Last summer, I went to a classical education conference in Moscow, Idaho.
Now, many are unfamiliar with the city of Moscow, Idaho, but, for the purpose of this story, you should know that it probably has less black people in it than the natives of Moscow, Russia. And not only was I the only black person at the conference, but I was also the only black person that I saw in this city until about my third day there. When we passed each other on the street, he gaped at me like I had three heads and slowly waved his hand at me as if I might be a ghost.
If a church planter were to plant in the part of the city where I most-frequented while there, it would be ridiculous to expect him to have a congregation more diverse than the surrounding area. Our church in the suburbs accurately reflects the diversity of the people who live nearby; a church in a different part of the ethnically diverse city of Houston might have different expectations.
Diversity is not about filling politically correct quotas. In the words of Trillia:
“May I submit to you that our pursuit of diversity isn’t really about diversity, after all? It’s about love. To celebrate diversity in your home, you must first cultivate a love or people –a radical, wholehearted, grace-motivated love for others.”
This love starts in our homes and churches when we reach out to the surrounding community in an effort to show that God’s redemptive plan extends beyond the borders of our ethnic comfort zones. It’s not a checklist, but a mentality.
When we approach friendships this way, we’re more focused on how we can demonstrate Christ’s love through the ordinary means of grace than luring people for the sake of patting ourselves on the back.
So what does this look like?
These questions, from Trillia’s discussion guide for United, get the ball rolling on this important conversation.
1. What do you think of when you hear the term “diversity”?
2. How might we tangibly benefit from relating with those unlike us?
3. Do you find it difficult to invite others into your life (to lunch, church, etc.)? What are ways you can also pursue diversity within your church beyond ethnicity?
4. How might a love for others motivate the pursuit of those unlike yourself in friendship?
5. How does the sin of partiality affect the pursuit of diversity?