Editor’s Note: The following article was written for the DFW Church in Dallas-Fort Worth, Texas, describing the development and progress of their Cultural Connection Team. Their story may be beneficial to churches building similar teams.
In 2014, the Asaads saw the need for our congregation to celebrate the diversity among us while deepening the love we have for each other. Todd asked the Sagets to help meet this need by looking into a training model on the topic of diversity that would be appropriate for our fellowship. After a string of killings of black individuals around the country and the killings of police officers in Dallas in 2016, our need to develop a training grew into so much more. We saw the need to establish a team that could help us deepen our love and unity while we processed the harsh realities of the world through a spiritual lens and while still being a light to our communities. The team consisted of Todd and Patty Asaad, Pierre and Shara Saget, and Marcos and Kinny Pesquera.
Beginning in 2016, we were able to use the expertise of Marcos, who is the System Vice-President for Health Equity, Diversity & Inclusion at CHRISTUS Health, to put together a workshop that started the conversation around diversity in the body. This workshop was facilitated by the Pesqueras and the Sagets and was conducted first with the staff of the DFW Church. We then conducted the workshop with all of the Bible talk leaders, the singles ministry, and then with each worship center. In total, it took about a year to complete these workshops. Following the workshops, the entire staff was directed to read Michael Burns’ book, Crossing the Line: Culture, Race, and Kingdom. In June of 2019, Todd invited Michael to come to Dallas to conduct a mini-workshop based on his book. This event was held on a Sunday, during a congregational worship service. Michael also provided a time of teaching the next day to help further equip the church staff in our task of leading a diverse congregation.
To date, we have continued to expand our team to include two representatives from each of the six worship centers of the DFW Church. We did this because we recognized that the work in this area is vast and important, therefore, we needed more disciples involved. We also took on the name Cultural Connection Team because we felt it communicates, in a broad but adequate way, the objective of the team. The team has met regularly since 2020 and seeks to provide educational opportunities that will equip our brothers and sisters to talk about our various cultural and racial differences in a way that promotes greater understanding and value for each other and those we are reaching out to who are different than ourselves.
One of these educational opportunities was born out of a meeting with Dr. George Yancey, Baylor University Professor of Sociology. After reading Dr. Yancey’s book, Beyond Racial Gridlock , and finding out that he lived in the Dallas Metroplex, Todd and Pierre invited him to have lunch with a number of the staff and elders of the DFW Church. We explored his thoughts and ways on helping multiracial churches develop greater love and unity because this is an area that Dr. Yancey is particularly interested in himself. We then asked for a second meeting to discuss the possibility of him presenting some of his research to leaders of our Texas family of churches and leaders of the Chicago, Kansas City and Nashville churches who joined us. Dr. Yancey’s presentation of his research was refreshing and timely as he discussed a viable way for us to fulfill our calling to be like Jesus as we navigate the divisive times we live in.
Our relationship with Dr. Yancey has led to an invitation for the DFW Church to participate in a new research project which will help teach and inform us on how to better love all nations. Dr. Yancey is set to provide a training session that will teach us how to have collaborative conversations with each other. This training will be followed by six separate small group sessions that will test the effectiveness of the training and allow us to put into practice what we have learned. The potential for growth in our fellowship is tremendous as we anticipate each of us learning how to come together and love each other deeply in a way that values the diverse perspectives we all bring to the body. We also anticipate that participation in this research project will better equip us to be about our mission of sharing the gospel with others who are different from ourselves. Our prayer is that God will be honored and glorified as we strive to sincerely love each other deeply and be a light to our world.