No two situations are the same. Each neighborhood, language, and church
needs its own action plan. Each plan becomes its own model.
Several churches have followed somewhat similar patterns. The following
criteria have been used to select and describe models that can be used
- There are actual churches that have examined by the author.
- They are successful in that growth and evangelism have taken place.
It might be said that the model "worked."
- These models do not seem to have geographic sectional overtones or
to have successful because of their geographic location.
- Certain adaptations can be made to these models without loss of workability.
All the characteristics may not fit a given situation, but the models
can still be a usable plan.
These examples are not meant to be exhaustive, but illustrative. Other
examples no doubt do exist. God given ingenuity will probably create more
in the future.
I. Churches started at a physical distance from the sponsor.
A. Natural Birth - a church decides to plant an ethnic church
in a neighborhood geographically removed from the planting church.
a. Both key laymen and pastoral leaders saw spiritual needs in
a specific ethnic neighborhood that were not being met.
c. It was impossible to bring the people to the sponsor's neighborhood
on a weekly basis.
b. They were able to transfer this burden to others in the church.
1) It was physically too far to transport them.
d. The ethnic neighborhood has a few evangelical churches but
none of the sponsor's denomination.
2) The socio-economic differences would create a barrier.
3) The language would create a wall between the sponsoring church
and the ethnic church.
e. Two ethnic families in the sponsoring church have retained
their original language but adopted anglo culture.
2. Positive ideas from the model.
a. The people rightly believed the money they gave for this project
was for missions.
b. They shared their facilities with the baby church for special
c. The sponsors were able to loan their building to the ethnic
group, when the ethnics had important services.
d. The sponsoring church was able to support the ethnic church
for a period of time.
e. People from the sponsoring church were able to offer advice
and support to the mission in fund raising.
f. Leaders of the sponsoring church used their expertise in long
range planning to help the ethnic work.
g. The ministers offered fellowship to the mission pastor in the
h. The Church Staff assisted in goals for weaning the mission
work from the sponsoring church both in finance and leadership.
B. Adoption - a sponsoring church finds an existing church in
another neighborhood and adopts it to help in its development.
a. The ethnic church is at both a physical and cultural distance
from the sponsor.
b. The mission church needs guidance and help, as they are seeing
c. Facilities for the ethnic mission are located in target neighborhood,
but are badly in need of repair.
d. The Sponsor Church with the trained talent and resources began
to feel a burden.
e. Many from the adopted church are new in the United States and do
not understand the American business structure. Some business matters
like building payments, pastoral support, etc., are confusing to them.
2. Positive ideas from this model
a. The sponsoring pastor did research on the culture of the ethnic
group and learned a few phrases of greeting in their language.
b. He educated his congregation on the culture of the mission.
c. He taught his church that they were giving to missions in
their own city.
d. Using an interpreter the sponsoring church trained ethnic Sunday
school workers, musicians, and social workers.
e. On Thanksgiving, the sponsoring members showed their love by reaching
out to the extremely needy in the mission group.
f. The sponsoring church expressed tangible appreciation to the Mission
pastor at Christmas.
g. Those with financial expertise gave leadership and training on
tithing, budgeting, and a detailed program to help the mission be
h. English-as-a-second language was taught using the Bible as a text.
C. Implantation - a sponsoring church begins an ethnic mission
in its buildings, realizing eventually it will need to be transplanted
to a neighborhood where it can grow.
a. The sponsoring church has adequate space to begin a new work.
b. They have available transportation to bring in the ethnic group.
c. The target ethnic group lived generally in one geographical neighborhood.
There was an existing church of the same denomination, as the target
group in the neighborhood, but several problems existed.
1) The existing church was very small.
2) The pastor had no cross-cultural experience and could not give
the needed help to the target group.
3) The existing church could not financially, emotionally or spiritually
support the target mission.
d. The sponsoring church agreed that when target group became strong
they would be implanted in the existing church.
2. Positive ideas emerging from implantation.
a. The target church began in a positive supportive atmosphere.
b. All three churches involved were informed from the beginning of
c. The target mission received help from other uninvolved churches
as they relocated to the small existing church.
d. The pastor of the existing church in the target neighborhood gained
many insights into cross cultural church planting by being involved
form the beginning.
Introduction to Multi-Congregational Churches
A recent study conducted by the Church of the Nazarene has resulted
in proposed organizational changes to give guidance to several congregations
sharing one facility (multi-congregations). In the report the following
facts concerning multi-congregations in the denomination are revealed:
From its inception the Church of the Nazarene has recognized
the opportunity to minister to these immigrant groups. Dr. Bresee
had both Spanish and Chinese language works in the original First
Church of the Nazarene in Los Angeles, California. Therefore, the
mother church was a multi-congregational church.
