When we, as leaders, are engaging with what God wants our communities to look like, one of the facets we must give energy to is multicultural ministry. Diversity is a key part of the Body of Christ and, when stewarded correctly, adds strength and flavor to our communities. To some, the task of incorporating new types of people and creating spaces for them can seem daunting. However, unless you live in a cultural vacuum, it’s very likely that God has already placed diversity in your midst. One of the key ways to incorporate multicultural ministry into your church is by recognizing what God is already doing in this realm, and to allow Him to stir up new connections between these cultural contexts.
Before looking outside of the church for diversity, it is important that we look inside of our own church communities. This is important for two reasons: it provides us with a litmus test to see how well we recognize and adapt to diversity as a church family, and as leaders it helps us gauge how healthily the diversity is being stewarded.
It can be appealing for us to skip over looking internally and jump right into looking outside ourselves, but let me encourage you to truly take the time to engage with the diversity you already have. If we neglect to engage with the already existing diversity, we don’t take the time or expend the energy needed to see how we are doing in this realm. If we cannot steward the already existing diversity well, then adding more to that will do no good! In the same way, we want to honor the diversity outside of ourselves by treating it the way God intended us to: with integrity and good stewardship.
Honoring the diversity within keeps us grounded in the reality that we are doing all things for our King Jesus, and we are doing them because we have been led by the Spirit and instructed by the Word!
We must ensure that we never make diversity an idol, that we never make it something we are seeking out of our own volition in order to make our communities what we want them to be. Working with existing diversity first helps ensure that our hearts are in the right place as we move into this type of ministry, and that we are better equipped to engage with higher levels of diversity as the church moves forward.
Earlier I spoke of a litmus test in regards to stewarding diversity, so I’ll touch on that here. The following are a few criteria to help gauge how your church is interacting with the diversity already present.
- Is everyone, for the most part, joined together in a unified body instead of being broken up into multiple ‘camps?’
- If racial/ethnic/socio-economic diversity is present, is there any tension among the congregation?
- Are the programs of the church beneficial to every major group in attendance? (not including standalone outliers)
- When decisions are being made for the body, is the entire demographical make-up of the church in mind?
- Are there a statistically proportionate amount of people engaging with God in each ‘culture’ present? (Conversions, baptisms, ministry opportunities, demonstrated fruit of the Spirit, etc.)
Keep the aforementioned questions in mind when looking at the already existing diversity of your church. If you can answer ‘yes’ to most of these questions, then you are likely doing a great job stewarding that which the Lord has blessed you with. After this initial health has been established, more diversity can be added to the body, and the Lord can begin new works in this realm!