September 14, 2007

Marketing to a Multicultural Audience

This was the title of one of my workshops at MinistryCOM by Tracey Michae'l Lewis.

I decided to take this workshop not because we are a multicultural church or because we are even headed in that direction. I took this workshop because Dayton is one of the most segregated cities I have ever seen, and because there is so much misunderstanding among the different races.

Tracey gave Four C's:

Cultural Awareness: Get to know the cultural...don't assume (and we all know what assume means!).

Commitment: This is not something to be entered into for the short term. This is a long-term commitment.

Creativity: This takes a a "throw the box away" mentality. This is not just thinking outside the box, it is thinking in new ways about the different races and how to communicate.

Christ-Centered: There is a tension between NOT sacrificing the integrity of the WORD and not limiting the reach of the WORD.

The biggest mistake we can make is trying to overlook the race. "I don't see color. I see people" is not a good approach. Why? Because a person's race is a big part of what makes them who they are. Tracey suggested something that sounded strange to me, at first. She was asked, "What if a person asks, 'Am I only being used because I am ____________?" Her response was to say, "Yes. We believe God is calling us to be a multicultural congregation, and we want to be intentional about moving in that direction." That is not the way I expected her to answer the question.

So what is the strategy for reaching multicultural audiences?

1. Build conviction through Scripture.

2. Affirm diversity through identity and vision.

3. Build a multicultural leadership and staff (this does not necessarily start with hiring a worship leader).

4. Enjoy progress and Anticipate problems.

5. Plan.

6. Test the Waters: bring in special speakers, guest worship leaders, etc.

7. Focus Groups

8. Be Authentic- don't try to speak a language you don't know or be cool for cool sake.

What do you think? What attempts has your church made in order to reach a multicultural audience? Do you think separate congregations or integration is the way to go?

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