Four Essential Tools for Understanding Your New Neighbor’s Religion

On my small, short block in San Francisco, there are people who represent various races, ethnicities and nationalities. They are Chinese, Burmese, Vietnamese, Caucasian, Armenian, Japanese, and African American.
My city, like many of your cities, has a high foreign-born population. Our neighborhoods, like yours, are filled with people who not only do not know Christ, but who are adherents of other religions, including Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism.
New churches can no longer ignore this.
Not only does the visibility of the newcomer in our midst make us aware, but the rebirth of a missional/ kingdom mindset in the Christian world propels us as church planters to care more than we ever have. We pray, seek, and listen to the Holy Spirit. We act to form friendships, we learn, and we share.
This blog post is dedicated to sharing a few websites about discovering the sacred gathering spaces of people who represent the world religions listed above. The goal is to be informative so that Christian church planters, some of the most strategic thinkers on earth, can learn to think and act in both global and local ways.

I. Islam

Salatomatic claims to be the world’s most comprehensive guide to mosques and Islamic schools. It lists the branch of Islam, the language of services, and often the ethnic background of constituents. The site is frequently updated. Another great site lists halal restaurants and markets for Muslims by cities and zip codes.

II. Buddhism

Buddhanet helps identify not only where temples are located, but also the Buddhist tradition to which that particular sacred space adheres. It lists Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana (Tibetan) and Non-sectarian/Mixed temples.

III. Hinduism

USATemples lists Hindu temples all around the United States. Another way to meet Hindus is at festivals. You can also find a list of Hindu festival dates through 2015 here.

IV. Jainism

Jaintemples list all of the Jain temples and centers in North America. Jainism is one of the world’s oldest religions. Jains are doctrinally vegetarian and often volunteer at animal rights organizations, which makes this an easy way to identify and meet them.
So go ahead— find, meet and welcome your neighbors! Pray for them.
Recently, a Hindu man had a dream that God told him to visit a certain new church in San Jose, California. He googled the name of the church, visited that morning, and met Christ there.
How about that?
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About the Author
Linda Bergquist

Linda Bergquist

Linda has been involved in church planting for 38 years, 36 of which have been in urban areas. She is currently a church planting catalyst for the North American Mission Board and has served as an adjunct professor in several seminaries. She co-authored the books Church Turned Inside Out, The Wholehearted Church Planter, and City Shaped Churches and authored the Exponential ebook: The Great Commission and the Rest of Creation.

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