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This is part 3 of a four-part blog series on racial and cultural diversity. The material here is excerpted from a book I have coming out next year called Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send. Be sure to read part 1 and part 2.

Many majority culture believers say they want a multi-cultural church, but when you get down to it, they really don’t. They want a group of people of different races coming together to worship in their preferred style. You might say (as my friend Vance Pitman often does), they want a multi-colored church, not a multi-cultural one.

Do you want to know how you can know you are in a multi-cultural church? Sometimes you feel uncomfortable. If you’re not feeling uncomfortable, chances are you are in a church dominated by your own cultural preferences. I once had a white college student tell me that he wished our church were more multi-cultural. I told him to keep praying about it. A few weeks later he told me that he didn’t like how one of our worship leaders jumped around on stage and told everyone to raise their hands, and wanted to know if I could tell him to quit. I suggested to him that maybe he didn’t really want a multi-cultural church after all, just a bunch of different-colored people acting like they grew up in his culture.

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This is part 2 of a four-part blog series on racial and cultural diversity. The material here is excerpted from a book I have coming out next year called Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send. Be sure to read part 1 here.

A church can achieve remarkable unity-in-diversity when each member elevates his or her “third race.” [1] Think of your “first race” as whatever race or ethnicity you happen to be, and the “second race” as whatever races you are not. The third race is the new man that God has made you in Christ.

When you become a Christian, you don’t cease to be your first race, but you become a part of a new race, a third race. In that third race you find a unity with others who share it that supersedes any differences that come from your first races. In Christ, Paul says, there is no “Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female” (Gal 3:28). He did not mean we cease to be Jews or Greeks any more than males cease to be males or that freemen cease to be free. Paul is saying that our identity in Christ becomes weightier than any distinctions of gender, culture, or socioeconomic status.

God is not color blind, and neither should we be. In the vision he gives us of heaven, we see him celebrating the multitudes of diverse and colorful people he has made. Revelation 21:26 says that he brings into heaven the “wealth and the honor” of the nations, which means the rich varieties of culture. God is not a vanilla God. He is a God of 31,000 flavors. All races find their unity in the fact they have one Creator, God; one problem, sin; one solution, the blood of Jesus; one baptism, Christ’s death; one hope, the resurrection of Christ; one fellowship, the Holy Spirit; and one love, the God of glory and salvation. That we will celebrate, and demonstrate, for eternity.

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Over the next four days, I’ll be posting excerpts from a book I have coming out next year—called Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send. This section deals with the increasingly relevant topic of racial and cultural diversity. What the world desires, the gospel alone can accomplish.

 “If I could do it over again, I would pursue a racially diverse church even if it meant Willow Creek became only half the size it is today.” I heard Bill Hybels make that statement at a breakfast I shared with him back in 2006. And it’s quite a statement considering that Hybels has been a pioneer of the modern megachurch movement, practically inventing the “seeker service.” Hybels built Willow Creek, a congregation that has exceeded 25,000 weekend attenders, on the “homogeneity principle,” the idea that you can reach more people if you package your “product” for a particular slice of society—in his case, professional, middle- to upper-class white people in the suburbs of Chicago.

Knowing his heart for evangelism, I pressed him: “So you would be willing to reach fewer people just so your church could be culturally diverse? Greater diversity outweighs total number of conversions?”

Without skipping a beat, Hybels replied, “That’s a false dichotomy, because the corporate witness of racially diverse churches in America would be more powerful, and would likely result in greater total number of conversions, than a numbers surge in any one congregation.”

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