Diversity a reflection of community

By June 11, 2007


United States (MNN) — A growing multi-ethnic church in Queens, New York acquired a permanent facility.

Grace Baptist Church was started out in a YMCA building nine years ago. The church began by reaching out to the African-American community in a camp setting but realized it needed a place to continue discipleship. "So as he moved into the city for that, then he realized there was a multiplicity of cultures," said Norm Nicklas of Association of Baptists for World Evangelism. That's when it became a church plant.

It is now a church that believes the diversity of the community should be reflected in the church. "The ideal, I believe, according to even the Bible is that you should try to reach everyone within the ministry area of your church. For example, I was there Sunday. There were many ladies from India who were wearing their saris. There were
many folks from the projects.  There were other folks from Jamaica," said Nicklas.

In just one service, there were nine people attending for the first time. 

With such a variety of people, messages are basic and almost always done in English.  However, the music often reflects the cultures represented. 

They do lots of community outreach which could be a large contributor to their growth. "They have a strong commitment to evangelism," said Nicklas. Immediately after September 11, they began handing out tracts and care packages. "They developed an image of a church that is reaching out. Probably within three years of 9/11 the church had distributed well over a million tracts," said Nicklas.

They also offer food and clothing banks. They provide orientations on raising children
and teens, which is a troubling issue in the inner-city.    

Nicklas says there is a lot that other churches can learn from Grace Baptist. "A church should not just target one particular group or one style of ministry. In a large city you should say: ‘Where are we located?' and ‘What is the diversity that is represented here?' and then ‘How does God want us to reach our community?'" said Nicklas. Along the way you must be able to maintain the Scripture and make the messages understandable to the community. 

"No matter what part of the world you come from, you need to be involved in worship and praise. No matter what your ethnic background, we still need to approach God in
prayer. And then we need to validate the quality of all people and the equal value of all people. We're all created in the likeness and the image of God," said Nicklas.

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