Friday, April 22, 2005

Creating a New Millennium Mestizo Church

Check out this learning exercise we did with the students in our reconciliation class in Philly:

You and a team of very capable friends and fellow believers (some from seminary and others that live in the city) are getting very excited about the possibility of planting a new church in the city limits of Chicago. You have generous funding, a great prayer team, great Bible teachers, musicians, and a list of potential team members you all have been compiling that may be interested in helping to start this church.

As you pray and research, you find that there are many needy neighborhoods, with thousands of unchurched men and women. It is coming time to decide in which part of town to focus your efforts, as you consider the following options:
Near North- This is a very trendy part of town with cool housing, restaurants, and many young singles (mostly Anglo) and very close to Lake Michigan
North West- This community was a majority Latino community, but is now experiencing gentrification, with many middle class young professional moving in
South West- This is made up of mostly African American and Mexican residents, also experiencing urban renewal, and there are poor and middle-class residents
South- This part of the city is almost predominately African-American, with with many historical neighborhoods
Loop- This is a very high rent district and close or in downtown. There is very little cultural diversity to be found living here
Near West- This is one of the fastest growing segments of the city, it sits in the shadows of the Sears Tower, and is surrounded by ethnic neighborhoods that are being gentrified

Remember, you are committed to establishing a ‘New Millennium Mestizo Church’ that is culturally diverse, and is inclusive of people with various educational and economic backgrounds.

What will you have to do to make this new kind of church a reality? Consider the following factors and create a plan with others in your group for developing this exciting, cutting edge church:
□ Location
□ Make up of team members
□ Ministry Priorities
□ Staffing
□ Music & worship styles
□ Language considerations
□ Facility
□ Budgeting
□ Relationship building / small group make up
□ Leadership
□ Teaching Styles
□ Community Outreach Strategy
□ Vision & Mission of the Church

Maybe this is an exercise you could do with a church leadership team, or with your small group. Is this kind of church even possible?

Mestizo Confusion

In the reconciliation class we are teaching this week, we have taken a few 'racial tolerance tests' to see where we are in terms of seeing and appreciating other races and cultures. One of the insights we are all tapping into, is the power of assumption. It is so easy to stereotype folks by one simple glance: the color of their skin, how they are dressed, the sound of their voice, etc.

As I was registering some of the students, I saw a name, A. Salinas, and I thought, great, a Latina is attending the class. When she arrived, I saw this dark skinned woman, and immediately called out her name (assuming it was her). When I said her name, she said, 'no, it's not Salinas, it's Salins (no a). She told me she was Indian. To my embarrassment, I though to myself, 'I though it was Native-Americans and not Indian.' Well, that would be true if she was Native American, but she is from India! I was so confused.

All of us are often guilty of making quick assumption about people (related to their class or race) that goes on to effect the way we view them and interact with them. A young woman in the class is from New Zealand, and until she opened her mouth to speak, I assumed she was from Kansas or Pennsylvania.

In a new mestizo society, learning to get to know others before making assumptions, is a huge value. Maybe the next time I sign someone into one of our classes, I'll wait until I meet them and get to know them before I make assumption about who they are.

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Faster than the Speed of Life

Remember that old saying, 'Faster than the speed of sound?' The other day I was watching ESPN and a commercial came on (I'm not sure for what), that ended with this tag line, 'Faster than the speed of life!'

When I heard that, it stopped me in my tracks, because at age 45 (ancient), time seems to be flying by. When I look at my kids growing up and getting ready to leave for college, I am blown away, cuz I remember those same kids in diapers, and not able to walk. Now, they are becoming adults themselves--time is moving at the speed if life.

There is so much I want to do, and often I think I can wait 'till tomorrow to get it done. I want to take care of my body, I want to grow deeper in my walk with Christ, I want to spend more time with my family, I want to get that degree, etc.

Today, being gone from my wife and kids all week, I'm thinking a lot about spending some time with them. This week Noel Luis and Stefan had baseball games I missed. Anna received a let from a program she applied to, informing her of her results. Marianne has to pick up report cards for all three kids (alone). House work is needed to be done. My car needs washing.

