We live in a conglomerate of many cities that make up "Hampton Roads". I live about 20 feet from the Virginia Beach line. Our city is called "Chesapeake". The thing about our area is that for the most part it's 1 city with a lot of flavors but the governments here don't want to give up power by consolidating although some things are on the move like a regional transportation authority.
Anyway as you look closer at our area of Chesapeake we meet in a part of town called "Greenbrier". The 5 miles surrounding our location in Greenbrier is about 48% black and 52% white with a population base of approximately 215,000 people.
I don't know of very many churches in our area who are growing rapidly. Even most of the successful ones here have plateaued for a while.
One of my passions has always been to have a multi-racial church. I grew up in Baltimore City and diversity wasn't a buzz word to me... it was reality. In fact for many of my experiences growing up I was in the minority. Schools, sports leagues, etc.
This Sunday we had a LOT of our regulars out. Just since Easter God has brought a LOT of African American families to our church. As I spoke Sunday I kept thinking about how God was answering prayers I prayed for well over a year. I've been asking God to make us diverse. We've changed nothing but all of a sudden we've seen a new wave of people come into the services week after week.
Tomorrow Kristy and I are hosting one of the new families for supper. I'm very humbled.
As I looked out yesterday, I saw a truly diverse congregation where most of the people did not look like me and I loved it!
I've said for years that we will not be like most churches in our area and "target" a group that tells people who don't look like us to go to hell. I believe God has brought us here in this place and while it is a challenge, He's called us to meet that challenge. We are still learning what it looks like to be a church in that context (most churches are homogeneous)... we're praying for strength and wisdom to fulfill our calling to our city. Thanks in advance for your prayers.
posted by Tally Wilgis @ Monday, May 28, 2007