Broward County, Palm Beach County, and Miami‑Dade County in Florida are home to thousands of Hispanics, Caribbeans, and Asians. In fact, South Florida has the largest number of Cubans and Haitians living in the United States. Roughly 35% of South Florida residents were born outside the United States and another 33% were born outside the state. What better place to live out God’s ultimate plan of uniting all nations, tribes, people, and languages (Revelation 5:9, 7:9) to create one global race, one global culture, and one global humanity? However, great diversity brings great challenges within and outside the sanctuary of the church.
The South Florida Church of Christ is a multiracial, multiethnic, multicultural, multilinguistic, and multigenerational amalgamation of 1,300 disciples that reflects the diversity and flavor of a metropolitan area with 6.7 million residents, but we understand the importance of recognizing the biases and prejudices that may prevent us from spreading the gospel to all people. Therefore, the South Florida Church of Church brought in Michael Burns, a teacher in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Church of Christ in Minnesota, and author of Crossing the Line: Culture, Race, and Kingdom, to conduct an all‑church workshop on culture and diversity in the church and fulfilling God’s will of sharing his grace, mercy, and love to all people by becoming all things to all people (1 Corinthians 9:19-23). Small group leaders attended a Friday night workshop and the tri‑county congregation attended a half‑day workshop on being Christ‑centered, kingdom‑focused, and culturally diverse. Michael gave socio-historical analyses on culture and race, defined the Biblical concept of kingdom, taught how the early church dealt with culture and ethnicity, and explained the importance of addressing the issues of this world through Christianity and a spiritual perspective rather than using the tools of the world, which have been proven to be ineffective or, at best, temporary solutions. On Sunday, Michael preached in Miami on being like Jesus, loving the unlovable, being the salt and light of the earth, and living in the image of God.
Over the weekend, Michael reminded the South Florida Church of Christ that we have been called to leave behind the kingdom of this world so that we are free to pledge our allegiance to a new race and a new humanity where all people and their cultural expressions are welcomed.