Welcome to the Decade of Multi Churches
By Paul Nixon
In the 2020s, we are witnessing unprecedented interest among church planters and among Americans in general about taking church toward a more multicultural experience. The United States is hurtling through this decade toward a soon-to-arrive moment when white non-Hispanic persons will become a minority in terms of total population numbers. Yet, most American churches, and most United Methodist churches, remain monocultural. And even in cases where less than 80 percent of the church represents one cultural group, there may still be cultural dominance by one group.
Before the pandemic, back in 2018, I wrote a book that I titled Multi: The Chemistry of Church Diversity. A lot of realities shifted during the disruption of the last couple of years. However, the rise of the multi church has changed little – with the possible exception that we have recently slowed down in property acquisitions for multi-campus churches. Most other types of diversity still are rising within vital congregations.
Church leaders may desire to diversify their faith communities, but they may not be able to see a clear pathway toward this reality. It is easy to be overwhelmed by voices that uphold the status quo and by those who may see a multi church as impossible (perhaps based on their experiences and opinions formed decades ago). Others may see a way forward in theory, but they do not yet understand how certain habits and attitudes remain entrenched in their church’s life, enabling continued dominance of decisions by the group who has been around the longest. Patterns of white culture norms and overbearing white leaders can be especially challenging to overcome. Generational culture norms can be just as tricky.
Thankfully, a new generation of churches within Methodism and beyond can teach us all a lot about how to develop multi churches. One of those churches is NETT Church in the North Georgia Conference. NETT stands for Nations Experiencing Transformation Together. Rodrigo Cruz serves as founding pastor (six years ago). He also serves on the North Georgia cabinet. NETT Church is expanding to five physical locations in the Atlanta area this fall. There is no ethnic majority within the church.
On the weekend of February 24-27, 2023, NETT Church will partner with the Path 1 team at Discipleship Ministries to offer a Ministry Summit where teams can come from any church (United Methodist or otherwise) to learn the nuts and bolts of a multicultural ministry. This event is designed for teams of three to five people from churches that register. In addition to the February summit, participants will be invited to share in a learning cohort for the remainder of 2023. A prominent coach-facilitator will lead the cohorts, as each participating church discerns the best next steps for its ministry, arising from the learning. We expect that no two churches will emerge with the same vision or the same plan. But we anticipate that the ministry principles learned will animate each church’s plan The cost of the year is $1,995 per church (for up to five people at the summit), plus the cost of travel to the Atlanta area. This experience is a part of the “Churches Planting Churches” series, but this is the first time we have focused on the multicultural church. There is no assumption that any participating congregation will choose to go multisite, but there is an assumption that each church longs to multiply its ministry to include more of God’s children and to do so in a way that increases the diversity of people in its fellowship.
- If you believe that this might be a good opportunity for your church or if you know a church you would like to recommend, please reach out to me (Paul Nixon [email protected]). I am happy to set up a conversation with any who are interested in learning more. If a church wishes to register for this experience, the registration is not automated, but must be accompanied by a conversation with Paul Nixon.
- Pick up a copy of the book Multi: The Chemistry of Church Diversity (from any online bookseller) so that your church’s leadership team can further its discernment about what would be entailed in choosing to become a multi church.