(EDITOR’S NOTE – Ken Tan is the team leader of the multicultural team for Congregational Services with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina. Tan shares his passion for his work and how God is moving among ethnic congregations across the state. He shares suggestions for how churches can become more involved.)
Q: What are some ways your team is helping to disciple ethnic groups in the state?
A: My role right now is to help our convention to have a more intentional approach of doing ministry that is inclusive … making disciples of all people. That word “all” has been a focus for me … the fact that the gospel is inclusive. When it comes to that approach, it means I deal with all the different churches, all 4,300 churches if you want to put it that way, … [specifically] in the area of dealing with the ethnic churches. For one thing, if I don’t – if we don’t – address them it’s easy for us to overlook them. … There is a [need] toward addressing the resources … for the ethnic churches. We work with Asians, African Americans, Hispanics … Middle Eastern people, Arabic churches … any other church that may not be considered Anglo.
We try to cater to them in terms of making sure we have resources that may be found in their language. Because most of everything we do is in English, we had to make sure we had the materials for them. But also we tried to find people who can be a good resource for them, too. Part of our goal here is to be able to train leaders … not only think of ways to reach them, but once you reach them, how are you going to disciple them.
Q: What are some ways you’ve seen God moving among ethnic congregations throughout the state?
Ken Tan is the team leader of the multicultural team for Congregational Services with the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina.
A: The church I’m working … with right now is called Glory of God Christian Fellowship [in Raleigh]. [We] even pioneered … an online discipleship class. We decided since people are so busy, why don’t we do something online every Wednesday night from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
[One man in our group] decided that he’s going to use the same materials that I’m teaching. … He started Skyping his relatives back in the Philippines, using the materials. He was teaching it. He was able to lead [his] family… using materials through Skype. … When you teach a series of lessons with the family, it is with the expectation that they themselves would reproduce. … Bible study is also something to be reproduced. We help to make sure that when we’re teaching these classes it’s reproducible. That it doesn’t just become a class.
That has become part of our challenge because many times people look at disciple making as a class. It’s more than that. It’s people … they apply it in their lives … they reproduce it.
Q: What do churches need to do to make a difference among ethnic groups in their community?
A: It’s not about comfort. … The Lord never called us to be comfortable. If you look at scripture, crossing cultures is difficult. When you share the gospel with other cultures it’s going to mean that you need to have a missionary mindset. You’ll have to learn the language. You need to be able to learn the customs. I even tell people you need to learn to accept some of their food that they have. Our people, they get so picky. They say, “I’m not going to touch that.” I [asked], “Have you ever thought what it means to be a missionary?” By doing that you start to relate to them. You start to understand who they are. … You start to know their needs and the challenges. …
For you to be able to step into that world where they are, it almost comes to the point that you kind of earned a right to become part of their family. … And then you bring them into your family. All of that takes a while. It takes an intentionality – a willingness to say, “I’m really wanting to engage your culture.” … God has brought them here. … You don’t even need a passport. They’re here. And we go all over the world trying to reach them. But when they’re here, it just seems like we [don’t want] to connect with them. There seems to be a disconnect. How are you willing to be a part of the answer … for the lost people in your community?
Contact Ken Tan at (800) 395-5102, ext. 5641, or [email protected].