Mosaic Church

Mosaic Church



Mosaic Church

Mosaic Church

“Love Bridging Diversity”
Mosaic Church
Charlotte, NC
By Linda Kwak

Mosaic ChurchInstead of being limited and confined by how COVID relegated worship to online spaces, Mosaic took advantage of the online platform and maximized the opportunities afforded to them. From all of the online services that I’ve attended throughout 2020, I can say with certainty that attending the Sunday morning service at Mosaic church was the smoothest, most engaging, robust, and comfortable experience that I’ve had. The smoothness of the service can be attributed to their contemporary format that seems to have a high product value, which is evident in their camerawork, music, and editing. But more importantly, I could tell that the staff, who put the service together, were very intentional about enhancing the viewer’s experience. Mosaic utilizes many features that may have been used in in-person services but translate better on an online platform, such as a countdown, background music, video footage, and website tabs. They also take advantage of features that are only accessible online, such as posting links to fill out a Connect Card, online invitations to friends, chat buttons to respond and request prayer, and pop-up links for more information. Allowing the viewers to create an account or profile also allows them to feel like they are a part of the church, and overall, I was very impressed at the level of detail and care they put into every aspect.

Furthermore, as a Korean American female who is habitually aware of racial and gender diversity and used to feeling like a foreigner in most worship spaces, I was amazed that I felt extremely comfortable throughout the service. My comfort certainly stemmed from my background working in non-denominational megachurches, as there was a lot of overlap in the worship structure, contemporary vibe, and music with Mosaic, but I believe what contributed significantly to my comfort level was the diversity that is visible at Mosaic. The footage of the congregation that was played in the beginning, the worship leaders, and staff members all served to show the racial and gender diversity of the congregation. As an ethnic minority female who is seeking to become a pastor, it certainly put me at ease knowing that Mosaic has a female campus pastor and a Pakistani lead pastor giving the message. The most striking aspect about the service was the active chat, which is further evidence that the members are comfortable enough to participate freely. The level of comfort I felt was further enhanced by the casual, informal atmosphere that they created.

The name “Mosaic” comes from the church’s main tagline, which is, “Different pieces of a mosaic come together to make something beautiful.” This accurately reflects what Mosaic is all about, as the church’s “different pieces,” which indicates diversity, are what power and fuel Mosaic to take action and make beautiful things. Mosaic’s ecclesial model begins with how it was intentionally planted in Charlotte, North Carolina to fulfill God’s calling for the church to reach a diverse community. Because they were able to successfully do so and form a diverse congregation, they have access to different strengths, skills, passions, and purposes that different individuals each bring. The leadership then identifies the member’s potential, channels what God has in store for them, taps them, and guides them into serving in a way that is fulfilling. Because of the leadership’s aptitude for noticing people’s potentials, Mosaic has built a network of people that are ready to serve, and thus, they can put all the different innovative ideas that Mosaic has into motion. These ideas are fueled by love for the church and the local community, and this love even reaches globally. As this love continues to expand and grow, it continues to serve as a bridge that helps unite the members despite whatever differences that they might have.

To elaborate on Mosaic’s ecclesiological process, I found that the source of how Mosaic came to be such a diverse congregation can be attributed to Naeem Fazal, the lead pastor and founder of Mosaic Church. Naeem is a Pakistani man who was raised in Kuwait as a Muslim. Through a radical experience in college, however, he came into the Christian faith and was called to plant a diverse church. He is also the author of the book Ex-Muslim, and he is often invited to speak at conferences, churches, and events. Pastor Naeem expressed the struggles of church planting particular to his background, as he had to fight through a lot of insecurity and did not have a model to follow. He also voiced, “It’s hard sometimes to keep people, since I think if I was Black, White, or Hispanic, I think the church would be larger, honestly, just because there’s a sense of comfort when people go, ‘Okay, I can relate to you.’”

However, contrary to his concerns, I found while interviewing the members of Mosaic that the members actually like that the pastor has a completely different religious background, and they find his insights into scripture to be fresh and unique. They appreciate Naeem’s approach of taking out the westernized version of how we look at the gospel, and it is especially helpful for family members of immigrants to have a different worldview outside of western theology. The members respect that Naeem is educated on different religions and chose the one that literally called to him. Naeem also presented similar conversion experiences to Mosaic with a series that the church did on different faiths, where they taught about Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, and Islam. Each session was taught by someone who had converted from that religion.

I personally love how Mosaic isn’t afraid to speak about other faiths and instead chooses to educate their members and provide a unique experience. I also caught glimpses of what members might have been referring to regarding Naeem’s fresh perspectives, as I was inspired by his interpretation of Jesus’s healing ministry as free healthcare and his feeding of thousands as a food kitchen. Naeem is not only open to racial diversity, but he is also accepting of women in terms of women in ministry or in leadership. Mosaic is diverse and inclusive because they promote the notion that, “At Mosaic, you can belong before you believe.” Thus, they even have religious diversity since even people that don’t believe in Jesus are welcome. Mosaic has even touched their local LGBTQ community, and they have LGBTQ people who attend and volunteer.

