We asked several Christian leaders, “What should churches served by CHRISTIAN STANDARD strive to be or do or look like in the next decades?”
By Cam Huxford
During the Christmas holidays a dream came true for me. I had a conversation with a man who shared with me his son’s plan to attend Point University in the fall to begin his preparations for ministry. This young man is a great leader at school and in our student ministry. He is bright, gifted, articulate, likable, and passionate about his faith. He is also from a Hispanic family. As I visited with this father and son, little did they know that this conversation was an answer to 30 years of my prayers.
In Revelation 7:9, John reveals to us the demographics of Heaven: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”
Heaven is going to be an amazing community made up of people from every nation, every language—every ethnicity will be represented there. This is apparently God’s vision for his church! However, when I became the pastor of Compassion Christian Church in Savannah, Georgia, that was not the reality of our church. In a city that is more than 50 percent African-American, we had one family “visiting” our church from the majority demographic of our community. In Georgia, the state with the fastest-growing Hispanic population east of the Mississippi River, we had no one worshipping with us from the Hispanic community. I wouldn’t presume to know all the reasons for this, but God has begun to answer our prayers for a solution.
The first African-American person to join our church was Jeri Jones. When she made her first visit back in the 1980s when our church was very small, she asked one of our greeters, “So any African-American people come to this church?”
He said, “Sure, everybody is welcome here!”
She walked in and realized she was the only person of color in the room. She was the African-American who came to our church. She said she stopped in the aisle for a moment to survey our lack of demographic diversity, and an older woman in our church took her by the arm and said, “Honey, you come sit with us.” This lady, like Jeri, had spent a career with her husband in the military, so she recognized what was happening and immediately reached out to make Jeri feel at home. This was the beginning for us.
Soon we began to pray every Wednesday night, for years, that God would make our church look more like Heaven—with all kinds of people from every nation, tribe, people, and language. We prayed, we became intentional about inviting, and we continued to welcome everyone. And gradually, our church has become more colorful—just like Heaven.
My hope is that in the decades to come, when we talk about our most effective preachers and our most exciting churches, they will be led and served by men and women of every ethnicity who will lead people from every ethnicity to a life-changing relationship with Jesus.
Cam Huxford serves as senior pastor of Savannah (Georgia) Christian Church.