I’m always struck by the picture of heaven that John describes in Revelation when he writes, “After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: Salvation belongs to our God, who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10 CSB) This scene depicts the culmination of the gospel reaching people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. I experienced such diverse worship in a multi-ethnic church I attended in Berlin, Germany which had members from around the world. I’ve stood amidst brothers and sisters in Christ during Amsterdam 2000 and sang praise to the Lord with them as they sang in their own languages. It is a beautiful picture that God wants to see on earth as we share the gospel with people from every tribe tongue and nation.
It’s the picture Paul paints in Ephesians:
But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In his flesh, he made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that he might create in himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. He did this so that he might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross by which he put the hostility to death. He came and proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one spirit to the Father. So, then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole building, being put together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you are also being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:13-22 CSB)
Jews and Gentiles came together as brothers and sisters united in Christ to form the church. Although they came from different races and cultures, they found their identity and unity in the gospel and in Christ, thus forming a church in Ephesus which was multi-ethnic and multi-cultural.
Multi-ethnic churches remind me of the many mosaics I see when I lead trips to the Holy Land year. These mosaics are composed of pieces of tiled laid together to form a beautiful picture. Each piece of tile is distinct, unique, and beautiful itself; however, when they are put together, these pieces of tile form a breathtaking awe-inspiring picture. Similarly, each member of a multi-ethnic church has inherent value and beauty because God has made them in His image and has shown his creativity through making them of different colors and cultural backgrounds. Multi-ethnic churches are not color blind. They celebrate God’s glorious diversity, bringing these beautiful colors together to form a spectacular masterpiece, the local body of Christ.
God has given my family a vision for planting such a multi-ethnic congregation in my hometown of Anderson, South Carolina. This process will not be a quick one. I am pursuing planting a church as a bi-vocational church planter, while continuing my teaching ministry at Anderson University. It will take at least two years before we plan to launch the church, so we are starting the first month of a two-year process.
At this stage of the plant, we are inviting our friends, family members, and partners in ministry to pray for God’s wisdom as we begin the initial steps of this journey. We need local partners who are interested in being a part of such a multi-ethnic church plant to join us in prayer for the venture. Pray for wisdom as we seek the people God will call to form the multi-ethnic staff who could join us in planting the church. Pray for God to direct us to a particular location in Anderson in which to plant. Pray for opportunities to have gospel conversations with people who don’t know Christ in the Anderson area. Pray for the conversations we will have with local church leaders, associational leaders, state leaders, and national leaders. Even in these very early stages, we are excited about the beautiful mosaic God can create through this new church we hope to plant in Anderson.
The name of the church will be Mosaic Church of Anderson, a church for people from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Will you support us with your prayers and participation in this venture as God so leads?
Tim is the Associate Professor for Youth Ministry & Missions at Anderson University and is the Executive Director of Youth Ministry Round Table. He is the author of No Better Gospel and the coauthor of the upcoming Raising the Bar 2nd edition.