Today, the most conservative statistics we have indicate there has
been tremendous growth in multi-congregation churches since 1970.
The number of U.S. and Canadian multi- congregation churches has grown
from one in 1976 to 22 in 1980 and 121 in 1984. This is a 600% increase
from 1981-1984. If this growth continues, it indicates that before
1990 at least 30% of our U.S. and Canadian churches will be multi-congregational.
Of the 450 ethnic works in existence in 1983 (either fully organized
churches or church-type missions) nearly 60% of them meet in the mulit-congregational
The reasons for the development of such churches are: The immediacy
of the need-
People who have recently been uprooted from their cultural setting
are very receptive to the Gospel message. To wait until we can reach
many of these people groups by traditional means may be too late.
When we see the potential for growth among Blacks, Koreans, Hispanics,
Armenians, Filipinos, Chinese, Cambodians, and other ethnic groups,
the possibilities for organizing new areas of ministry develop in
words of the founder of the Church of the Nazarene, Dr. Phineas F.
Bresee, 'We are debtors to give the Gospel to every creature in the
same measure that we have received it'"
Two subdivisions of multi-congregations will be considered with several
models under each:
II. More than one organized Church meeting in the same building.
All congregations work in a continuing fellowship to build unity. All
expenses associated with the use of the building facilities are shared
proportionately by each group. Each group is equally accountable to
the district or state church organization.
A. Natural Birth - a church that plants another church within its facilities
with the intention of keeping it there.
a. The English speaking church is located in a multi-cultural
b. Through a survey this church found the community to have 5
major language groups including English.
c. Most of the people preferred to speak their own language and
have major social contact within their own culture.
d. The youth and children spoke the common language, English,
as they went to school and social events together. The exception
to this group was preschoolers and recent overseas arrivals.
e. The cost of land prohibited the purchase of five different
f. The "Mother Church" had a building which could be
converted for multi-use.
2. Positive ideas
a. The pastor of the English speaking church preached once a
month for a year on Biblical understanding of culture, race relations,
love and cross cultural evangelism. This took place before any
non-English service started.
b. The planting took place systematically, starting with the largest
language group represented in the neighborhood.
c. The financial support was through the mission giving of the
d. Each church was pastored by a person from the target ethnic
e. Eventually all buildings and properties become the responsibility
of all the organized churches according to their abilities.
f. An elected council from each church governed the combined projects
of the churches. These included building and properties needs,
as well as Sunday school activities.
g. The 5 churches hired one youth pastor and one children's minister
to pastor the combined needs since both age groups spoke English.
h. Each local church had their own evangelistic thrust, social
outreach and the
care of their own church family.
i. The council planned combined services and potluck dinners for
cultural awareness once a quarter.
B. Adoption - church reaches out to an existing church in their
neighborhood and "adopts" them into their church family.
They share facilities but exist as two separate organizations.
a. This is an English speaking church with facilities larger
than they presently need.
b. This congregation was aware it was in a multi-racial area.
c. They were approached by an existing ethnic church in the area
who had no place to meet.
d. The doctrinal stand of both churches are similar.
e. Facilities could be shared by adjusting the time schedule.
f. An agreeable financial arrangement made each church able to
exist easier than before.
2. Positive Ideas
a. A new sense of mission was felt by the adopting church as
they shared their facilities.
b. The pastor led his people to the understanding that they were
assisting in evangelizing a segment of the neighborhood that they
previously had not been able to reach.
c. Because of the generosity of the English speaking church the
ethnic group developed deep respect for them as Americans and
for their denomination.
d. Picnics, combined services and informal fellowship brought
each congregation to a new understanding of one another.
e. The English church provided a new base for sponsoring immigrants
from the ethnic homeland. Many families were united.
f. English as a second language was taught.
g. Youth and children's English classes were shared by both congregations
since they went to school together.
C. Transition - the neighborhood has changed. A new church is formed
to take over the facility as the existing culture dies out.
Cities grow, evolve, and decline. Sometimes there will be a rebirth
and resurrection. Transition is a relative term because it can be
slight or a complete change. All of the examples in Chapter IV are
examples of churches in transition. But in this case complete change
has taken place in the community. For the church to continue to exist
it had to have a racial as well as a socio-economic change.
a. The neighborhood began racial changes about 12 years ago.
