The “Nations” in Your Backyard
By Dr. Steve R. Parr
“Go and make disciples of all nations.” Undoubtedly you are aware of this imperative statement from the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19. Take a moment to look at your congregation this week. In addition, compare your congregation to your community. Do you realize that the “nations” are now in our neighborhoods?
I would encourage you to contact Research Services of the Georgia Baptist Convention (or your state denomination) and request a demographic profile of your community. The service is free and provides what may be eye-opening information about those who live in proximity to your church. As you identify other culture and ethnic groups in your community you must ask how you will reach out to the “nations” in your backyard.
The state of Georgia was made up of 70% Anglos according to the 1990 Census (using round numbers). The percentage was 60% in 2000 and 50% in 2010. With 35 million immigrants coming into the United States in the last forty years plus an unknown additional number of undocumented immigrants, the landscape is changing across our country. While opinions about proper and improper approaches to these issues abound in political discussion, Christians cannot ignore the responsibility to share Jesus with any and every person possible. The Great Commission commands us to share Jesus with all “nations” or all “peoples.”
How should your church respond?
- Adopt a local ethnic congregation located near your church to pray for, encourage, and minister to.
- Adopt a non-Christian house of worship in or near your community to pray for.
- Engage in planting (or partner with other churches in doing so) a congregation in or near your community to serve and reach an ethic population that may not be as responsive to your ministry.
- Host a joint worship service or exchange pulpits with an ethnic pastor to bring awareness of the population and it’s needs.
- Start an ESL (English as a second language) ministry or provide ESL training at your church.
- Provide Evangelism and Inter-faith Witness training for your members.
- Request community demographics from your state convention.
- Provide a “Welcome to our Community” experience for immigrants providing information about routines your members take for granted such as bank accounts, obtaining drivers licenses, local merchants, local repairmen, local customs, etc.