This is arguably the most important post I have ever written. When I was coming up through Christian ministry, the face of American Christian leadership was Bill Hybels, Rick Warren, and John Maxwell. Today it would most likely be Andy Stanley. All are white males. However, the future of the church, much like America, will look quite different.
The future of the American church will be multi-ethnic, multi-racial, and multi-generational. Churches that do not embrace this reality will be left behind as the decade progresses.
This is GREAT news for the church because this is an expression of the Kingdom of God.
For example, it was the ethnically (Jew and gentile—African, Greek, Europena, Asian, etc) church of Antioch that took the gospel to the world, not the Jewish homogenous church in Jerusalem. In Acts the chapter 13 the Holy Spirit set apart
- Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a lifelong friend of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. 2 While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, “Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” 3 Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:1-3 ESV
Barnabas was a Jew from Cyprus. Saul was Jew from Tarus. Lucius was from Cyrene in Northern Africa. Simeon of Niger was African. Manaen is a Hellenistic Jew (Greek)
In God’s wisdom and sovereignty to move His Church globally, he used an ethnically (Jewish, Greek, African) and social-economic diverse team to lead the greatest movement in the history of the world.
The evangelical church in America misses out on so much if we are heavily influenced by churches with only a white suburban context. With that said, the following are 15 multi-ethnic pastors in alphabetical order that caucasion pastors and Christian leaders need to listen to on a regular basis. Their perspectives will expand your scope of ministry and allow you to reach more people for Jesus Christ.
- Dr. David Anderson, founder and President of the BridgeLeader Network (BLN). As the founder and senior pastor of Bridgeway Community Church, Dr. Anderson reaches a dynamic, multicultural congregation of nearly 3,000 weekly attendees, from over 42 different countries, located in Columbia, Maryland. Dr. Anderson is the author of several books on race and diversity, including Letters Across the Divide (Baker, 2001) and Multicultural Ministry (Zondervan, 2004) and the award-winning Gracism: The Art of Inclusion (IVP, 2007). His newest book, I Forgrace You: Doing Good to Those Who Have Hurt You (IVP, 2011) is now available.
- Herbert Cooper – In April of 2001, God spoke to Herbert and his wife Tiffany to plant a multi-cultural church in a major city in America. In May of 2001, the Lord directed them to the north side of Oklahoma City. In January 2002, the Coopers sold their home in Springfield, Missouri, and moved to Oklahoma City to begin People’s Church. People’s Church began on May 12, 2002 with 65 people in attendance and is now ministering to 5,000 people every week.
- Pastor Rev. Wilfredo De Jesús, the pastor of the fast-growing New Life Covenant congregation in Chicago. He is also known as “Pastor Choco.” Fresh from being featured on the cover of TIME magazine in April, Chicago pastor Wilfredo De Jesús, known as “Pastor Choco,” has been selected for the 2013 TIME 100. This list recognizes the activism, innovation and achievement of the world’s most influential individuals. De Jesús was featured on the cover and in the accompanying story of TIME’s April 15 edition, “The Latino Reformation,” which explored the growth of Latinos among Protestant churches across the U.S.
- Naeem Fazal – Naeem was born and raised as a Muslim in Kuwait. He came to the United States shortly after the Gulf war of 1990. In 1992, he had a supernatural experience with Christ that changed the course of his life. He was ordained in 2001 at Seacoast Church. In 2006, with the help of Seacoast Church, the ARC and MosaicLA, he planted Mosaic Church in Charlotte,NC. Naeem has been featured in Relevant Magazine, Outreach Magazine, Leadership Journal and Charlotte Magazine.
- Derwin Gray – Derwin is the Founding and Lead Pastor of Transformation Church, a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, mission-shaped community that focuses on loving God completely (Upward), ourselves correctly (Inward), and our neighbors compassionately (Outward) in Indian Land, South Carolina, just south of Charlotte, North Carolina. Transformation Church was named the 2nd fastest growing church by percentage and the 14th fastest growing church by number of participants in America in 2010, according to Outreach magazine.
- Tony Kim has served in the creative arts, communication, and executive roles within churches for over 15 years spanning from Texas, Tennessee, and California. As a part of the Fellowship Memphis Church planting team, he developed his passion for diversity and the potential of multicultural communities. He then joined Newsong, a multi-ethnic church in Irvine, CA, as the Creative Arts Pastor and eventually became the Executive Pastor.
- Tommy “Urban D.” Kyllonen is the lead pastor at Crossover Church in Tampa, Florida. His church hosts the annual Flavor Fest Urban Leadership Conference and publishes S.O.U.LMAG. Outreach Magazine listed Crossover as one of the most innovative churches in America due to their use of the arts and outreach to engage multi-ethnic urban culture. Tommy aka “Urban D.” is also a Hip-Hop artist that has recorded 7 full length albums and performed extensively. Tommy leads the Urban Coaching Network for urban church planters and has authored two books “Un.orthodox” and “Next” and is preparing to release his upcoming book and album “Rebuild” in 2014.
