There are many people groups which the Lay Preacher needs to consider when preparing a service. It is possible at any time that there may be visitors attending worship for whom ‘English’ is not their first language. The ethnic mix of any congregation is a matter of significance for Preachers. Elsewhere mention has been made concerning the importance of knowing the congregation.
As an accredited Lay Preacher opportunities may sometimes arise which result in an invitation to Preach in fellowships outside of our Presbyterian or Uniting Churches. It is good that we serve in an era of cross pollination and become exposed one with another. The National Dialogue for Christian Unity (NDCU) constitutes a catalyst for inter-church dialogue and celebration of diversity. We need to encourage respect for diversity which is deeply ingrained in Christendom and has been so since Pentecost. As Lay Preachers we should expect to deliver sermons which connect with different people, and to develop a variety of theologies in response to questions diverse people groups are asking.
Much of the doctrine we take for granted, such as the Trinity, was developed in response to questions which arose during the early centuries of Christianity. So we shouldn’t be surprised if ‘new’ theologies emerge today. Of course, these new theologies (and new forms of church) should be faithful to the word of God.
At Pentecost, the Spirit did not enable the different cultural groups in Jerusalem to speak the same language; the apostles were equipped to speak in different languages. What an affirmation of cultural variety! The Spirit touches individuals – and cultures – differently. People’s spiritual journeys are rarely the same.
There is a worthwhile ministry known as the ‘Joshua Project”
which illustrates the diversity of humanity as a challenge to the Church. Here is an interesting paper on People-groups-of-the-world
which is worth reflecting on.
Because in Christ ‘there is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male or female’ (Galatians 3.28)? In heaven there will be no divisions. Every tribe, tongue and nation will be gathered round the throne of God (Revelation 5.9-13, 7.9, 15.4). Shouldn’t church be a foretaste of this? Diversity and disconnectedness are matters the Lay Preacher will want to consider in fostering understanding and pastoral well being. Because he instigated it God obviously values unity across our diversity.