John and Caryn Amandola are experienced church planters, having led a successful church plant in Peoria, AZ in 2002. 18 months later they sent out a successful third generation church plant from that congregation. John is an ordained pastor in The Missionary Church and is on staff with Global Training Network (GTN), an organization dedicated to training Christian Leaders around the world. He earned his Master of Arts in Biblical Communication at Phoenix Seminary in 2001, and his MDiv in Leadership Development in 2009. Caryn holds a BA in Communication from Texas Christian University, and is currently working towards earning her Master’s in Professional Counseling. John is a native Long Islander and Caryn is from Phoenix, Arizona. They have been married since 1986, and have three teenage boys. They have returned to the Island because of a great love for the area and the people, and a passion to see the Kingdom of God advanced there.
Below is an excerpt from John and Caryn’s October 2nd ministry update:
“It is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.”
-Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Dr. King’s vision of desegregation in America has been realized in many aspects of American Life. Sadly, however, the one place that has changed little since he uttered these words nearly 50 years ago is the church. The most recent study has found that 95% of all Evangelical churches in America are still “monoracial,” meaning that 80% or more of the congregation is of one ethnic group.
We made a commitment at Lighthouse to be “Ethnically Inclusive.” This means much more than an ”open door policy,” which simply welcomes all people to come and conform to what already exists. True ethnic inclusivity means that we go beyond an open door, and invite all people to contribute their cultural uniqueness to the community at large. This means that the end product is changed because of the influence of each culture that is present. For example, last week we read The Bible in both English and Mandarin. We sang worship songs in English, Spanish, Swahili, French-Creole, and Mandarin Chinese! We also frequently vary the styles of worship from Contemporary to Acoustic to Black Gospel.
Ethnic inclusivity necessitates a leadership team that is diverse. In fact, at Lighthouse, we did not even launch as a church until we were able to ordain a multi-ethnic team of ministers!
There is much biblical support for churches being multi-ethnic. In Genesis 12, God promised Abraham that he would be a blessing to all people of the Earth. The Hebrew word for “people” means races or ethnicities. So God always had in mind the gospel being for every race. Yet, “multi-ethnic” means more than “all people,” but “all people together.” For example, in the multi-ethnic church of Ephesus, where Jewish and Gentile believers had frequent conflicts because of their different cultures, the Apostle Paul encouraged them to “be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” The context of this command is multi-ethnic worship—and for good reason: we are practicing for our main activity for all of eternity, engaging in multi-ethnic worship:
“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”
At our annual Vision Sunday at Lighthouse last week, we unveiled our new “Identity Statement” to the community. It reflects our unwavering commitment to build a multi-ethnic church so we can more fully picture the gospel in our community, and be effective in reaching the most ethnically diverse place in the United States:
We are an ethnically inclusive community where all are welcome to belong and believe at their own pace as we encounter and extend the life changing presence of Jesus together.
It is not easy to be truly multi-ethnic! It means that we are called to defer our preferences to one another, engage in conflict resolution, and work hard. It means getting out or our comfort zones! However, it is truly rewarding as we enjoy the uniqueness and beauty of every culture present.
- That God will continue to work to make Lighthouse live up to its name by truly being a light to all nations!
- For our International Student Bible Study. Many students will find out about Jesus for the first time. Please pray that we would represent him well and that God would reward those who seek him.
- Several people who don’t follow Jesus have been attending Lighthouse. Some have troubling life issues that have caused them to become more spiritual and seek us out. Please pray that they will feel welcome and encounter the life changing presence of Jesus in our midst.
In His Love,
John and Caryn
To learn more about John and Caryn’s ministry, you can visit their website at www.lighthouselongisland.org or John’s blog at http://lentensausages.com.