Christians You Don't Have To…

train tracksChristians You Don’t Have To Go Across The World To Experience Diversity, Simply Go Across The Tracks.  There are many different ways for congregations to connect with a diverse group of people and going on an international mission trip is not the only solution.

Most churches give both time and resources to other non-profits, outreaches, ministries and mission efforts.  As it relates to Church Diversity, ministry leaders should look at the percent of their personal outreach and philanthropic budget that goes towards local multicultural organizations.  I’m not implying that a church should cut their international missions budget, I’m just saying look local.

The reality is church organizations can make great strides in impacting church diversity by exposing their congregation to local multicultural partnerships and outreach.  Congregations can find multicultural organizations to give to, partner with and work alongside.  When Jesus said go into all the world, that didn’t simply mean go around the globe—for many churches that simply means go across the train tracks.

For those of you who may not understand what “the other side of the train tracks” means, its referring to the fact that most communities were and some still are racially segregated by a set of train tracks or a dividing street.  It can be “The Hood” on one side of the tracks and things get a little nicer, cleaner and newer on the other side.  Hood or not, many times there is just a clear racial divide.

I thought the blockbuster movie “The Blind Side” provided an excellent illustration of what happens when people go across the tracks; the experience can be similar to an international mission trip.  When Christians get out of their comfort zones and be the hands and feet of Christ in a community that’s less than a 20-minute drive from their suburban utopia, eyes are opened.  In the movie The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock plays the role of Leigh Anne Touhy.  The Tuohy’s are a Christian family led by wealthy restaurant chain owner Sean Tuohy, played by Tim McGraw.  The short and skinny on the movie is the fact that a kid from the other side of the tracks got a shot to attend a rich private school, the Tuohy’s adopt him, he learns how to read, gets his grades up, becomes an excellent right tackle, learns to protect the quarterbacks Blind Side, goes on to play college ball at Ole Miss and eventually gets drafted in the 2009 NFL by the Baltimore Ravens.

There were several scenes in the movie where Lee Anne Tuohy was heart broken by what she experienced in “The Hood” only 20 minutes from her beautiful suburban home, in an area that she never realized existed.  She had a desire to reach out, give and make a difference.  She confronted some of her rich swanky girlfriends about their negative stereotypes as she had a desire connect with and change a community that she never knew existed.  She realized that You Don’t Have To Go Across The World To Experience Diversity and Serve The Under-served… You Simply Need To Go Across The Tracks.

Why don’t we simply go across the tracks more often?  Share your thoughts!

  • Great post. So many resources are used up on travel expenses alone. In many cases we do not even have to cross the tracks to help others, learn about others, discover common ground; sometimes all we have to do is cross the street.

  • Scott, this is such an important post. I often struggle with thoughts that I’m not being missional or doing what I should do to help those less fortunate because I haven’t been on an overseas missions trip.

    That fact is we can do “missions” work right in our backyard. We live in the northern suburbs of Indianapolis. It’s a pretty wealthy area compared to most. Just 15 minutes down the road we can easliy find “the other side of the tracks”. My family and I have become involved with an inner city church in Indianapolis and help serve there and minister to people. We take our boys (6 & 3 YO) and it’s a huge blessing for them to see that not everybody has it the way we do.

    I think the main point though is to not just show up somewhere, serve and then retreat. Sure, serving is a good thing, but building relationships with the people you’re serving is the best part. That’s what we’re called to do. I think people just want to know that we care.

    I could do on and on about the experiences we’ve had serving, but I’ll stop for now 🙂

  • MichaelSurovik

    Fulfilling the Great Commission locally within a one mile radius of the church will open the door for transformation to take place within a community…in a region…in a city…in a state.

    Churches have a location for a purpose, leverage your resources to fit the community and culture you have been placed in, change will begin locally and start to shape the community through the obedience of believers to the Holy Spirit’s plan and not man’s plan.

    Leverage your location and resources for God to work locally and watch God move into your neighborhood!

  • Excellent! While there is certainly a need for international missions, I see too often that people choose that road because it’s a sexy sacrifice. Doing things locally doesn’t have that same sexy appeal to it but we need to see that there’s a significant need for the gospel right here on Main street. Thanks for your post.

  • Excellent post. It seems Biblically-sound to me to focus locally on missions to start with. When Jesus commissioned the disciples in Acts 1:8 his description of where to preached started close to home and continued throughout the earth.

  • Xf

    There is no community that doesn’t have abundant local opportunities for service. (The poor you will always have with you.) Foreign “mission trips” are simply overseas vacations for the sanctimonious.

  • That is so true brother!!

    I’ve seen my fair share of people who will go around the world to ‘minister’ yet look down their nose at their neighbor across the tracks.

  • Nice post. I was born and raised in Lisbon, Portugal and I had the honor to meet missionaries that helped me see and know God. Although I think international missions are important, When Jesus said go into to the world, we was not talking about races, countries or states. He was talking about people wherever they are. We are called to live a mission life when we accept Christ. thanks for sharing this message.

  • Hey brother Scott! Thanks for this post. One of the things I appreciate about you is your consistent call to racial unity in the Church. I want to be more intentional about this in my life. For me, I experience “the other side of the tracks” at our local DMV. What a melting pot of humanity! Last time I went to renew my driver’s license I was really struck by the number of souls – wearing so many different shades of skin – all around us that need to know who Jesus really is. I want to stay uncomfortable in this. Comfort isn’t motivating.

    And to Xf above, while I can appreciate your point to a deree, don’t write off everyone taking short term mission trips as sanctimonious tourists. God can use those trips to change hearts – on both sides of the equasion. I’d encourage you to state your point with some encouragement rather than a whack with the judgment stick. For what it’s worth.

  • Scott Williams

    Great Comments and Discussions… keep em’ coming!

    jskogerboe- I agree, the short term mission trip to Ecuador that I just got back from was amazing…

  • Yes – and I’m planning a trip with a group from our church to Mexico this summer with my 12 year old. I am praying that God will use us, but also that He’ll change us. I rememeber serving the poor in Mexico about 15 years ago… seeing people living in cardboard shacks gives you a different perspective on our troubles here in America. And having said that, Scott, this post is also inspiring me to build some more intentional bridges to other communities right in my back yard.

Designed by EightDay Studio. Powered by the Standard Theme. Developed by Milk Engine.