Multi-Ethnic Church: Why Me?

What gives you the right to write on multi-ethnicity?

Who am I ? – My name is Mario Manuel Catalino Melendez. Nope, I’m not Hispanic! I am Filipino, Cajun French, Spaniard, English, plus i grew up around the Deaf community thanks to my mother and I married a Scotch Irish girl! What this means is that I don’t know if I want crawfish, shrimp fried rice or good pot roast on any given day. If it were my choice I’d have all three in one sitting. My cultural background yielded family reunions that had a plethora of cultural foods; we’ll revisit this as we consider worship in later posts. 

My education has been a conglomeration of “multis.” I was raised in an Independent Fundamental Baptist church in Baton Rouge Louisiana. I attended our little private Christian school until my 10th grade year when I switched to a Pentecostal high school and Southern Baptist church who’s teaching pastor was an old Jewish guy. The Lord called me to service of full time ministry when I was in the 3rdgrade, a calling that was clear, unique and unavoidable. I completed my Bachelor’s degree at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. I moved to Memphis to do a Masters in Christian Studies with Union University. Since then I have begun my PhD in Biblical Theology through The South African Theological Seminary. I am by no means trying to boast, but show that I have moved through diverse institutions in my educational career. 

My first church as mentioned before was IFB. This church lacked a solid understanding of the Gospel, and instead boasted in manmade doctrines. My Second church was Istrouma Baptist in Baton Rouge where my pastor was the amazing Rabbi Stuart Rothberg. I love that man, because he took me under his wing and taught me what it meant that Christ was our Rabbi. If it weren’t for Stuart and a couple other associate pastors I wouldn’t have entered Seminary, or fallen in love with Old Testament / Biblical theology. Since high school I have worked with 2 churches in Baton Rouge, 2 churches in New Orleans, 1 church in Birmingham, and 7 churches in Memphis (I was an ethnic ministry Intern for the Mid South Baptist Association). I am currently an Old Testament Teaching fellow (adjunct) with Union University and Victory University. 

If my personal diversity and numerous church involvements have taught me anything, I have learned that the church is the most segregated section of the American culture still in existence. My heart has been ripped out of my chest by prejudice church members, and my heart has been nurtured with love by Gospel oriented church members. The reality is that we have a long way to go in learning to live out the Gospel. Like it or not, neighborhoods change, cities change, people intermarry, and Christ called us to minister and live among other peoples. The following posts will be on multi-ethnic ministry. 

I am by no means stating that every church “MUST BECOME MULTI-ETHNIC.” That would be idiotic because not every church sits in a diverse area in which they are called to minister. If your church is surrounded by only one ethnicity, then by all means reach them mono-ethnically!!!  But know this, if you are in a diverse area of town and are not “becoming all things to all men to reach some” you are living in direct disobedience to the Gospel of the Christ. This applies to all churches regardless of ethnicity. (White, Black, and Brown churches)

Please hang on and continue reading as I blog my thoughts on this subject of Multi-ethnicity.

Up coming articles : (this is a rough sketch, articles may change name and order)

 - current status of churches/ definitions/ semantics that matter
 - mandate or desire? 
 - 4 stages of diversity
 - The Pastoral Staff
 - Cultural differences - Church
 - Cultural differences - Discipleship
 - Cultural differences - education
 - Cultural differences - music / worship
 - Cultural differences - Politics
 - Cultural differences - community care
 - Cultural differences - money
 - So who's right? 
The "Alter Call" for churches.  

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