- Dhati Lewis – Along with 25 other individuals who moved from Texas to Georgia, Dhati launched Blueprint Church in 2009. His passion is for church planting and discipleship. He launched The Rebuild Initiative in 2011 to answer the call to see more churches planted in the urban context. He is currently a highly sought after speaker and serves as the president of The Rebuild Initiative.
- Bryan Loritts – Bryan is the Lead Pastor of Fellowship Memphis- a multicultural church ministering to the evolving community of urban Memphis. Bryan has also served as an adjunct professor at Crichton College, and is on the board of trustees for Biola University, Presbyterian Day School, and Memphis Leadership Foundation. In addition to serving the community of Memphis, Bryan’s ministry takes him across the country as he speaks to thousands annually at churches, conferences and retreats. He is also the author of the books God on Paper and A Cross Shaped Gospel as well as a contributing author for the book entitled Great Preaching. Bryan was recently voted as one of the top thirty emerging Christian leaders in the country by Outreach magazine.
- Crawford Loritts – Since 2005, Dr. Loritts has been the Senior Pastor of Fellowship Bible Church in Roswell, Ga. His speaking engagements have included evangelistic outreaches, conferences, conventions, churches, colleges and seminaries. He is a frequent speaker for professional sports teams, including three Super Bowls and the NCAA Final Four Chapel. He has spoken to gatherings of senior military officers at the Pentagon. He is a featured speaker at Promise Keepers men’s conferences. He and his wife, Karen, are featured speakers at Family Life’s marriage and parenting conferences. He is a visiting professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Crawford is also the host of “Living A Legacy”, a daily radio program heard on 330 outlets by approximately 500,000 per week. livingalegacy.org
- Eric Mason – Dr. Mason is the Lead Pastor of Epiphany Fellowship in Philadelphia. He is known for articulating and proclaiming the gospel with clarity, passion, and authority at churches and conferences nationally. Dr. Mason received his Master of Theology from Dallas Theological Seminary as well as a Doctorate degree from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
- Miles McPherson – Miles, author of Do Something! Make Your Life Count, is a man radically transformed by God. Miles is the Senior Pastor of the Rock Church in San Diego, one of the fastest growing churches in the United States with an average weekly attendance of over 12,000. Known for his frank and funny delivery, Miles loves to call people to think about how God has prepared them to do something significant with their lives. He’s a prolific speaker, one who can talk to anyone — from prison inmates to senior citizens. He challenges everyone to go out and do something for God!
- Kyle Ray is the Lead Pastor at Kentwood Community Church – a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, and economically diverse congregation just outside of Grand Rapids, MI. KCC was originally planted by Dr. Wayne Schmidt who, together with Kyle, would many years later transition the otherwise healthy homogeneous church into a multi-ethnic community of faith. Today some 3,000 men and women of diverse background worship, serve, and experiencing life together.
- Efrem Smith is an internationally recognized leader who uses motivational speaking and preaching to equip people for a life of transformation. He also consults on issues of multi-ethnicity, leadership, and community development for churches, educational institutions, and other organizations. He served as Founding Pastor of The Sanctuary Covenant Church and President of The Sanctuary Community Development Corporation in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Currently, Efrem is the Superintendent of the Pacific Southwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church. In this role he provides leadership to around 160 churches and other ministry initiatives in California, Arizona, Hawaii, Nevada, and Utah. He is the author of the books, Raising-up Young Heroes and The Hip Hop Church.
- Afshin Ziafat -Afshin is the Lead Pastor of Providence Church in Frisco, TX . Born in Houston, Afshin moved with his family to their native country of Iran when he was two years old. In the midst of the Iranian Islamic Revolution, Afshin’s family moved back to Houston at age six. In the second grade, he was given a Bible by a tutor who was teaching him the English language. He read that Bible 10 years later as a senior in high school and came to faith in Christ.
Ultimately, his family would disown him because of his faith in Christ, and He began to understand the call of Christ on each of our lives—to follow Him regardless of the cost. In so doing, Afshin found that the reward was greater than the cost, demonstrating the truth of Matthew 16:25 – “that whoever loses his life for the sake of Christ will find it.”For the last 10 years, he has traveled around the world proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in churches, conferences, and missions. Afshin serves on the Board of Directors for Vertical Bible Study at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. He also partners with Elam Ministries and travels into the Middle East regularly to train Iranian pastors.
I also recommend that every Christian leader attend the “The Multi-ethnic Church Conference”. More information can be found at http://www.mosaix2013.com/.
Any list of Christian leaders is woefully incomplete so I invite you to submit additional names of pastors leading multi-cultural, multi-generational congregations.
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