A follow up to the blog posted on 25th August 2016 entitled ‘Two Pastors met for coffee’
Mike: It was good that Andrea, the Pastor of the Church of the High Priest Jesus Christ, was able to come to our Evangelical Pastors’ Prayer Group last week.
Dave: Yes, I found the way she prayed very moving.
Mike: And Dave and Pete seemed happy to fellowship with her too. I didn’t know that Dave was so fluent in French. They really seemed to establish an entente cordiale. Also I hadn’t realised how much Christians have suffered in the CAR.
Dave: Put in that context it was easy to understand why the knowledge that Jesus as High Priest is ever interceding for us has come to mean so much to the church. Andrea’s explanation of that sent me back to Hebrews again and I realised that I haven’t really appreciated Christ’s heavenly work for us.
Mike: That is one value of having fellowship with people from different cultures. We are sent back to parts of the scriptures that haven’t had the same significance to us. But I still have some questions about ethnic churches.
Dave: But didn’t Andrea explain that they feel so much freer to express their faith in French and Sango? Even though many like Andrea have good English, many of them still find it hard to pray and study scripture in it.
Mike: Yes I can see that, although many of the younger people already look on English as their first language. But what really concerns me is the lack of testimony to the unity that we have in Christ across races and cultures.
Dave: Well we can hardly set ourselves up as an example of cross-cultural fellowship can we?
Mike: What do you mean? We have 30 different races in our church.
Dave: Fair enough, but how many are not classed A or B in social surveys? Half of your members went to the same school or university. They might be ethnically different, but culturally they are homogenous. I doubt you have a single Sun reader in your church. Andrea has quite a social cross section of her community even if they are nearly all originally from CAR.
Mike: I suppose that is why McGavran’s Homogenous Unit Principle gained such popularity in mission circles. We all prefer to be with people like ourselves. Look at your services every Sunday. You have one at 8 am for those who like to worship in seventeenth century language, another at 9. 30 for the ones who want to have liturgy, sing hymns and have a choir and then at 11 you have the Family Service. If we can’t even get the whole British Christian community worshipping together what hope do we have for a truly multi-cultural congregation?
Dave: Yes you have a point there. I think we are losing out by the lack of mutual respect and cross-fertilization between the different generations in our churches. Half my congregation don’t know any Wesley hymns and the other half have never heard of Stuart Townend. I haven’t been able to crack that one, but I want to continue to work on it. Just as I think we need to work on bringing ethnic churches into fellowship with us and to try to be less class ridden. Some Mission Agencies have done a lot of harm by only dealing with people in their ethnic groups so that tribal and cultural divisions have been perpetuated and sometimes even deepened when denominational identity markers have been added to tribal ones.
Mike: I agree. Now that we have fellowship with Andrea let us work on having some activities together. It would be fun to have a French-English service sometimes. Perhaps we could try to combine our generation and class divided groups into one service at the same time. And certainly we should talk to her about joint youth work both to benefit her anglicised young people and to bring a new cutting edge to the witness of some of ours. Let’s try to show that in Christ we can be united as he prayed.