There’s a deep well of treasure, insight and wisdom among the marginalized. In fact, I believe they are the very ones who will take the EFCA into the next paradigm of America. That’s why one of our main focuses as the EFCA All People Initiative is to ensure our efforts to plant multiethnic churches include the marginalized, oppressed and under-resourced—adding them to the spiritual heritage of our past with impact for the future.
The EFCA mission is “to glorify God by multiplying transformational churches among all people.” Multiplication among all people means different cultures, different generations and different contexts—all of which require different, unique approaches. For that reason, I’m incredibly pleased to welcome our new EFCA director of multicultural ministries, April Warfield.
I’ve had the privilege of watching April grow since she joined one of the first GATEWAY classes in Los Angeles years ago. In every interaction with the All People Initiative, April has brought richness, perspective and wisdom to our team. She is wise and effective—slow to speak, but when she does, it is worth noting. She has a unique, yet remarkable ability to talk about hard topics with grace and composure.
Throughout her career in ministry, April has worked with ethnic communities and helped build bridges between urban and suburban communities. Most recently, April served with Apex Missions, the EFCA’s next generation leadership pipeline, as the director of U.S. projects. In that role, she developed strategic partnerships with churches, urban nonprofits and community-based organizations to help effectively train and disciple students into deeper relationships with Jesus. For the past eight years, April has also been a member of the EFCA All People Council, so she already has established personal relationships with many of our All People leaders.
As director of multicultural ministries, April will help EFCA leaders understand how justice and compassion are essential to developing transformational churches. She will help serve an increasingly diverse EFCA and help bring our mission to fruition.
All of this being said, I want to give April a chance to share her ministry experience and her vision for this new role.
Q: Help us understand multicultural ministry and why it is important. What is it?
April: Our country is experiencing the greatest demographic shift in its history. In five states, we have “tipped” racially—meaning racial and ethnic minorities comprise more than 50 percent of the population, and non-Hispanic whites have lost majority status. These states are termed “majority-minority.”
In light of these shifting trends, the Church has a tremendous opportunity to bring the gospel in a culturally relevant way through proactive church multiplication. Planting multicultural churches is critical to meeting the spiritual needs of our socially changing landscape. Multicultural churches are ministries that embody some variation of racial, ethnic, lingual, economic, educational or generational diversity, with culturally intelligent leadership that embraces ethnic diversity. The value is placed on helping people understand the gospel in their context. Currently, 23.9 percent of EFCA churches identify as multicultural congregations (20 percent or more ethnic diversity).
Proactively planting multicultural churches reflects our commitment to love God and people well, make disciples among “all people,” and work together as one body with many parts.
Q: What is your vision for how this role will impact the EFCA?
April: I envision this role as a facilitator. When considering this position, I thought about the number of conversations I’ve had recently with some of our suburban church leaders who are beginning to see their communities “browning.” There might be a few kids of color attending youth group or a family of color who become regular attenders. It’s obvious they want to steward those relationships well, but they’re insecure or hesitant in their approach with these new friends. I wonder how many of our churches are experiencing this (or something like it) and could gain perspective and direction from a person of color. I believe there are many churches in our movement that have questions but lack personal relationships to gain insight.
Facilitating connections between churches and offering safe, grace-filled spaces for collaborative conversations will create a culture of “one anothering” that, I believe, will help our movement thrive. Hosting roundtable discussions among our leads will be a primary vehicle for facilitating conversations. There are many gifts of our autonomous structure. I’m excited to see how God blesses us as we intentionally lean into our interdependence.
Q: How have your past ministry experiences equipped you to be successful in this role?
April: I love building teams and collaboration. For more than two decades, I’ve held leadership roles in organizations focused on engaging communities and churches in ministry to the marginalized. I’ve worked collaboratively with teams composed of interfaith leaders, public-private partnerships with governmental agencies and educational institutions, and partnerships with multiple churches from diverse backgrounds. I’ve learned that listening well is an essential first step in building healthy partnerships. Working with such diverse groups has led me to embrace a philosophy of encouraging partners to “leave egos and logos at the door.” Through listening well and robust dialogue, common goals and objectives emerge. And through prayer and cooperation with the Holy Spirit, plans are executed.
While I’m not new to the EFCA, I look forward to listening to our leaders from this new vantage point and working together to implement plans and execute ministry to the marginalized for the sake of the gospel.
Q: How do you envision building partnerships with churches in the area of multicultural ministry?
April: By leveraging the existing ministries of the All People team. Alex and his team have built a cadre of ministries that are tangible demonstrations of God’s heart. The team provides theological training with curriculum in English and Spanish through GATEWAY. They engage immigrant populations and provide pathways to legal residency and the gospel through Immigrant Hope. EFCA All People also leads a disciplemaking ministry to Muslim and Asian immigrants, as well as multiethnic church planting.
These initiatives address many of the challenges faced by multicultural ministries, and these experienced leaders can help to strengthen new churches and invigorate seasoned ministries as they navigate these issues.
Q: What do you look forward to most as you enter this position?
April: Building partnerships, multiplying disciples and meeting felt needs in marginalized communities. I look forward to championing our effort to “love God supremely and others sacrificially, and to live out our faith with care for one another, compassion toward the poor and justice for the oppressed” (Article 8, EFCA Statement of Faith). This role will afford me the privilege of leveraging the wisdom and expertise of our multicultural leaders in this effort for the benefit of our greater EFCA family.
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