A Diverse Church / by John Hailes

One of the things I value most about my Church and our children’s ministry…is that it reaches a HUGELY diverse group of people! Our church is made up of congregants from at least 50 different countries! Our Church embraces people and their culture with a desire to cultivate a truly diverse Church.

I have learnt through my time in America that diversity is a quality often lacking in Churches. One of the reasons for this is that true diversity is never stumbled upon. We are comfortable in our shell and the confines of our own culture. Often it’s our own culture that is the barrier to our lack of diversity. We must be intentional to look at life beyond our own cultural default in order to cultivate a diverse church.

Here are some ways we encourage diversity…

1.    Celebrate Diversity

-       We push people away when we see everyone the same….because we end up seeing others as being like ourselves. Its important to recognize and celebrate our differences in culture. At Church we celebrate other cultures and pay respect to them. We decorate for Chinese New Year, we tell stories during black history month and we party for Cinco De Mayo…but NOT just as a church but also in our children’s ministry. We open our arms to others when we celebrate and recognize their culture.

2.    Model Diversity

-       People feel marginalized in places where they aren’t represented.  Our church aims to model diversity for our guests. We want our guests and congregants to know we value diversity; so we model it in everything we do. We are intentional about modeling diversity in our greeting team, in our preachers, worship team and even in the videos we use. There is great value in feeling at home and often that comes through feeling represented.

3.    Be Culturally Appropriate

-       It’s fairly easy to offend those different from us. As a Staff we often take time to read and learn about other cultures and how we should relate to them. We educate ourselves in African American, Asian or South American affairs in order to open our eyes to the way their cultures think and operate. In your sermon illustrations, your presentations, your language and even the way you dress you must make sure you are culturally appropriate in order to make other feel comfortable.

4.    Stay GLOBALLY aware

-       It’s easy to never look beyond your borders; but to be intentional we must strive to be informed. Our staff reads news from around the world (BBC), we pray for the victims of Ebola and the conflict in Ukraine…when many US pastors are oblivious to those conflicts which don’t effect the US. We do our best to travel abroad and experience cultures first hand.

I often joke that my Church has ruined me for life! After experiencing such a level of diversity I’m not sure I would be content in a Church community that lacked diversity and an outward perspective on the World. America is becoming more and more diverse as years progress…if the Church is wanting to grow then we need to learn to reach beyond the boundaries of our own culture!