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Do you long to see the Holy Spirit poured out upon all ethnicities and generations in your community? 

What if Christianity enjoyed fresh relevance to the next generations because believers of different cultures and generations interacted, worshipped, and served together in your city, as they do in heaven? 

God has brought millions of devout Christians from around the world to North America. Thousands of them are pastors. Here in the Minneapolis area alone, they have planted over 700 churches. Their growth rates eclipse those of American churches. 

Many American churches share space with them, but the partnership goes no further. I call them “religious roommates”. They share the same Christ, the same Bible, the same gospel, and will go to the same heaven.  

But cultural differences keep them from building strong relationships. 

What can we do about it? To answer that question, I’ve worshipped in over 80 immigrant churches. I’ve interviewed both immigrant pastors and the American pastors who host them. Because most are forming such partnerships for the first time, they have no experience base to draw from. They keep repeating the same novice mistakes over and over. 

Coaching pastors nationwide regarding these issues led me to write The Cross-Cultural Partnership Survival Guide. This short book shares the fictional story of Susan Jamison, a monocultural American responsible for building relationships with immigrant churches. She makes lots of initial mistakes, but by the end of the book finally figures it out. 

In the book, I lay out a three-step process for building healthy cross-cultural church partnerships: 

  1. Cast a Compelling Biblical Vision. Share the Bible’s teaching on treating the foreign-born with the same compassion as the native-born (Lev. 19:33–34), valuing every member of the Body (1 Cor. 12:21), and welcoming everyone (Romans 15:7). Include stories of healthy cross-cultural partnerships from your community or denomination.  
  1. Build a Small but Healthy Team. The two lead pastors must share a common spiritual passion. A Reformed church hosting a Prosperity Theology church won’t have much spiritual affinity. The best way to be certain you have a shared spiritual affinity is to attend each other’s worship services. This is where you get to see “the real deal”.  

To keep your partnership healthy for the long term, each church must appoint a trusted insider as their lead “Connector.” These point persons must meet at least once per month, building relational trust as well as discussing ministry specifics. 

  1. Hold a Small-Scale Launch Event That Can Scale Up Over Time. It’s best to not start with something complex, expensive, and long-term. Gain small wins that will build momentum for both churches. 

You don’t need a sociology degree to love people of other cultures. Cross-cultural relationships are a part of everyday life we all need to learn informally, just like nutrition and money management. Our Resources page lists many tools you will find useful, including: 

  • Bibles and disciple-making videos in hundreds of languages 
  • Directories of immigrant-focused ministries in all 50 states and all 13 provinces and territories of Canada 
  • Best websites for beginners 
  • Online courses, blogs, and more 

May God bless all your efforts to serve alongside believers of other cultures! 

John has worshiped in over eighty diverse immigrant churches across the Minneapolis area, meeting their pastors and listening to their stories. At the same time, he has dialogued with ministry leaders nationwide about the blessings and challenges of partnerships between churches of different cultures. In 2019, John founded Immigrant Ministry Connections as a platform dedicated to multiplying healthy cross-cultural church partnerships across North America.

John has pastored in a large multicultural church in Beijing, China, and has trained pastors across Asia. He is a graduate of Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary, an ordained minister of The Evangelical Free Church of America and has been happily married to Sherry for twenty-six years.

He is the Executive Director of Immigrant Ministry Connections.

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