Leading Your Congregation to Embrace Multi-Ethnic Ministry Opportunities, Dr. Ken Fisher
Race too often divides in America. People are not blind to the differences between various ethnic groups. But what they see and understand as differences that could divide need to be understood and appreciated in the light of the gospel’s inclusivity: “There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus” (Ro 3:22-24).
In Christ alone, there is healing between ethnic groups. He prayed for unity. Racial reconciliation within a congregation produces credibility for the church of Jesus Christ in the community—and the opposite is also true. St. John wrote, “We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” but hates his brother, he is a liar. For how can anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, love God, whom he has not seen? This then is the command we have from him: The one who loves God should also love his brother” (1 John 4:19-21). If people of different races are cooperating out of Christian love, the impact is powerful. The question is, “How do we intentionally put this into action in our congregation and community?”
The Great Commission’s command to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Mat 28:19) serves as the theological foundation for multi-ethnic ministry. The historic theology of the Lutheran Church embraces “repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations” (Lk 24:47) and has a history of missionary work. The New Testament lays out the biblical foundation for the multi-ethnic ministry of today as envisioned by Christ (John 17:20-23), described by Luke (Acts 11:19-26; 13:1), and prescribed by Paul (Ephesians 4:4-6). Ethnicity is no longer to divide those who claim to follow Christ because racism and segregation are spiritual problems that must be understood and rejected through the lens of a biblical worldview.
An old maxim states “Birds of a feather flock together” but Jesus calls us beyond our natural inclinations. Let’s make a pact to look up from our comfortable circle and out to a world that is dying.
This presentation will include:
- embracing the theological rationale for multi-ethnic ministry;
- practical ways to identify multi-ethnic outreach opportunities;
- discussion on overcoming perceived obstacles to getting started;
- tactics on congregational mission and vision planning for multi-ethnic outreach; and
- evangelical encouragement to begin immediately.
We will touch on:
- the importance of assuming the role of a learner in a cross-cultural setting;
- the rejection of homogeneity as a church growth strategy;
- the difference between “assimilation” and “accommodation”; and
- the benefits of multi-ethnic ministry for the Lutheran Church.
Dr. Ken Fisher
Dr. Fisher is the president of Wisconsin Lutheran High School (WLHS) in Milwaukee, Wis., where he has served since 2011. He leads the high school’s effort to fulfil its vision to the preferred choice for those seeking a comprehensive Christian high school experience in a caring, cross-cultural setting. He is married to Kimberly who is the east campus principal at Christ-St. Peter (WELS) in Milwaukee. They consider one of their greatest joys being grandparents to Lucyana (age 7) and Ezekiel (age 5) Bravo. Prior to his move into administration at WLHS, Dr. Fisher served 12 years at Risen Savior Lutheran Church in Milwaukee. At Risen Savior, he helped lead the congregation’s effort to reach cross-culturally into its local setting growing from a monocultural ministry into a multi-ethnic congregation. This involved leading the congregation through several mission and vision planning processes that committed the congregation to reflect the diversity of the community in its membership. He oversaw the development of a K4-8th grade school and expanded ministry and facilities in three building phases. Dr. Fisher is a graduate of Northwestern College and Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary. He completed his Doctor of Ministry in Pastoral Leadership from Trinity International University in Deerfield, IL in 2018. His doctoral project studied the benefits of multi-ethnic diversity from a majority culture perspective. He has a passion for preaching, teaching and community service. He also serves on the Synod’s East Asia Administrative Committee of the Board for World Missions and as his homeowner’s association president.