Diversity: Reach Out To Those Different Than You
Diversity isn’t a “step” in the EDLD process in the same way that evangelism, discipleship, and leadership development are. Rather, diversity is a value that must permeate the entire process.
Extending the Kingdom of God through church planting and missional living.
Diversity isn’t a “step” in the EDLD process in the same way that evangelism, discipleship, and leadership development are. Rather, diversity is a value that must permeate the entire process. If it doesn’t, we will, by our very natures, only evangelize, disciple, and multiply leaders who are naturally part of our own social group.
Without the value of diversity in us and in our community, we will miss one of the greatest of Kingdom truths – that God loves people who are men, women, and children, from every race and nation, and in every stage of life. Everyone one of them is made in His image!
The Kingdom of God is not an old boys’ or girls’ club. It is not just for young people, nor is it just for old people, male people, female people, people with our skin color, or people who speak our language.
The Kingdom of God is for everyone.
We need men and women, children and youth, people from many ethnic backgrounds, and people of many languages to share the Gospel, disciple, train leaders, and love people into wholeness in Christ!
That is how the Kingdom of God has advanced through history, and how the Church has grown for millennia. When Paul was told in a dream to go to Macedonia in Acts 16, he was being called by God to risk loving others who were not in his immediate, familiar environment.
According to the powerful stories in the book of Acts, diversity in our evangelism, discipleship, and leadership multiplication matters to God – and He calls us out of our comfort zones to become a part of another’s story.
Why Does Diversity Matter?
Does it matter if we are a diverse community? At times, the Church has seemed to think that it doesn’t matter. At these times, we have been lulled into thinking that it is probably fine if churches are just full of people who think, act, and look the same. Certainly churches might grow a bit faster this way – if they simply target the people they already know how to reach!
However, if we really want to grow Jesus’ Church then we know, deep down, this kind of attitude is simply not okay. We must remember that the Kingdom is more important than the Church, and that healthy churches are committed to the Kingdom advancing above their own agendas. Click To TweetAdvancing God’s Kingdom means we must enter the story of those with whom we would not normally associate.
Healthy Christians are courageous in this way, and look for diversity in those they evangelize, disciple, and train to be leaders. The Kingdom has always been a diverse reality. We see this in the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1. Matthew goes out of the way to show that Jesus had a multicultural background!Jesus didn’t just stick with “his” people – he evangelized Samaritans and Gentiles.
He didn’t just command his disciples to reach people who were already a part of their tribe – he called them to Jerusalem, but also to Judea, to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth!
At the birth of the Church, when the Spirit was poured out (Acts 2), God gave gifts to people enabling them to speak of His wonders in many different languages. In John’s vision of the fulfillment of the Kingdom in the heavenly throne room, there are multitudes from every tribe and nation. The greatest church planter in the early church, Paul, made it very clear that he wanted to plant multiethnic churches, even if others resisted him.
Beyond The Familiar
One fascinating narrative happens when the apostle Peter is called to reach one of the first gentile converts in Acts 10. Initially Peter resists – he is not comfortable sharing Christ with a Roman soldier. He was much more comfortable staying with his own kind of people.
But the Spirit showed him that the Roman soldier Cornelius was worthy of hearing about Jesus – about the Gospel of Kingdom – and was ready to receive salvation. So Peter obeyed, and the Church began to fulfill the mission of being a multiethnic expression of the Kingdom of God.
In the Vineyard, those who are already in the “in-crowd” can easily get their cultural needs met. It can feel so comfortable to us that we don’t even realize we may not be as good at helping people from other cultures or classes get their needs met. We need to let God change us so that we don’t always minister to others in a way that is always comfortable to us and our culture. Click To Tweet
Many Cultures & Ages Get To Play
In God’s Kingdom, no single culture gets to be on home base all the time! At times, we should all sing songs we don’t know yet, or hear preaching that is different from what we’re used to. We might find that our political or social assumptions get upset by others who are different from us. But this is all for the good – diversity helps us grow.
Much of the responsibility for growing in diversity lies with what is called the “dominant” culture. People of the dominant culture must learn to listen and learn to be welcoming – not just open. We must be willing to accept that some of our assumptions might be wrong, and that learning to operate cross culturally, while difficult, brings us all into a much richer experience of God’s Kingdom.
And there are so many cultures in God’s creation that once we have learned one, we can always find another – and do it again!