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…

We are not in Chocolate City anymore…

Fascinating (or rather depressing) numbers coming out of the 2010 census. It turns out Portland is the “whitest” large city in the U.S. and when you move here you can feel it.

According to the Seattle Times article 72% of Portland’s population is white. Just last week I had a Portlander in my office surprised and seemingly offended when I suggested that Portland was not diverse at all. It turns out the numbers agree with me.

Moving here from Washington, D.C. we had correct expectations that diversity in the Northwest was more psychological rather than actual but now the numbers have me thinking of how we can raise our daughter to recognize and appreciate diversity. And from a church perspective, how do we build a Biblical community where all are welcome and Christ is glorified in our diversity…

This is the challenge of the Northwest I suppose.