Can We Learn From This? Building a New Church

internationalLast Sunday I attended the church in which my wife and I were actively involved prior to moving permanently to Australia. In many ways things hadn’t changed all that much, but in others it is an entirely different church.

Located in one of Vancouver’s affluent suburbs, it had been a church made up almost exclusively of an Anglo/European membership. Many of those people still attend. However, in the twenty plus years we have been away, the community in which the church is located has seen a dramatic increase in Asian immigration, most of whom are young professionals. At the same time, an equal number of Asians with a less affluent background have moved into the area serving as domestic help both to the Anglo/European and Asian professionals. This latter group of new migrants has been attracted to the church through an ESL program run by volunteers from the church.

It was a real blessing to see how God has worked with these three somewhat divergent groups to form a new church where ethnic/economic barriers are almost transparent.  All three groups are keen to build a church that they are calling an international church. The services are conducted in English. The lead Pastor is a Kiwi. His sermons are simultaneously listened to in both Mandarin and Cantonese. Volunteer translators do this work so those attendees not fluent in English can listen via headphones.

However, the majority listen directly to the pastor’s message. The understanding of the church leadership and those attending is that the church is an English speaking church. The simulcast is for those that are still making the transition to English. As there are a number of Chinese churches in Vancouver, those not willing or able to make the switch to English are encouraged to attend another church.

Perhaps this is a model we could adopt.

One thought on “Can We Learn From This? Building a New Church”

  1. It is an interesting point that is raised concerning the segmentation that has developed amongst some larger churches that run multiple services. It can be different language/ethnic services as has been mentioned, or services built around different demographic groups (Families, Youth, Young Adults, Baby Boomers) that finish up being effectively “exclusive”. Although I don’t read any direct instructions on the subject in the scriptures, one can’t help but think of Paul’s references to church life where he cites “slaves and free, rich and poor, Gentile and Jew”; as more supporting a “One Church” approach than a “Segmented” one.

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