Growing in Faith in a Multicultural Context

Culturally and linguistically diverse faith communities are the fastest growing part of the Church. What do they think about growing in faith? Assembly National Consultant Rev. Dr Apwee Ting looks at faith in a multicultural context. This is Part 1 of 3.

Faith exists and grows within a particular context. Our faith in Jesus is nurtured, encouraged and supported by our faith community. This is especially true for members of the Uniting Church from culturally diverse backgrounds.

Faith itself is a living Gospel – it starts with the good news in Christ, it is nurtured by family, friends and community, and it matures through service and living out our faith.

The Uniting Church acknowledges with thanksgiving that the one Spirit has endowed the members of Christ’s Church with a diversity of gifts, and that there is no gift without its corresponding service: all ministries have a part in the ministry of Christ (BoU para. 13).

Our context teaches us much about how to live according to our belief. Communal faith and practice are fundamental to our faith identity.

That’s why so many people are inclined to live and worship among their own cultural group. It provides us with familiarity and continuity in our belief.

For congregations or communities with one main culture or language, including English-speaking communities, one of the most important aspects of their ministry is to sustain their members with familiar liturgy and theology. This ministry nurtures their identity - culturally and traditionally - and strengthens their calling and mission as God’s people in a new land.

That is why we see so many specific language or cultural groups flourishing in our Churches in many parts of Western world. National Church Life Survey data shows that more than a third of church attenders in Australia (across different denominations) were born outside of Australia. Many Korean, Tongan, Chinese, Matu and Chin language congregations are the fastest growing in Australia. The congregation grows because of migration and communal outreach.

The reality of a multicultural context is one of the most challenging things for us as Jesus’ followers. Living in a multicultural community, with a diversity of theology, worship and culture, encourages us to rethink the ways we believe and why we believe.

The Uniting Church is a church with many cultures, languages, traditions and practices. We acknowledge and celebrate the importance of different gifts and ministries for all people. One body with many members.

One of the challenges of living in a multicultural church is how we relate to one another.  How do we grow together in a diverse community?

Read Part 2: Changing the context from a monocultural to a multicultural church