Diversity in the Church

This week I had the opportunity to interact with some church leaders on the question of diversity in the church among other things. I attempted to share my heart and desire to see the local church reflect well the reality of Christ’s bride – a church greatly diverse in language and ethnicity. It is the reality of the church described in the New Testament and it is sad that we have historically allowed affinities other than Christ form the core of our churches.

Today John Piper tweeted a link to a 2007 article explaining why his church sought diversity, especially among staff and elders. Given the current public climate concerning race, it is a timely reminder for Christians of our citizenship in the kingdom of God. You can read the whole article here but below are some choice sections.

“It is right to admire this diversity for many reasons:

  1. It illustrates more clearly the truth that God created people of all races and ethnicities in his on image (Genesis 1:27).
  2. It displays more visibly the truth that Jesus is not a tribal deity but is the Lord of all races, nations, and ethnicities.
  3. It demonstrates more clearly the blood-bought destiny of the church to be “from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Revelation 5:9).
  4. It exhibits more compellingly the aim and power of the cross of Christ to “reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility” (Ephesians 2:16).
  5. It expresses more forcefully the work of the Spirit to unite us in Christ. “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13).”

“it seems to us that the admiration we feel for this diversity in the New Testament should carry over into the desires we have for the visible church today. It seems to us that the local church should want these things to be true today at the local level where this diversity and harmony would have the greatest visible and relational impact. For us, this has implied pursuit. If we admire it and desire it, then it seems to us we should pursue it.”

I know this is easier said than done, creating a diverse church, but we should be about it. For Christians, honestly, it should come naturally…

To Follow Piper

The evangelical inter-webs are buzzing at the nomination of John Piper’s potential successor, Jason Meyer. Meyer’s resume and reputation are at the very least humbling at it sounds like Bethlehem Baptist will be getting a phenomenal leader and servant with fresh vision.

One item from Justin Taylor’s announcement of the news struck me however. It was in reference to Piper’s role in all this. Taylor says of Piper and the decision to find a successor, “he still has joyful energy to preach but feels increasingly incompetent and less focused for fruitful and effective visionary leadership of Bethlehem’s organization and structure; they will remain at the church (after a year away)…”

Piper is passionate about preaching and will do it until he dies, but he feels “increasingly incompetent and less focused for fruitful and effective visionary leadership…” I pray that I can become a leader like this, capable of recognizing my time of leadership has shifted. There are not many aging pastors with the same realization as Piper but certainly the same situation. I am thankful for his example and wisdom.

I think it is also significant that the Pipers will take one year away – seemingly to allow Meyer to pastor without a constant shadow which will be difficult in that situation. This is a good model for the church in general.

Worth Reading

This week’s piece worth reading is actually one you can watch. John Piper outlines some caution for young reformed Christians. Justin Taylor had the clip on his blog and Desiring God put it out this week.

The best nugget from the video is when Piper quotes Rick Warren on his doctrine of the bible. Warren says “The bible is inerrant and authoritative but my interpretation is not always inerrant and authoritative.” I need this level of humility and know some of my friends do as well…