There are many ways that one can serve at Mosaic, and I was surprised to find that just among the seven people that I interviewed, they’ve served in the following ways: response time team, teaching women’s Bible study, painting walls of the church, connection team, kids’ ministry, greeters, production team, nursery, leading community groups, women’s ministry, AV team, and leading seminars on financial literacy. Members feel that Mosaic is a place where they can use their own personal gifts to serve, and the church makes you feel like you can do things you’ve never done, pushing you to actually give something you didn’t even know you had. Kids serve at Mosaic as well, and they’re encouraged to volunteer and use their gifts. I think this is a great way for the younger generation to feel like they’re members of the church. The members of Mosaic tend to begin serving quickly, which is great since from my experience with megachurches, it’s a great way for people to feel like they’re actually part of the church. However, even though the volunteer teams that serve do so faithfully, there is always a deficit of volunteers, and the staff and team leaders put in great efforts every year to recruiting new volunteers.

The staff at Mosaic are always looking for fun ways to encourage people, and when they see a good idea somewhere, they’re not afraid to take risks and use it. They carry the attitude of, “Can we make this work? Why couldn’t we make this work?” and boldly decide to try it until it doesn’t work anymore. Their innovative spirit is evident when looking at all that they have put into effect since the pandemic began. Mosaic was already well poised to meet 2020 because they were heavy on technology and using social media. Unlike many other churches that struggled during this time, they did not have to figure those aspects out.

But instead of merely being content with what they had, they constantly pushed and adapted to the needs of the people. Small groups met for a bit on Zoom, but those already using Zoom for work meetings all day were burnt out. Therefore, Mosaic came up with new ways to allow people to feel connected and refreshed with what they call “Morning Breath.” These are 15-minute segments on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays where different leaders and members of the ministry take turns to share a food for thought, continue the discussion from Sunday’s message, and essentially breathe life into the members in the morning. Pastor Naeem also came up with the idea of “Q-Tips,” or quarantine tips, where people give short life hacks and tips for easy ways to do practical things. These initiatives allow members to feel like they’re still connected while they’re physically isolated. They’ve also taken advantage of the pandemic situation and were able to get worship leaders virtually that they typically couldn’t have before because they’re too expensive to fly out.

Pastor Naeem also had the idea of using the pandemic as an opportunity to do live-streaming online and hold Wednesday night prayers with other pastors, which wouldn’t have been possible before. This year, they had a staff member who had to move away due to the pandemic, and they decided to retool his job description so that he could continue working for the church remotely. Pastor Naeem is looking forward to having more people on staff who are fully remote in the future. Mosaic is truly responsive to the current needs of the people because they reach out and ask members if things are working or what could be improved instead of making decisions in a vacuum. Mosaic also sends cards and happy birthday signs to members and has the prayer team call and check on people to help them feel connected.

Another example of Mosaic’s innovations and opportunities to serve is the big idea of “What If Everyone?” It was developed by Ashley Fazal, the church’s Missions and Outreach Director and the wife of Pastor Naeem. She explained that the church does quite a bit within the Mosaic community, and they now want to take that generosity, skill, and kindness outward into Charlotte. What if everyone did something kind and generous to benefit their neighbor? They don’t do it with the expectation of getting something in return, but instead have the mentality that they’re blessed so that they can bless others. They have been able to do things such as reach out to local charities, build ramps for the accessibility-challenged, make fire station goodie baskets, provide tutoring and materials for people under the poverty line, make care packs for the homeless, and more. Members consider the message of “What If Everyone?” as the heartbeat of Mosaic, and it successfully mobilized members to not only reach out to their local community, but beyond into global ministries in other countries.

This was particularly great timing because an Italian ministry they partner with was hit hard during the onset of COVID-19, and Mosaic was able to financially support and feed them. The idea of “What If Everyone?” is a natural way for Mosaic Church to strengthen and enact their central message of “Hope for All.” Mosaic holds “Hope for All” as one of their biggest messages; they consider it as the reason why they exist. As Pastor Naeem says, “Mosaic exists to reclaim the message and the movement of Jesus, so everything comes out of that. So, our conversations, our relationships, our content [come] out . . . to reclaim something.” Thus, all of their ministries and initiatives are created so that Mosaic can reframe, realign, and make the message and the movement of Jesus very clear to people. This message of the movement of Jesus and their creative, bold, and passionate implementation of their innovations are the key features of Mosaic, the strength that fuels their ecclesial imagination.

