Talk to a small group of interested people in your congregation, district or conference about increasing your intercultural understanding, partnerships and ministries. What are your reasons? Are the demographics in your community changing? Are you trying to reach more young people? Are you trying to reach more interracial/intercultural families in the congregation? You have an intangible yearning to have your ministry setting look more like God’s family?
Gather demographic information from your community and from your district or conference. Ask your pastor or director of connectional ministry about conference plans for planting intercultural congregations and other ministries, and consider how you might connect with existing programs. Ask other leaders – Christian education, worship, youth, older-adult – what increased cultural diversity and emphasis on diversity would mean to them. Ask about the possible challenges you might face.
After gathering information, develop and present a tangible proposal for the leadership team in your setting (i.e., church council, connectional ministries’ table at the district or annual conference). Discuss possibilities and fine-tune your plans. Consider a partnership with another congregation or ministry team. Set goals for the coming year – and think long term. Include such things as: ongoing training and discussions on intercultural competency; biblical/theological study for leaders and for all age levels; joint mission projects; special worships lead by persons of other racial-ethnic groups during cultural heritage months (i.e., planning a joint worship service between a white congregation and Native American congregation during Native American History Month, and growing that relationship beyond once-a-year events).
Once your church or ministry team gets the green light from leadership, talk with your conference Commission on Religion and Race (or equivalent) about possible funding for pilot projects and training or suggestions of resource persons. Set dates for launching each stage of your plan – then GO!
Publicize, implement, and evaluate each step of your progress. Build on successes and expand your reach. For example, consider creating a cluster of three or four churches of different racial-ethnic groups who work and worship together for two years, with a goal of both building understanding and addressing a community concern (i.e., tutoring or collecting school supplies for under-served school children or improving relationships between law-enforcement and citizens in high-crime communities).