It has made a 95% change now.
b. The church was white but as blacks moved in whites moved to
c. The church had a small debt, but it was too large for a struggling
d. The maintenance and utilities were enormous.
e. The Congregation could not afford a staff.
f. The Church was plagued by vandalism, and problems of how to
feed the poor, and other social problems.
a. An interim pastor was called who was experienced in a changing
b. Whites and blacks attended Sunday afternoon discussions on
issues involving the change.
c. Later a black pastor replaced the interim pastor. He started
a service in free, gospel style. The traditional service of the
past continued also.
d. The new congregation promoted uplift and self esteem. The blacks
in that neighborhood were told six days a week they were a minority,
but on Sunday they were made to feel important.
e. The solving of social problems were linked to the evangelistic
outreach. The church organized small geographical groups designed
to care for each person individually. These care units promoted
the idea "everybody cares for you".
f. Because of the interim situation moving so smoothly no financial
help was needed from outside sources.
III. More than one culture in one church organization.
This includes several congregations in one church organization, or,
it could be several language classes meeting separately, yet all part
of one organization. Each group or class has its own leader. Where possible,
ethnic leadership is desirable. The local church sponsors these classes
or groups and supports them financially. The groups is accountable to
the pastor and local church board. Church board committees have the
responsibilities of developing programs. These groups may or may not
become fully organized churches. However, they may come into membership
of the sponsoring organized local church.
A. Multi-Worship Service - when more than one worship service is held
in the same facility. The service may be cultural, but is usually language
a. The neighborhood consists of 4 distinct racial, cultural,
and/or language groups.
b. The "mother" church wished to reach the neighborhood
and its complex needs through the present structure and facilities.
c. The building owned was adequate to meet services in several
areas at the same time.
d. Most of the young people and children speak English.
e. Immigration continues to feed the neighborhood with new people
from the 4 main groups.
a. Each congregation had its own pastor; they were staff members
of the whole church.
b. Combined services were held as often as possible to promote
c. Financial responsibilities were established among the ethnic
congregations. Payments were made not as rent but to help with
the church budget.
d. Representatives from each ethnic congregation served on the
local church board of governing body.
e. All congregations Sunday schools met at the same time. Youth
and children of all congregations met together when possible.
Adults had elective classes including Bible study in their own
language and English as a second language. In the ESL class, the
Bible was used as a text, and studying English was combined with
f. Each language group had classes during the week to train their
g. Literature advertising the church was distributed in all four
languages, there by displaying to the community a spirit of unity
in the church.
B. Multi-Language Classes - many new immigrants are moving in who need
to learn in their own language. Bible studies are altered to help meet
a. 10 different language groups of immigrant and refugees have
moved into this neighborhood.
b. No other evangelical group is working with these groups.
c. All groups seem to co-exist in the neighborhood with little
d. There is a strong desire among refugee and immigrant groups
to make money in America. Most realize they must first learn English
to get a good job.
e. The sponsoring church has adequate space to have several classes
2. Positive Ideas
a. English-as-a-second language classes were set up. U.S. government
literature on ethnics was used to understand the various cultures
and language characteristics.
b. The church was altered to new immigrant arrivals by the local
Social services were set up to help with clothing, food, housing,
and adjustment to a new country for these newcomers.
c. People graciously used their gifts to teach even when they
had little training. Especially this was true among senior citizens.
d. A missionary who had had many successful years overseas was
recruited to supervise the program. His support came from churches
in the area.
e. This model is now ready to start worship services in a few
of the language groups that have been receptive to the gospel.
C. Multi-Cultural - a church that designs its church services for a variety
of cultural groups.
a. All cultures speak a common language. This is not always their
b. Most of these cultural groups are upward moving socio-economically
and wish their children to learn and socialize in the language
of the church. In this model that language is English.
c. The services tend to be less formal than average. Musical instruments,
both stringed and brass, are often used.
d. Each cultural group is encouraged to promote social events
and to keep them aware of their heritage.
2. Positive Ideas
a. The pastor stayed current on world news that involved the homelands
of his new parishioners and used this material in his sermons.
b. Classes were taught to help children born in America to learn their
own native language.
c. Public worship services were carefully sprinkled with prayers and
from the languages represented.
d. The governing board was selected to include as many cultural groups
as possible. This was done through careful nomination and not by designation
of each group on the ballot.
e. Various cultural holidays and religious observations were recognized
and celebrated when appropriate.
Dressing in national costumes gave excitement to these special Sundays.
Evangelism was encouraged by bringing family and friends to Church dinners
with emphasis on one particular ethnic food.
These models stand as examples of churches which were willing to build
bridges and reach cross-culturally to others with the gospel. This is
a golden opportunity era for the Church in America. We must have an
increasing number of churches who will develop their own guidelines
and regulations in order to meet the challenge in their own neighborhood.
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