Engage your church in the life of your immigrant friends

By Executive Director John Yoder

In previous blogs, I’ve shared how you can build strong relationships with friends from other cultures.  While there are powerful contributions one person can make to the life of an immigrant family, our belief in the Body of Christ leads us to conclude that they will be better off served by a community than by an individual.  As someone who has developed skills in building cross-cultural relationships, God can use you as a role model for others who aren’t as gifted.  Here are some practical suggestions for engaging your church in relationships with your immigrant community.

  • Start small and work your way up. Begin by introducing your friends to immigrants who live nearby, speak some English and generally like Americans.  Moving people across shorter cultural distances may help them develop tolerance for relating to those more culturally distant.
  • Walk your American friends through the phrases and questions you learned in our earlier blogs. Let them watch you demonstrate initiating conversations.
  • Engage the teens and young adults of your church, who will more naturally flow cross-culturally than our older generations. If your church has a passion to raise up a generation of future missionaries, explain that it’s also highly valuable to equip a generation of godly laypeople who will serve the nations who live around them.
  • Engage your church programmatically in ministries with a low bar of entry, such as welcoming international students or teaching English
  • Worship or pray together with cross-cultural believers. Multiethnic services can be a good starting point.
  • Host a sporting event. Choose a sport that is appealing to many global cultures, or to one specific culture you’re serving.
  • Identify spiritual resources you can quickly identify and use. Visit our directories of online Bibles and other ministry materials.  Also explore online disciple-making resources for over 30 major language groups
  • Welcome immigrant parents to tour your children’s and youth ministries. They will have greater peace entrusting their children to people they know and trust than to strangers.  Invite those parents to serve alongside you.
  • Aim for the low-hanging fruit. Make progress with those who are open, but understand that not everyone will want to befriend those from other cultures.