Love bridges the diversity at Mosaic, and Mosaic has powerful stories that demonstrate how loving their community is. One of the members shared during the group interview that a month after they started going to Mosaic, his wife was diagnosed with breast cancer. During that time, Mosaic came to the rescue. People that they didn’t know were delivering food and supporting his family every single week in different ways. Similarly, another member shared how she once posted on social media about someone she knew from the local Guatemalan community, a man who lost his wife and two kids in a fire and needed financial support. Without her asking or making a specific request to the church, a donation was made by Mosaic to the individual’s GoFundMe account. It’s refreshing to see a church that does things behind the scenes to help people. I believe that it’s this loving spirit at Mosaic that allows for everyone feel welcome at this church. In all of my interactions with the members of Mosaic, I saw how impactful this sense of being welcomed was for them, and I felt the genuine love that they had for the church and people.

A particular story that was shared with me by Pastor Naeem defines the character of Mosaic. A few years ago, Mosaic hosted events that they called “The After Party” where newcomers have the opportunity to party and have dinner with the staff once a month. At one party, a guy showed up, which is not out of the norm since some people attend without signing up. What stood out was that he was Chinese, no one had seen him before, and he barely spoke any English. The event carried on and they all had dinner, played a game, and then had a time where people introduced themselves in the foyer. During this time, the new Chinese man got up and revealed he had just moved from China for a three-month stint in the U.S. He continued, “It’s just me, I’m alone, and I was feeling pretty lonely. I don’t believe in God. I just saw that you guys were here, and I saw that I could walk here since I don’t have a car. So, I just started walking, and I came, and I’m here right now.” Pastor Naeem wondered how he was able to find their event online, and this line of questioning immediately gave me the sense that this was an act of God. After the man’s introduction, one Mosaic member just felt like he needed to go and sit with him. Just from this experience in the foyer, the man and the volunteer had this great experience and conversation, and from that point on, the man began attending Mosaic, and the member picked him up every week. The member became the guy to befriend him and take him to places since he didn’t have a car, and while sharing in great experiences, they had all kinds of conversations about God, Christianity, and Jesus. That led to the man wanting to have a relationship with Jesus, which eventually led to him wanting to get baptized. Pastor Naeem told the member that the member should be the one to baptize the man. At first, the member thought that he couldn’t do it because he’s not a pastor, but Pastor Naeem reassured him that even Jesus in the scriptures did not baptize anyone, and his disciples did it without any official ordination or licensing happening. So, the member baptized him, and the Chinese man is still a part of Mosaic. He had to go back to China, and he told his wife what he had done and the story of how he came to faith and found a church. This led to the baptism of his entire family as well, and they all found a church in China to attend.

This event was significant in several ways: first, the supernatural nature of how things transpired could not have been orchestrated by humans, and thus, I get the sense that it was put into motion by God. This was genuinely such a touching story that I was left in awe of how God is moving in their congregation. Secondly, the one who took the initiative to befriend the newcomer was not in staff or in leadership. Not only does the member’s initiative demonstrate that the members at Mosaic are willing to take action themselves and are willing to serve, but Pastor Naeem’s encouragement for the member to be the one to conduct the baptism shows how all members of Mosaic are called to be ministers and the leadership appreciates when their members step up. The member’s actions also exemplify how one man’s action at a singular event could make a lasting impact, which serves to support the idea of, “What If Everyone?” Thirdly, I think it’s a great example of how the loving community at Mosaic is able to make people feel welcome and comfortable so that Mosaic becomes even more diverse.

With close to 1,000 people from various backgrounds that call Mosaic their home, there have undoubtedly been moments of friction, especially regarding political differences. One of the questions that I had that was also echoed by one of their members was how Mosaic might reach those that are more politically or theologically conservative, since a few couples have left the church due to negative reactions to Mosaic’s initiatives to affirm diversity. From what I have gathered in the staff meeting, it seems that there are people who skew more conservative, and one of the campus pastors affirmed how they have people from different points of the political spectrum that worship in the same space. However, it also seems that the differences appear unproblematic simply because they are not visible during church when everyone is together; instead, these differences are usually only apparent on social media.

I am left pondering, is love a bridge between diversity at Mosaic or a blanket that covers the differences? From everything that I’ve gathered from Mosaic, they’re able to overcome differences through love. They are quick to proclaim: “We don’t stand on the issues, we sit with people,” and they prioritize building relationships. I believe that’s how they will address future conflicts, and they don’t need to change the formula because it works. As one member asserts, “A big part of the reason that our church community is thriving is because of the adaptability. . . They’re not stuck in a tradition.” Furthermore, even though Mosaic claims to not stand on issues, I don’t think they are afraid to vocalize what they believe is right. In May of 2020, amidst the racial reconciliation conversations sparked by the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, Mosaic helped put together a “praise and protest” march in the city. It was the largest protest that the city of Charlotte had ever had. They were able to promote the message of “Hope for all” in a peaceful way, make connections and give the platform to Black pastors, and show their passion about dismantling racism. As Pastor Naeem stated, this is love’s fight, and to take these actions is to fight for love. I believe that Mosaic will continue to share their love, kindness, generosity, and welcoming spirit to reach even more diverse groups in the future, whether they be in their local community of Charlotte or online. I have no doubt that they will be prepared to meet that growth with excitement and further innovation as God moves within their congregation.

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