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Features six key bridging the gap actions to support unity for a M.O.S.A.I.C. church…

Jan Paron/October 19, 2012

Bridging the Gap

Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-23 provides direction for a unified, Body of believers from all tribes and nations through four major premises for oneness (Table 1.1) for the Church of Jesus Christ. These premises give reason to bridge the gaps that divide the Body and deter reconciling the called with God and each other through unity of the Spirit. By unifying the Body and the local church, believers display spiritual oneness that glorifies Christ to the world for the sake of the Gospel.

Table 1.1 (Jan Paron, All Rights Reserved 2012)

The M.O.S.A.I.C. Church

Standing on the four premises for unity as a foundation, you first define characteristics of a heterogeneous, multicultural environment—a mosaic church.  This church (1) supports God’s intent that the ‘called’ from every culture and generation have access to the message of salvation; (2) values the rich diversity displayed in the tapestry from the Christ community; (3) makes room for grace to people from all tribes and nations and (4) has a congregation that is both multicultural and heterogeneous, showing a stew pot blend.[1]

M.O.S.A.I.C. Leadership: Framework for Bridging the Gap

What is the leadership framework that bridges the gaps for a unified church? With this question in mind, Scripture provides leaders with six essential bridging actions for oneness. To remember them, the actions combine into the acronym, M.O.S.A.I.C.: “M” (Multitudes); “O” (Openness); “S” (MeSSage); “A” (All); “I” (Impartiality and Inclusion) and “C” Communication. [2]  Let’s take a closer look at the six bridging the gap actions for a unified, mosaic church (Table 1.2).

Table 1.2: M.O.S.A.I.C. Framework for Bridging the Gap Leadership
(Jan Paron, All Rights Reserved, 2012)

Action 1: “M” Intentionally Ministers to the Multitudes

In order to join the called from every tribe and nation into one fold with one Shepherd, one must take intentional steps in ministry to support “unity through opportunities for reconciliation, invitation across cultures, diverse ministry team, brotherhood, cross-cultural relationships, spiritual growth measures, community and culture needs.”[3]

Jesus freely offered the salvation message to the marginalized of society. He broke “down the middle wall of partition between us; by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace” (Eph. 2:14-15 KJV). These were intentional acts on His part. Several examples can be found of Him reaching out to the multitudes, and in the process, He tore down the wall that separated people from the salvation message. You see examples of His reach to the multitudes: Jesus evangelized to the Samaritan woman at the well and dwelled with her town people (John 4); ate with sinners and tax collectors, i.e., Levi the publican (Luke 5:29); healed a man with dropsy (14:2); forgave a criminal while He was on the Cross (23:43). After His ascension, Jesus sent power, “after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” to be witnesses “to the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8) The infilling of the Holy Spirit (cf 2:38; cf 2:4; 10:46; 19:6) during New Birth, enables believers to show the aspects of forbearance and love from the fruit of the Spirit (Eph. 4:2-3) to each other that brings about unity of the multitudes.[4]

Action 2: “A” Views Others With Openness

One shows openness by “willingly learning and seeking to understand different cultures for the cause of the Gospel; viewing without judgment; honoring all people and showing that each have equal status in the Kingdom; exhibiting cross-cultural servitude; practicing hospitality in the context of another person’s culture, showing love, compassion, care and personhood, connection to brotherhood within community and valuing the diversity of the one human family who God created in His image”[5] As such, you respect other people’s culture and consider their viewpoint as influenced by cultural background.[6]

During Jesus’ earthly ministry, the disciples did not join seamlessly as a group. They sometimes showed jealously and conflict or judged those within and outside their own circle. Jesus stressed solidarity. He never wavered in His love for the disciples. For “Christ loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end” (John 1:1). Even before the feast of the Passover, Jesus knew His time had come (13:1). The disciples and Jesus finished their supper (13:2), the devil “put into the heart of Judas Iscariot to betray” Jesus (13.2) and Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, “knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands…” (13:3). Yet, Jesus washed the feet of His disciples, including those of Judas. In ancient times, people deemed foot washing as a task for slaves. Jesus performed this act, showing the love of a servant’s heart. He did not breach His love, showing the same for each. He also modeled that they should wash each other’s feet in this save type of servitude (John 13:14-16).[7]

Action 3: “S” Adapts the Method, Keeping the MeSSage

Be open and flexible with people from different backgrounds; while at the same time, have a willingness to examine and change existing perceptions them. In order to adapt to different cultures to bring about unity you have to contextualize the message, yet sift through and practices that do not align with Scripture. You “realize that people perceive communication and interaction differently; adapt ministry to include people, change practices to adapt to different cultures and avoids practices that promote colonialism” to support unity as a body of believers. The goal is to unite the body in Christ and as He within the body to be “made perfect in one” (John 17:23). It is through the process of adaptation that you open doors to reconciliation. If you look again at the foot washing, Peter twice protested to Jesus about it. The second time that Jesus responded to Peter, the answer was stronger and clearer. Jesus had to change the message’s content so Peter could understand that he needed to be washed in a spiritual way and perfected in Christ.[8]

