When we found out that Brentwood Baptist was starting a new “Multicultural LIFE Group,” we knew it would be a perfect fit for us. When we found out, about a year later, that God was asking us to lead in the group, I thought maybe that fit wasn’t quite as perfect. Here’s a bit of that story and what God is teaching us through our new position.
About 18 months ago, Brentwood Baptist began a new Multicultural LIFE Group. At its center, the group was created for families just like ours. Families where one or more members come from a background that is different from the majority of American culture. In our case, my wife is from Hainan, China, and I’m from Murfreesboro, Tennessee. We had been awkwardly splitting our time between the Chinese congregation and the regular church activities. We wanted to get plugged in to a small group but, because of our somewhat unique family situation, one of us always felt a bit like an outsider.
We got involved in the new Multicultural group and found an ideal fit. Not only were there other couples like us who had faced and dealt with life in the same way we were – we also gained group members who were 2nd generation immigrants and immigrant families raising children here in America, a culture and lifestyle very different from what they had known before. All together, we began to look at following Christ and understanding Scripture in a more practical way, separating it from whatever cultural norms or viewpoints we each brought with us.
Then in May, I was asked to think about taking leadership in the group… not what I was expecting! I felt inadequate, unprepared, and afraid to take on that responsibility. I had never had a leadership position in the church other than helping in children’s Sunday school or planning games in VBS. The thought of teaching adults, many who have been Christians as long as I’ve been alive, was a bit daunting. Then, on the other hand, many of our group had brought a variety of beliefs, practices, and thought processes from their background – almost treating Christianity as one more subject in their study of American culture. And then we always have a few who are skeptical seekers, not convinced that Christianity is the truth and not afraid to state where they disagree. Needless to say, I was overanalyzing the makeup of our group and doubting that I’d be the person who could handle it all.
As I talked with Jay Fennell, and over the last 4 or 5 months that I’ve been leading, one principle has stood out, becoming very clear and real to me. One morning in the Connection Center, Jay talked to me about living and leading out of the overflow of what Christ was doing in my heart. He told me that if God wasn’t working and leading in my own life, I’d never be able to work or lead in the life of our group members. Luke 6:45 says, “A good man produces good out of the storeroom of his heart. An evil man produces evil out of the evil storeroom, for his mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.”
I know that I am still growing into the amount of love, knowledge, and leadership needed to guide our class purely out of my spiritual overflow. However, I wanted to encourage the new leaders and old veteran leaders alike with what I’ve been realizing over the last few months: we have to first be looking in our own hearts and lives to see God’s working before we can ever truly be there for others in the way God intends. As we are filled to overflowing with the knowledge and presence of God, we can then pour out more for those God has given to our care. Those weeks when I know that I haven’t done my part to be filled, I easily feel “drained” because there’s not enough to give! It’s a simple concept that perhaps many of you had already grasped but, for me, it’s been a welcome realization. As group leaders, we must be constantly insuring that the “storeroom of our heart” is filled to overflowing and adequately stocked for the task at hand—loving, leading, and serving.
Written by Tyler Browning, F Leader of the Multicultural LIFE Group at the Brentwood campus. He and his wife LiYing have been attending Brentwood Baptist since their marriage in 2012. They met in a house church in Hainan, China, where Tyler lived and worked for 2 years. They are thankful and excited to be a part of God’s plan for reaching unengaged families in the multicultural community.