Pastor Micheal Mitchell, New Life Tabernacle, Brooklyn, NY.
What can pastors do to more effectively reach people of different colors and cultures?
Your primary focus should be reaching people. Pastors should seek resources to empower them to reach their community.
I am director of Building the Bridge (BTB) Ministries, which started 40 years ago with our late Pastor Nathaniel Urshan and was focused on African Americans. His intent was to bring diversity to the United Pentecostal Church International (UPCI).
Now, in 2018, within the black community here in Brooklyn, there are Caucasian teachers and Asian doctors. Every school around New Life Tabernacle has a diverse set of teachers and students. There is a shift in the mindset of pastors. All of us have now become diversified in our thinking because our communities have changed. You can reach any culture you desire as long as the community knows that you’ll accept anybody into your church.
What resources does Building the Bridge offer?
BuildingtheBridgeMinistries.com has resources for every type of community. We open our doors to funerals, weddings and counseling. We have substance abuse programs and do baby dedications. We’re a church that’s been in the community for 30 years. All I’m doing is taking what we’ve been doing, putting it under the umbrella of Building the Bridge Ministries, making the resources available to the entire UPCI and saying, “This is how you grow your church.”
What is Appreciation Sunday and how can it help churches?
Building the Bridge was the birthplace of Appreciation Sunday. Three years ago, there was turbulence in America related to law enforcement. When Appreciation Sunday came on the scene, the first thing it did was ease the tension in the community by saying, “We want to honor those who are doing well. Not all police officers are abusing their authority.” The police officers who came said, “We don’t know of any organization who does this, much less churches.” It took off. The following year, we did educators. This year we are doing health providers. Appreciation Sunday is one of the official days on the UPCI calendar. It takes place the second Sunday of September every year. Last year, over 2,000 churches got involved. On www.AppreciationSunday.com, you will find all of the downloadable resources for how to plan it, how to get people to honor, what the day should feel like, what kind of sermon to preach, etc.
How do you run a Summer Camp or After School Program?
A Summer Camp Program or After School Program would fit any community. Moms who need to work when their children are out of school can register their child, pay a fee, and have an educator and the team offer breakfast, a curriculum, social interaction and/or field trips. (We run ours from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m.) When your Christmas pageants take place, you’re going to invite the parents. They come to see their child; that’s the greatest child on the stage. You introduce your church to that parent who says, “I like this church.”
What is the Pantry Program?
We give away food to the needy once a week. They come in and register, stay for service, and get a package of food. We’ve had six get the Holy Ghost just by having them come every Tuesday and stay for Bible study.
What is the Sunday School Breakfast Program?
Our church was struggling with Sunday school attendance. One of the educators I honored became a member of our church, so I met with her and asked how we could get more children. She told me about the Breakfast Program in the public schools to get the students on time for school. A lightbulb went off in my head. I sat down with our church board and leaders, and we carved out a breakfast program. Our first week, we had 10 children. Now, we average around 167. We pick up the children from 9 -10 a.m. Breakfast is from 10 – 11 a.m. At that point, we have around 300 children ready for Sunday school.
Tell us about the Building the Bridge conference which happened on June 20-22.
The conference, which has no registration cost, was held in Atlanta, Georgia at Pastor Alonzo Terry’s church. Spanish evangelism and BTB had a combined service Thursday night with Bishop David Bernard speaking. During the day services, the participants were taught how to lead a diversified church, how to build a winning team, what your platform should look like, how to break the 100 barrier, and what resources fit your community.
Every pastor that comes to this conference will walk away with resources. More than that, they will have a renewed mind as to how to do church. It’s not difficult to save your community. Just love them. Offer what they’re looking for. People will just gravitate to our message. That’s what the conference is about.
Can our readers contact you if they have more questions?
They can contact me through New Life Tabernacle at 718-209-9111, ext. 11 and firstname.lastname@example.org. My personal email address is: email@example.com. The phone number at headquarters is 636-229-1727.
We have expanded Building the Bridge’s mission to reach more than just African Americans. It’s about community. When people see that the church reflects what Christ came to die for, you no longer have just a religious group. The church is no longer defined by one culture or one group but by its multiplicity of groups that are part of the congregation. Diversity comes through evangelism, but it’s intentional evangelism, reaching for everybody instead of just one group. Church can no longer be viewed as a place to just worship. It must become a place where you can belong and go for answers.