The issue of the integration of different ethnic group in the church is perhaps, uniquely, an American issue.
In Puerto Rico, where I come from, multiculturalism is not an issue. You will have the typical denominational divisions, but, for sure, the language will be Spanish and you will sit by a Puerto Rican Sunday after Sunday.
But how do we deal with the issue of different ethnicities coming together. It is obvious that Sunday morning is the most segregated day of the week. This occurrence is natural, because people are comfortable worshipping God their way, around people like them. At times people create an image of God in their minds based on the culture they are a part of, and so are comfortable around those who share that God-image.
Here in the United States I feel that The Lord is demanding that we all come together under the banner of the culture described in God’s Word. The last powerful revival that came to this nation was noticed as having people of all races come together in true love and fellowship; that was the Azusa Street Revival.
However, I must say some things about unity that I missed before or did not explain well. Not all unity is Godly; the Word of God must be the center. In other words, if their is a multicultural church where blacks, whites, Latinos, Asians, etc. are gathering together, but they are teaching heresy, I want no part of it. I’d rather be in an all African-American, Chinese, white or any other ethnic group church that is speaking truth than to be in a blended church that teaches heresy.
For some time I blamed the ending of the Azusa Street Revival on racism exclusively. But I must admit that I was wrong in that assessment. Azusa stepped into heresy, period. Their central teaching became that in order for you to be saved, you needed to be born-again, sanctified and baptized in the Holy Ghost. They preached against marriage because the coming of the Lord was around the corner. If people left because of these teachings and they happened to be white, it was not because of racism, but because of heresy. I prefer the multi-ethnic group, however, only if the Word is honored.
This takes me to a second point, church-style preference.
My issue is when styles become more important than the anointing of God. Let me start with music. My experience has been that the most talented, for the most part, have not been the most anointed. Now, don’t get me wrong, you must have talent. But I have seen a lot of shows and listened to a lot of self-centered music that focuses more on the musician’s ability to perform than on God.
Does this mean that true talented musicians can’t have God’s anointing? Or that musical excellence is more of a show-off thing than worship? The Bible tells us to “play skillfully before The Lord.” (Psalm 33:3) It is indeed a glorious thing when talent and anointing meet; when this happens, we should throw styles out of the window because God is rocking the house!
If you only join a church because they worship in your style and you throw out the anointing, you are in error. What breaks the yoke is the anointing, not the show! The anointing makes what we do ministry and not a show.
I have been in churches where the style of worship is not necessarily my favorite, but I open myself to sense the anointing and in that, I find the blessing of worship. On the other hand, I have been in services where the worship is exactly what I like, but I sense that something was missing. If what we want is entertainment, we must look at the world; they have the best entertainers.
Lastly, I want to address preaching. Even as I acknowledge that preaching and teaching is a gift, I also recognize that today we have a lot of false prophets, false teachers and motivational speakers. So I try not to look for styles, but for an uncompromising preacher and teacher of God’s Truth.
So you can sweat, yell, jump and ask for amens and witnesses; but if you are not preaching and teaching the Word, I may walk out on you. God is only going to confirm His Word, not your hooping and hollering.
In this regard I must also admit that I miss my fellow ministers in Gates and Hertford County. Even as we had our differences, some of them personal and some even concerning some Biblical differences, I never witnessed heresy there.
Pastor Jonathan Rissmiller, Pastor Eric Earhart, Pastor Phillip Wallace, Pastor Sandy Outlaw, Pastor Rochelle Olson and others honored and respected God’s Word. If I appreciated you before, I do more now. Here in Alaska I have found coldness, not only in the weather, but also in their approach to God. I was forced to leave a congregation that I love, simply because the leadership is comfortable allowing heresy and passionately resisting truth.
It is music to my ears to be in a congregation now where God’s Word is truly honored. Yes, I am the darkest person there, my family and I are ethnically different, the style of music differs from what we are accustomed to and the preaching style is different, but the anointing of God is there; they are praying, worshipping and reaching out to the lost. So styles are secondary; all I want is Jesus!