In May I graduated with my Doctor of Ministry degree in mission administration. In theory, this means I should know something about leading a mission organization. Since that has been my job for the past eight years, it is probably good that I am now “qualified” to do it!
I chose to partake in this phase of my education through Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary, which is near San Francisco, California. There are a variety of reasons why I chose that particular school, but one of them was that it is the most ethnically diverse seminary that serves the particular denomination I am a part of. As a matter of fact, Anglos actually make up less than 50% of the student body. This was important to me because America is increasingly becoming more ethnically diverse and churches and ministries that fail to adjust to this growing reality will be in trouble in the coming years.
Just how much Golden Gate Seminary has embraced ethnic diversity was apparent in the graduation ceremony itself. It just so happened that my graduation coincided with the 50th anniversary of the seminary’s existence on its current campus. Therefore they had invited all the graduates from 50 years ago to attend the ceremony. These alumni wore golden robes and sat immediately behind the current graduates and we referred to them as the “golden graduates.” As we filled into the auditorium, it was impossible to miss the fact that every single one of the “golden graduates” were white, and the vast majority were male. But the new graduates sitting in front of them were a wide variety of races and were much more balanced in gender as well. Clearly Golden Gate has tapped into a growing segment of the population. Because of this they will have a bright and healthy future.
As I try to relate this same concept to the local church level, I wonder how much effort our churches are really making to reach out to other ethnic groups. Unless we want to make Jesus out to be the “white man’s god” then we need to make an intentional effort to reach out to those who are from other cultures and races. Imagine a church that reflects the community it is in, with all its racial groups represented. That sounds like a preview to heaven to me! If we hope to reach the younger generation, our churches are going to have to start thinking more and more about these types of things.