Everyday is moving faster than the speed of life. As I write this, I am asking the Lord to help me to live everyday to its fullest. To serve him, not necessarily without any hint of regret, because I'm learning that that seems impossible to do, but to live passionately for God in all I do.

My fifth grade teacher was a huge influence on my life. She was one of the first adults to tell me that I was special, and that I could amount to something. She attended my college graduation in Spokane, Washington, and it has been far too long since I have written to her, or better yet, gone to see her, to tell her that I love her, and that she was one of the people that changed my life. Time is moving faster than the speed of life!

Even though my short time here on this earth is moving at the speed of life, because of my faith, I know I am being prepared for spending an eternity in the presence of God. Then, I imagine I will say that time, is moving at the speed of eternal life!

Spanglish Word of the Day

Troca (TRO-ka) Truck. "Prestame tu troca." Let me borrow your truck.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

The City That Loves Well ?

I am in Philly the next few days putting on the CCDA institute at the Campolo School of Easter U. I am pretty sure the city's slogan was changed from 'the city of brotherly love' to something more PC (politically correct).

I had lunch yesterday with Andy Crouch, who is a writer with Christianity Today. He asks lots of questions like good writers do, I figure. He is a friend of Rudy's and it was good to connect.

One of the things I have been mulling over preparing for this reconciliation class, is the immense challenge of bridging the 'class' divide. It is so much easier to mix with brothers and sisters of different cultures when we have similar education, income levels, coffee preferences, and the like, than mixing it up in an authentic way with someone from a different economic class.

For example, I have a great friend from La Villita, that is from Puebla, Mexico. He speaks very little English, has values so different than my own, prefers drinking Sanka (in the orange packet) to Starbucks (he thinks I'm crazy for paying more than $1.00 for a cup of coffee!)

For us to be friends is a far greater 'cross-cultural' experience for me, than hanging out with Phil Jackson from LCC, or David Gibbons from Newsong, even though they are African-American and Korean, because these two brothers and I are alike in many ways (similar class, education, etc.), though our ethnic make up is different.

I can imagine a multicultural church of 'similar class' individuals way more that I can a church that is truly diverse in terms of economics & class.

Broadening the dialogue in this way seems crucial if we are to become a mestizo church.

Monday, April 18, 2005

Religion is a huge part of our Latino-US-Mestizo culture. The question I wrestle with often, is how do we help our culturally religious Latino neighbors, to become passionate followers of Jesus? Posted by Hello

Live and in Color

Thanks to Brad, I finally learned how to post photos on my blog. Marianne, Anna, Noel Luis, and Stefan (with the fro) are God's gift to keep me praying, full of joy, working hard, and humble. (Oh yeah, Oreo our mestizo cat is the one in the bottom right corner)

I was an Art major in college, and have created lots of computer/graphic art that I will share from time to time.


The Castellanos Family Posted by Hello

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Spanglish Word of the Day

Lonchar (LON-chear) to have lunch. Rudy, vamos a lonchar en mi casa. "Rudy, let's eat lunch at my house."

Our Mestizo Cat Oreo

We adopted an inside cat seven years ago to fight off rodents as we began to rehab a 100 year old house here in La Villita. I have never seen myself as a 'cat guy'. But, if we had to get a cat, it is cool that we have a female one named Oreo, who is a complete mix of black and white.

But although her color is only two-toned, she is also part Mexican, as her full adoption into our family became final when I reluctantly included her in a recent family photo we had taken. I guess she is now a part of the Castellanos clan.

While I did not have to make a point of including Oreo into our family in a public fashion, it is kind of freeing to 'go public' with this news. Part of growing in our mestizo consciousness is to grow more bold with our declarations and confessions about our changing attitudes towards cats, and others who are different than ourselves.

And like Oreo, no matter what color or colors we are, we can all be adopted into God's mestizo family.