Embracing and Cultivating Diversity in the Church

Diversity Defined: State of different types of people (as people of different races or cultures) in a group or organization. (Webster)

Recent Survey Findings on Race and the Church

  • Is racial diversity good for America? – 82% yes, 14% no, 4% not sure
  • Are Churches in America segregated? – Half said yes
  • Is the church handling diversity well? – 67% yes, 33% no
  • Is racial reconciliation mandated by the gospel? – 90% yes

Understanding Diversity from a Biblical Worldview

  • Diversity in Scripture. God saves all.
    • Revelation 7:910
    • Ephesians 2:1418
    • Acts 2:5; 8:27; 10:22
  • God’s eternal plan involves people from every tribe and tongue.
  • Biblical worldview terminology (multi-cultural vs. multi-colored)
  • Where am I? –Leader Where are they? –Church
    • Examine your church and yourself and honestly evaluate where you are. Start from there.
    • Historical Context and current context
    • It’s messy! There is not a simple way to do this. Be patient. Exercise wisdom. Keep working through it.

The Big Split

  •  Some people tend to move to a new city and recoil and group together with those who are like them. Are the people in your church only gathering together with those who are just like themselves?
  • Christ’s body is one. If one suffers, then all suffer. If one rejoices, then all rejoice. We are called to be one with all believers (1 Corinthians 12:24).

Understanding Leads to Embracing

  • Genuine interest in values of others (having wisdom). How do you approach this? Approach in a way that is gracious and not offensive. Approach with an attitude of love and learning.
  • Healthy eagerness to improve relations.
  • Actively seek ways to help where you are. Seek to understand.
  • Sensitivity to perception.
  • Having a desire to know what people think of the church.
  • Keep your ears open to what people in the community think about your church. What does the city think of the church? Know how you are viewed and be receptive.

Cultivating Diversity

  • Celebrating where it exists
  • Promotion–let it reflect who you are and who you want to be.
  • Worship style. Is the music played reflective of the audience? Does it reflect who is there? Does the music connect with our trials/challenges?
  • Diversity in church leadership (staff). Diversity in leadership can reflect the congregation. Follow God’s leading as you look to involve staff from a variety of ethnic backgrounds.
  • Quarterly gatherings to discuss ethnic needs/changes in the church and community
  • Humility in learning from others
  • Action steps after Awake services
  • Diversity in authors/resources used in adult education
  • Initiating diverse leadership in ministry (lay)
  • Empowering diversity in reproductive leadership roles. Is there spiritual gift/personality strength in ethnicities? Look at these areas when helping your lay leaders find their place of service.
  • Addressing cultural issues. Timing and urgency. Christians have a desire to discuss what is going on in the world but they aren’t hearing it discussed in the church so they read and discuss it in the culture. They are getting their perspective from the world.
  • Equipping the body to apply Biblical worldview mindset
  • Encourage the Body to see what is going on in their community.
  • Responding to the issues (The church is silent on issues the world is not silent on). Help the church to see how they can affect the issues of the day. The church cannot be silent about the relevant issues because the world is not.

Table Talk and Q and A

  • If you could implement a way of embracing diversity in the church what would it look like?
    • Build up the individual.
    • Have a mindset that embraces every single person. Value everyone in the same way.
    • Have a leader who is willing to embrace and talk about racial reconciliation from the platform.
    • It starts with the leaders and those discipling others. Teach your members how to talk with those from all ethnic backgrounds. Help them to have a heart for people from all races.

 If you could cultivate diversity in the church, what would be your first steps?

  • Focus Groups
  • Learn the culture (hair, clothes, family)
  • More worship (Tasha Cobbs, Tamela Mann)
  • Have a safe place to talk about issues they are facing. (Ex. Immigration)
  • Leadership (diverse) (generational and ethnically)
  • Celebrating diversity by worshipping together. Incorporate different worship styles.
  • Teaching more about racial reconciliation. Need to hear more practical teaching on how to respond to racial issues.
  • Having a diverse leadership team is important in reaching all ethnicities.
  • Having regular discussions with staff and lay leaders in order to cultivate diversity and ongoing discussion?
  • Have services in different languages.
  • Go to where the people are in the community. Love and welcome them into the church.
  • Identify people from other ethnic backgrounds and have honest conversations about racial reconciliation.
  • Have Life Groups and other small groups that are taught in other languages so that every guest and member will feel welcome.

How much emphasis would you put on achieving diversity in the church? Why?

  • Base on the individual. You should be100% intentional with every person. It’s about the individual and investing in everyone.

How do you help other churches if your church has plenty of resources but don’t want to offend by offering to help?

  •  Establish a relationship. Once you have a bridge, you can offer them help if they need it.
  • Approach with humility. Ask them how you can partner with them. Seek to learn from them and how to best reach the community

“Our identity is in Christ.”