Action 4: “A” Focuses on the Call to the All

Christ’s vision stretched forward to them who would believe in Him through the disciples’ word, “that they all may be one” (John 17:20). This means a leader has the responsibility to forward Jesus’ vision and minister to society. The Blue Letter Bible defines all in Matt 28:19, as “each, every, all, the whole, all things, and everything.” Thus, a leader supports impartiality and inclusivity in all aspects of ministry, as well as shows actions of acceptance through inclusion and holds attitudes that are impartial or unbiased towards others. Above all, this requires that a leader not move, yield or waver in the call — Endure and stand in calling through Christ. Other actions associated with the call to the all are to “bring together a diverse congregation; nurture a faith community that supports transformation for all people; negotiate cultural boundaries; create a culture for discipleship to develop leaders across cultures and generations in an indigenous context; model actions of a peacemaker; prays unity for and with leaders, believers, and those to come”[9]

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus says, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised. Jesus stayed true to this mission, despite great opposition. Likewise, Jesus commanded His disciples to, “Go ye into the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:20).

Apostle Paul took up this charge and kept his focus as missionary to the Gentiles. Paul did not stray from his purpose despite being shipwrecked, bitten by a snake, beaten, verbally assaulted, run out of town and imprisoned. After his conversion, he took missionary journeys, planted churches, wrote letters, disciple leaders and supported established churches. He said, “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” (1 Cor 9:24).When believers keep to this call across culture, shoulder-to-shoulder as one fold, they to bear witness in unity to Jesus’ identity as the Sent One (John 17:21b).[10

Action 5: “I” Shows Inclusion and Impartiality

This type of unity supports actions of acceptance through inclusion and impartiality towards others. It means that there is no room for racial superiority, inaccessibility or partiality. A leader must “incorporate methods/activities that give access, invite and welcome a broad base of people groups across cultures; model impartiality & inclusivity across cultures; celebrate and encourage the presence of a variety of people in all activities and recognize differences as diversity and not inappropriate responses.”[11]

Luke 7:36-49 compares exclusionary and inclusionary attitudes and practices. On one hand is the Pharisee’s exclusionary attitude. He not concerned about the “woman of the city who was a sinner,” weeping as she wiped, kissed and anointed Jesus feed with ointment (7:37-28). Coming from an inclusive perspective, Jesus commended the woman for her faithfulness and forgave her sins (7:44-48). As a result of the latter, the woman joined the “one fold and one shepherd” (John 10:30).[12]

Action 6: “A” Uses Value Communication

Communication connects people from different cultural backgrounds to the Gospel message by serving as a bridge. Apostle Peter says to “be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous;  not returning evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary blessing, knowing that you were called to this, that you may inherit a blessing”” (1 Pet 3:8-9). Cross-cultural communication launches and maintains unity. It requires that a person neither use one-style or one-way type of communication. Further, a leader “values deep listening with others, seeking to hear the said and unsaid; receptively listens with patience and respect; realize one’s own expectations and learned experiences serve as a filter to understanding; aims to understand and emphasize with others regardless of denomination, race, ethnicity, socio-economics, gender or age, etc. and affirms when communicating and values deep listening with others, seeking to hear the said and unsaid.”[13]

The apostles used affirming language that showed the love of Christ. For example, Apostle Paul gave Timothy a holy greeting with, “Grace, mercy and peace” (1 Tim 1:2) and the Roman saints, as Grace to you and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom 1: 7). He spoke life into the saints at Ephesus by telling of their identity in Christ (Eph 1, 2). Whether Jew or Gentile, Paul affirmed their identity in Christ, thus, giving everyone equal value as a child of God.

Conclusion

The premises stand the test of time, reminding believers of true unity. The hallmark is to view unity as one whole that leads to “one fold and one shepherd” (John 10:16). Ephesians 4:3-5 further explains this as, “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as you are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” Simply stated, one is one: one times one equals one and one divided by one still equals one. Believers must unite as one, across all cultural boundaries to fulfill Christ’s petition for His people.

To Ponder…

What are your thoughts?

[1] Jan Paron, Mosaic Church Series: Intro, Pt. 1, PerSpectives, (Alsip: PerSpectives 12 Training and Ministry, 2012), Cited: 19 October 2012, Online: http://www.slideshare.net/PerSpectives12/mosaic-church-series-pt-1introduction-perspectives-12.

[2] Jan Paron, Mosaic Church Series: Intro, Pt. 1, PerSpectives.

[3] Jan Paron, Mosaic Church Series: Intro, Pt. 1, PerSpectives.

[4] Jan Paron, “M.O.S.A.I.C. Church Instructional Model,” PerSpectives 12, (Alsip: PerSpectives 12, 2012).

[5] Jan Paron, Mosaic Church Series: Intro, Pt. 1, PerSpectives.

[6] Jan Paron, “M.O.S.A.I.C. Church Instructional Model.”

[7] Jan Paron, “M.O.S.A.I.C. Church Instructional Model.”

[8] Jan Paron, “M.O.S.A.I.C. Church Instructional Model.”

[9] Jan Paron, “M.O.S.A.I.C. Church Instructional Model.”

[10] Jan Paron, “M.O.S.A.I.C. Church Instructional Model.”

[11] Jan Paron, M.O.S.A.I.C. Church Instructional Model.”

[12] Jan Paron, “M.O.S.A.I.C. Church Instructional Model.”

[13] Jan Paron, “Leading in a Diverse Church Course,” All Nations Leadership Institute, (Alsip: All Nations Leadership Institute, 2011).