Houston is one of the most multi-ethnically diverse cities in the world.
As Rice University professor Stephen Klineberg told the Houston Chronicle, "You can't have multi-ethnic societies [like Houston] that aren't also multi-religious."
In Houston there are large populations of Mormons, Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Yoruba practitioners, Sikhs and Jains.
Reaching out in Houston's diverse communities means to come in contact with these faiths on a regular basis. To help local ministries better interact with, and witness to, people of other faith in Houston LINC's training institutes recently offered world religions courses and experiences.
Rev. Lincon Guerra taught a course on world religions for IBL students and Rev. David Kim and LBI Director Ken Chitwood led the disciples at LifeBridge Cypress on a multi-spot "world religions tour" of northwest Houston including stops a Mormon stake center, Thai Buddhist temple, Sikh gurudwara and Muslim mosque.
Guerra taught on religions and sects that impact the Hispanic-Latino community. He said, "The main purposes of the course is to recognize the different movements that infiltrate our churches and to support and strengthen our people's faith in the Gospel."
"Jesus warned in Matthew 24:24 that in the latter days there would arise false Christs and false teachers who deceive many, so this class is of utmost importance" he said.
For LifeBridge Cypress, the idea was to come into contact with religions they already studied at church through Bible study. The day of the tour LBI Director Ken Chitwood taught a study on interacting with other religions and Rev. David Kim brought a message on Acts 17.
Following a quick lunch the group headed to four places of worship of other faiths in the Northwest.
Rev. Michael Meissner commented on the importance of such an experience and said, "in an increasingly diverse world, it is essential for Christians to understand the beliefs and worldview of the people all around us."
"A tour like this serves a number of purposes," he said, "It helps us understand our neighbors so we are better able to reach them for Christ. And it compels us to dig into our own faith so that we are able to defend what we believe."
Participants Sam and Wendy Lemmons said, "Taking the tour was a great opportunity to listen and learn what others believe directly from them, to remember they are real people with names, faces & families sincerely searching for answers and truth."
Reinforcing this idea David Kim said, "I strongly believe that we cannot teach our people outreaches and missions in classrooms setting alone but allowing them to observe and interact with those people that we want to reach out with the gospel message of Christ," said David Kim.
"That was the original reason of why LINC began hosting groups of people to take Houston World Tour a few years ago."
Are you or your church interested in going on a Houston World Tour? Could it benefit your ministry and help you reach out in your community? Contact Rev. David Kim at firstname.lastname@example.org or LBI Director Ken Chitwood email@example.com.