tibbert

Posted by Steve Tibbert

Steve Tibbert leads King’s Church London, with sites in Catford, Downham, Lee and Beckenham. The church has seen continued growth since the mid-1990s, both in terms of size and diversity.

As well as leading King’s, Steve hosts and leads Newfrontiers, a fellowship of apostolic leaders with hundreds of churches around the world.

Steve is married to Deb. They have three grown up sons and one grandson.

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