Ephesians 2 Plan
Updated July 22, 2020
A plan to help Center Church more faithfully reflect the diversity of our community and proclaim the diversity of God’s Kingdom.
In Ephesians ch. 2 the apostle Paul argued that because all true Christians come before God based on what Christ has done for us rather than what we have done, we are all equal before him. In v. 11 Paul developed the consequential and practical outworking of that doctrine as it relates to the “breaking down” of walls of hostility between believers – whether those walls are ethnic, economic, generational or otherwise.
As Christians, our primary identity now lies in the fact that we are “in Christ” and part of his kingdom. This theological truth does not obliterate the reality of skin color, cultural differences, economic differences or generational differences, but it does overshadow and override all other identities.
Thus the primary identity for us, whether we are Black Christians or White Christians, rich Christians or poor Christians, baby boomer Christians or millennial Christians, is that we are Christian (“in Christ”). This should dominate our thinking and our self-identity.
Thus the local church should be characterized by unity amidst diversity. Ideally, each local church should reflect the diversity of its community while proclaiming the diversity of God’s kingdom (Mth. 28:19-20, Acts 1:8, Rev. 5:9).
This theological truth is clearly taught in scripture but it must be worked out in the context of the local church. Like many aspects of the Christian life, unity amidst diversity won’t occur on its own. It will require much prayer, steadfastness, intentionality and effort to be realized.
The Ephesians 2 Plan (E2 Plan) has been established to help Center Church do that. The goal of the E2 plan is to help Center Church more faithfully reflect the diversity of our community and proclaim the diversity of God’s Kingdom.
This applies to diversity across various spectrums, but in consideration of the current cultural moment, the E2 plan will pay particular attention to helping Center Church grow in reflecting the ethnic diversity of our community and proclaiming the ethnic diversity of God’s kingdom. To help achieve that goal the E2 plan has been organized around three components: Education, Relationships, and Application.
To faithfully make progress in this area we will prioritize helping Center Church grow in four areas of education:
– What does the Bible teach about race and ethnicity?
– What issues do (most) Bible-believing, Jesus-loving, gospel-celebrating Christians agree on?
– What issues do (most) Bible-believing, Jesus-loving, gospel-celebrating Christians not agree on?
– What is the history of race and racial injustice in our society? How are those realities currently felt today?
We believe that strong relationships between Christians of different backgrounds is one of the most effective means of increasing awareness and empathy surrounding ethnic tension in our society. To that end we desire to help our church grow in the following ways:
– To inspire and cultivate strong relationships between believers of different ethnicities
– To be quick to listen to those who have experienced the world differently we have so we might effectively bear each other’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ
– To continuously give one another “the benefit of the doubt” as we engage in these conversations
– To enter into a dialogue as “family members in Christ” who are committed to loving and caring for each other even when there is disagreement surrounding particular issues
– To exhibit patience and steadfastness towards each other as we seek to grow over time
To make progress in this area our church most apply what we learn. We do not desire to be hearers of the word only but doers as well. To that end, the E2 plan is designed to establish action steps that will help us better exhibit unity amidst diversity without jeopardizing the overall mission of Center Church. Towards that end several questions are listed below:
– How can we help our current members better exhibit unity amidst diversity?
– How can we inspire and cultivate healthy conversation around this topic?
– How can we make Center Church more welcoming to people of various ethnic backgrounds?
– How can we disciple our people to think Biblically about this topic?
This plan is not perfect, nor does it attempt to say everything that could be said or done to address ethnic tension in American society. As local church pastors, we possess neither the training nor expertise to thoroughly address complex issues such as systemic injustice and issues related to law enforcement and the judicial system.
As Christians we are most fundamentally “citizens of heaven” but by God’s providence, we are also citizens of the United States for the time being. As a result, we have a responsibility to serve as “salt and light” in our society (Mth. 5:16). Our goal as a church is to equip our members to engage Biblically with the topics of our time so as to be salt and light in the world.
– Pastors of Center Church