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Bishop T.D. Jakes Urges The American Church to 'Embody Unity' as Nation Becomes Increasingly Diverse, Secularized

( [email protected] ) May 07, 2015 12:25 PM EDT
Bishop TD Jakes has urged the Church in America to embody "the very definition of unity" and develop a strategy that is "far more inclusive of multiculturalism" as the nation becomes increasingly diverse.
''In the Christian parlance Agape is a selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love that will be the hallmark of the next decade if we are to see not only growth numerically, but conscientiously by widening the portals to engage with those that don't look like us, worship like us or vote like us.'' jsomething.com

Bishop TD Jakes has urged the Church in America to embody "the very definition of unity" and develop a strategy that is "far more inclusive of multiculturalism" as the nation becomes increasingly diverse.

In an op-ed for the Huffington Post titled "Stumbling Into a Pluralistic Society," the senior pastor of The Potter's House church first notes that the U.S. is growing more ethnically, racially and spiritually diverse while the the country's citizens are becoming "more and more secular."

He then contrasts the decline of churchgoing in America and Europe with the growth of the Church in Africa and Asia, and asks: "how will the church find relevance in the marketplace of competing ideas?"

"Looking ahead, it is clear that the 2025 church cannot be a cultural monolith, nor can eleven o'clock on Sunday morning remain the most segregated hour in the week," Jakes writes.

To combat this growing trend, the Dallas pastor writes that Christians should set an example of unity, and love as Christ loved us.

"The Church with a capital C must embody the very definition of unity and end the racial, doctrinal, gender and ideological feuds," he explains, calling on the Church to seek to "end the racial, doctrinal, gender and ideological feuds".

"In the past, the church had been the epicenter of cataclysmic change," he writes, citing the Church's commitment to social justice and educational reform, adding that the Church "must renew its connection to society".

The megachurch pastor then references 1 Corinthians 9:22, which says "I have become all things to all men, so that I may by all means save some."

He writes, "As I've met with more and more white, black and brown executives, politicians and faith leaders, we are becoming aware of our interdependence and that it is essential that our forward-looking strategy will require that devout men and women from various social constructs tear down any remaining barriers that seek to divide us!"

If Christians truly follow the teachings of the apostle Paul, Jakes notes, they will attempt to truly understand those from different backgrounds will work to meet a rising generation with different cultural expectations.

The megachurch pastor asserts that the only thing that will save the Church from becoming disconnected from society, is "selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love", which should include engaging meaningfully with those who "don't look like us, worship like us or vote like us."

"In the Christian parlance Agape is a selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love that will be the hallmark of the next decade if we are to see not only growth numerically, but conscientiously by widening the portals to engage with those that don't look like us, worship like us or vote like us," he concludes.

This is not the first time Bishop Jakes has emphasized the need for unity within the Church in the wake of a rapidly changing culture.

In late April, Jakes spoke at the The Reconciled Church: Healing the Racial Divide summit and urged the Church to become the "first responders" in the time of need.

"We are trying to unify a church that is not talking to itself," Jakes said. "It's embarrassing because now our nation needs us. When we look at what is going on in Baltimore and what is going on in Ferguson and what is going on in the streets of New York City, we should be first responders."

However, when church leaders fails to come together to form interracial working relationships, Jakes warned, the churches find themselves with slow reflexes when it comes to community crises.

"You can see by the pace at which violence erupts in our community, we don't have time to wait until it erupts and then say, 'Oh, I need to know you,'" Jakes said.

The Bible also frequently addresses the need for unity. In 1st Corinthians 1:10, the Apostle Paul urges the Corinthian church to "be of the same mind" in order to have a strong impact on the secular world around them. 

"I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment," he writes. 

Speaking at the Reconciled Church conference, Pastor Jakes notes that the Church has an obligation to come together and fight racial and social injustice.

"Quite frankly, it's not the guns or the violence that's killing our police officers or our children," Jakes said, "What is really killing us is the silence of the church."