Derwin Gray at Catalyst: 7 Tips for Leaders Looking to Build Multi-Ethnic Churches

Pastor Derwin Gray
Derwin Gray, founder and pastor of Transformation Church and author of "Limitless Life" speaks to 10,000 students at Liberty University's convocation in Lynchburg, Va., on Sept. 6, 2013. |

4. Develop diverse musical genres for corporate gatherings

"This is going to be very challenging for the church but not for the secular world," Gray said. "One of the things that we did was we intentionally prayed about having diverse musical genres. That takes prayer and that takes time and that takes intentionality, and not everyone is going to be satisfied. But you want it to be Christ centered. But if secular artists can do it, if Justin Timberlake's concerts are diverse, why can't our church gatherings be? If Jay-Z's can be diverse, why can't ours be?"

Gray explained that great bands and great artists tend to help grow churches. However, he stressed that the artists must have "humility." That's why at Transformation Church, they have enacted a "no divas" policy.

"If you put up with character that does not reflect the fruit of the spirit, that is called spiritual prostitution and God will hold you accountable," Gray said. "What happens when they fall and get thrown by the wayside? Sometimes we are the very reason why they fall because we see things in them characterwise but because we care about attendance we don't tend to their soul."

5. Develop a leadership pipeline

Much like with the musicians, Gray stressed that churches should not compromise their character by hiring leaders and employees who are very skilled and put on a great Sunday service but hurt people and don't reflect the fruit of the spirit.

"What does it accomplish if we are a bunch of jerks but we pull off a great Sunday? So the sum total of our church is one day? I don't think that is Jesus' idea. The church is a community of people who gather for worship, instruction and fellowship and you scatter into the world," Gray said. "In our gatherings, yes, there are people who don't know Christ. Praise God, we have had over a 1,000 people come to Christ and we have baptized almost 500. … But Transformation Church is not a destination, it is a people who have a destiny in Christ."

"Whatever that leadership pipeline looks like for you, figure it out for your own context. Just don't divorce skills and a transformed will. Merge them together," he urged.

6. Develop thick skin, soft heart, sharp mind

Gray explained that being in multi-ethnic ministry will undoubtedly come with criticism. Additionally, such ministry work will also have people who commit but later bail out for whatever reason. He said that leaders can't get too caught up in the criticism and assured that God will always replace those who flake out on the ministry.

"'I can't tell you how many times I have heard, 'Don't do it. It will never work. It's too hard. There is a reason why people like to be with people who are like themselves,'" Gray said. "That's called a homogeneous unit principle — people who think alike act alike. That also keeps you ignorant. That also keeps you stuck in cycles of prejudice."

7. Develop a powerful prayer life

Gray recited Paul's prayer from Ephesians 3.

"He says, 'I pray to the God, Father to whom every family derives its name,'" Gray recited. "Then, he says that 'I pray that God will strengthen you in your inner being as Christ makes His home in your heart through faith, that you would be rooted and grounded in love and that you, together with all of God's own people, will know how long, how wide, how deep is the love of Christ, that you will be filled with the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do exceedingly well beyond all we hope or imagine, as Christ works within us. Glory to Him in the church and in Christ Jesus for generations and generations. Amen."

"Love. This is how we do it," said Gray, commenting on the passage. "It's not a flimsy love. It is a love that will cost you love."

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