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Diversity is beautiful…but it is also difficult.
I’ve been pretty publicly silent about the tragic deaths of African Americans and police officers over the last couple of weeks. I’ve been trying to process it with friends and in prayer, rather than write about it here or elsewhere. Dozens of helpful voices have spoken up, though, including Trillia Newbell, Russell Moore, Jemar Tisby, and others.
I encourage you to read and learn as much as you can regarding race and the church. But I also encourage you to stop and pray, too. When tragedy happens, I naturally turn inward, emotionally and spiritually, but it may not be as natural for you. Do it anyway, and speak up if you feel the need. The Lord hears your prayers.
A couple of weeks ago, the Brookings Institution, a think tank based out of Washington, D.C., shared some notable statistics on race and the United States worth sharing.
William Frey writes at the outset of their article, “Racial diversity will be the most defining and impactful characteristic of the millennial generation. Newly released 2015 Census data points to millennials’ role in transitioning America to the ‘majority minority’ nation it is becoming.”
I have often said both on the blog and in conversation that the only generalization that you can make about the Millennial generation is that they’re too diverse to generalize. This data supports that point.
Here are a few of the most notable data points:
Because Brookings is running off of Census data for this study, they’re also able to get some good stats on minors. Here’s a graph that effectively depicts how our country is becoming less white:
Millennials, as diverse as they are, are even less diverse than their kids/younger siblings that follow them.
If you consider diversity a “problem,” you need to know it’s going to get worse and never get better. If you consider diversity a blessing, which you should, you should rejoice in the increased diversity on the way!
Regardless, especially for pastors and church leaders, diversity can lead to conflict. When cultures collide, they merge, and this is not often without difficulty.
Pastors and church leaders, I would encourage you to seek out minority voices in your churches and your communities. Give them seats at the leadership table of your church if you haven’t already, and give them a significant voice in the conversation.
Your church will look like the people you have on stage.
Further, Christians, we need to be more careful about what we post on social media. A Facebook status that gets you back-slaps from your friends may lose you the ears of your unreached neighbor. Do all things in love, including social media.
Finally, pursue humility. When cultures collide and compromises have to be made, humility goes a long way. Diversifying your church may require some changes in worship style or service times that may be uncomfortable for the majority culture in your church. That’s a reality with which you’ll have to wrestle, but this discomfort must not keep you from pursuing diversity.
Diversity is awkward. Deal with it. Refusing to love because of awkwardness is a bigger sin than feeling awkward.
Our country has been shaken by tremorous events recently, revealing fault lines of thought and culture. If the United States neglects the richness of our diversity for the sake of comfort, it will atrophy and die.
The local church must be on the forefront of racial reconciliation and gospel love. Pastors and church leaders, pray and ask the Lord how your congregation might serve your community toward this end.