Invited – Diversity At Crown Church
New Ground December 11, 2018
When you hear the words, “race” or “racial diversity,” I [Kiri Kankhwende] wonder what comes into your mind? Maybe your eyes roll and you think, ‘here we go again.’ Or perhaps those words provoke feelings of pain or discomfort, as they remind you of horrible experiences. For some, those words make you happy as your experiences have meant you see diversity as something to be celebrated. Maybe it makes you feel awkward, because you think you might not be qualified to have a view on race and diversity, or that we’ve moved on, or that others may criticise you. Perhaps it’s a bit of all the above.
Well, whatever category you fall into, when you live in a city like London you can’t really avoid issues around race and diversity. It has shaped our past and is a present issue, just look at the news and you’ll see. London is one of the most diverse cities on earth and in the last census our cosmopolitan borough of Hillingdon was the only place to have all the 107 languages spoken in it. So, diversity is all around us.
What does any of this mean for us as followers of Jesus and what should our response be to this as a church? Well, with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Reverend Dr.Martin Luther King, the 70th anniversary of the arrival of the HMT Empire Windrush from the Caribbean, the 100th anniversary of the Armistice and an undercurrent of concerns (both nationally and globally) around the issues of borders, immigration, asylum, race, ethnicity and multiculturalism, we decided to do a series called Invited.
Invited is a series produced by Kings Church London to respond to some of the questions and pain around diversity in our culture. The Invited Series explores the issue of racial diversity and how it affects our lives, our faith and our church. Our starting point was the gospel and the biblical view of diversity. At Crown, we unpacked parts of the bible (in particular the book of Acts), and saw how both Jesus and the early church included a variety of people. We also encouraged members of Crown to share their own diversity stories with each other. We captured some of these stories in a series of short films that were shown at each Sunday service during the seven-week series. We also engaged in some challenging and fun discussions in our small groups and in a three-part podcast series called Talking Invited.
Why did we do this? It’s simple: We believe that God’s heart for diversity is far bigger than ours. Revelation 7:9 provides an incredibly powerful picture of what eternity will look like and what we have to look forward to. We wanted Crown Church to demonstrate this as best we can, now: every nation, tribe, people and languages before the throne of God, cleansed by the blood of Jesus, celebrating and worshipping the Lord! Our hope was that, just as it was in the book of Acts where Jews and Gentiles ate together—showing a real acceptance of one another—so our church would stand in distinct contrast to the dominant world view on race and diversity. In doing so we would intentionally cross our visible and invisible divides to go beyond kind words and nice gestures and to invite people into our lives. This was a gospel centred call to listen, learn, embrace one another and see people in a whole new way.
We helped our church to get the most out of this series by recommending resources on diversity. We also encouraged people to welcome others who are different to them by inviting them into their homes for a meal. We used the Invited series book produced by Kings Church London which has 40 daily devotionals and stories of people in Crown. It was a great opportunity for everyone to get into the bible regularly.
A couple of months on, we’ve learned so much about each other, drawing closer as we each respond to the invitation to God’s table.
Source: New Ground