Martin Luther King, Jr. once said that 11 o’clock on Sunday morning is the most segregated hour in America. A recent survey by LifeWay Research shows that 50 years later, not much has changed. But it must. As the pastor of a 7,500-member church that represents 40 nationalities, I offer up five reasons churches need diversity — and how we can get there.
1. Diversity is biblically mandated.
The Great Commission charges us to “go and make disciples of all nations” (Matthew 28:19). The church instructs and equips converts so that over time their devotion to Christ is evident in their worldview, lifestyle, and values. However, this view of disciple-making is only one dimension of Jesus’ command. The other part of our charge is found in the word nation, derived from the Greek word ethnos from which we get ethnic.
We are to reach across ethnicities and make disciples. We are not simply ambassadors to people within our own cultures. We are cross-cultural ambassadors. In today’s America, the world is at our doorsteps. The Great Commission asks that we do more than share Jesus on mission trips across the ocean. It directs us to connect cross-culturally with those who live across the street.
2. A monoracial church is a compromised church.
We must draw wisdom from the entire body if we are to strengthen the church. A diverse congregation benefits from the insights, gifts, and perspectives each racial group offers. These local churches model what some scholars call the ethnic roundtable. …read more