7 Action Steps to Bond American and Immigrant Churches
Because most pastors who form a relationship between an American and an immigrant church are doing it for the first time, they have no history of successes or failures from which to learn. Dialogue with many ministry leaders has taught us 7 action steps to bond American and immigrant churches.
- Build a spiritual foundation first. The most important part of your relationship isn’t shared spaces or ministries, but a common passion for Christ. Start with a season of prayer together, attend each other’s services and ask whether you share a spiritual fire.
- Each church should appoint a Connector (lead point person) who meets at least monthly with the other church’s Connector. This is the most certain way to be sure that important issues aren’t overlooked.
- Prepare a written agreement. It’s helpful to think in advance about kitchen aromas, carpet spills, keys, calendars, liability insurance and more. You don’t need a legal contract, simply a written agreement between brothers and sisters. Our Guidebook Church Connections that Stick has a template for a Covenant that addresses the most commonly seen issues.
- Share as many joint ministries as possible. Many smaller immigrant churches will welcome help with children’s and youth ministries. Both churches will enhance their reputations in the community by engaging in outreach and community service together.
- Bridge different cultural styles. Some prefer to communicate by email, others by text. Some prefer advance scheduling and prompt starting times, while others view time more dynamically. There is no right or wrong, but problems arise when Connectors fail to address these differences.
- Navigate the power gap. The American church clearly has more wealth, education and power. Immigrant brothers and sisters may hesitate to address offensive words and deeds, not wanting to “rock the boat” of their generous American friends. Connectors need to learn to bridge this power differential.
- Obtain cross-cultural coaching. Many American Connectors deeply love Jesus and their immigrant friends but don’t have a lot of cross-cultural skills. An experienced missionary can coach the cross-cultural aspect of the relationship between two Connectors.
This is a mere listing of the 7 actions steps. In future blogs I will discuss each step in detail, sharing stories from church connections. Since we are starting from the beginning, please share this subscription link with pastors you know who might benefit from them. Don’t forget to remind them that each blog is viewable in multiple languages on our website.