Posts Tagged ‘mindset’

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Diversity Is Not Just About Intentionality

Monday, September 1, 2008

I had just finished speaking at a church that was looking into the possibility of starting a Spanish-speaking ministry.  Excitement filled the air as church members visited among themselves and with a few members of the Spanish-speaking community that would be the core group of this new ministry.  As I finished speaking to one individual I noticed a gentleman waiting patiently for me.

“Art, may I speak with you in private?”

“Certainly,” I said as we stepped off to one side of the auditorium away from others.

“How can I help you?”

“Art, I want you to know that I resent your coming. Personally, I don’t want these people here.  I think they should go to the church down the street where they belong.”

“Tell me John, what is your concern?”

“I’ll tell you what my concern is, I don’t want to see my church changed.  I have been coming here for years.  I like my church just the way it is and I don’t want to make any changes just to make them feel comfortable.”

The pastor of this congregation had taken a number of intentional steps in preparing his church for diversity.  My speaking to his congregation was one of those steps. Unfortunately as our title states, diversity is not just about intentionality. It really isn’t!

Diversity refers to a broadness of range. In reference to a local congregation it encompasses age, gender, socio-economic status, educational achievement, employment, ethnic and cultural breadth.

Intentionality provides the building blocks that move a church toward diversity. Some of these building blocks are organizational structure, methodologies, models, developing an ethnically diverse staff and leadership, and including diverse musical genres in our worship services to name just a few. As critical as these building blocks are for us to move toward diversity, there is yet a more foundational factor upon which intentionality itself must be built.

That foundation is “mindset” the attitudes that reflect our preferences, biases, and prejudices.  In Philippians 2:1-8 Paul writes about the fundamental attitude all God’s children should possess and that is to be “other-centered,” to place the needs of others above our own.  He uses the attitude of Christ as the model for us to strive toward. Regrettably, John, a former pastor, was more concerned about satisfying his own needs than seeing to the needs of others.

The primary purpose of the church is not to be diverse, but to honor God, obey his Word, and make disciples.  As we focus on fulfilling the mandates of Christ, in an ethnically diverse community, our churches will naturally become diverse. It is the task of the pastor to lay a solid foundation of the mindset of Christ. Once that foundation has been laid intentional diversity can begin.

That’s my opinion.  I welcome yours.

Art

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