A few weeks ago, we asked every adult in our Sunday morning worship services to fill out a survey. One of the questions had to do with nationality. We discovered that on that particular Sunday, at least 26 different nations were represented in our two services. I say “at least” because several people simply put “Hispanic.” There were 26 specific nations named on the surveys.
To be honest, I was surprised. I knew our congregation was quite diverse. I was expecting maybe 13-15 different nations to show up in the surveys. I found out that I didn’t know my people as well as I thought I did.
The picture below is of a study sheet our associate minister shares with people who ask questions about becoming a Christian. Look closely and you’ll see that the lady worked through the sheet making notes….in Chinese! She was baptized yesterday.
First, let me say that I realize church work in Florida is a little different. Boy, it is a melting pot here! (This very afternoon I have an appointment with a man who grew up in Syria and has also lived in France and Africa.) I wouldn’t expect a small town midwestern church to put forth this kind of demographic on Sunday. But I wonder how many Christians across America would be surprised to know who’s sitting next to them in church.
I am also struck by how the gospel knocks down barriers and brings people together who aren’t just different, but radically different. As the world explodes in conflict between people who can’t seem to find a way to accept each other, the Gospel of Jesus Christ brings peace and harmony to even the most ill-fitted combinations of people. It is truly a thing to behold.
Finally, I think we must understand the extent to which foreign missions can be impacted right here at home, and not just by putting money in the offering plate. Many of the people who represent those foreign countries in our church each week have friends and family members back home. Make no mistake, the gospel they learn at PCC will be sent back home in emails and Facebook posts and carried with them when they visit and shared with enthusiasm. We have had to come to grips with the fact that we are constantly training and equipping foreign missionaries. How exciting is that?
Maybe you need to do what we needed to do…see your congregation, and the hidden potential within it, with fresh eyes.