“We need to give each other the space to grow, to be ourselves, to exercise our diversity. We need to give each other space so that we may both give and receive such beautiful things as ideas, openness, dignity, joy, healing, and inclusion.“ – Max Dupree
Business has long understood the value of diversity. Corporate America recognizes that diversity is not a luxury, but a business necessity. The latest research finds that companies who rank high in gender, racial and ethnic diversity, are more likely to have financial returns above the industry average. Diversity is a competitive differentiator that shifts market share toward more diverse companies over time. Diversity makes a company better. Diversity also has the ability to make our churches better.
Think about what happens when you don’t have diversity. But there’s more to diversity than the color of the skin. There’s gender and age, geographic upbringing, personal interest, language, family structure, education, spiritual gifts and personality traits to name a few. What happens when you are not diverse? Consider this scenario: You clone yourself hundreds of times and once you have at least a hundred you start a church. Several hundred you’s may be interesting, but it would tend to be uninteresting and predictable, possibly even boring. There would be no one to fill in the gaps in your knowledge, experience or abilities. There would be no unique ideas or suggestions.
God created us as a diverse people and He wants us to work together to further His kingdom. That’s why He gave us different skills and strengths so that we would recognize our need for one another, while still appreciating our individuality. God made us different to make a better whole. And His love for variety is not just visible in us, but in all aspects of His creation. There are approximately 4,740 species of frogs around the entire world, not including the 120 species that went extinct over time.
Diversity enriches the Christian experience. We learn from those whose experiences, beliefs, and perspectives are different from our own. Diversity can go a long way to challenging stereotypes and preconceptions. It also encourages critical thinking and helps us learn to communicate with people of varied backgrounds. It fosters mutual respect with each other regardless of color, ethnicity, or culture.
Diversity is embracing and following the original blueprint of the early church. The early church came to realize that followers of Jesus may not look alike, act alike, sing alike, and we are all in need of the love of Jesus Christ.
- Do you believe diversity is Biblically mandated? Do you believe cross-race relationships enrich our lives?
- Do you see value in greater diversity in the church? Why or why not?
- Do you believe diversity will help with our prejudices? Why or why not?