The face of America is changing and the changing demographics in the U.S. will impact its churches in profound ways. Diversity is about honoring the differences each of us brings to the table. By addressing diversity issues and personal biases, church leaders will improve their relationships with church members, enhancing their success.
The plan of God in the Great Commission is that all nations be reached with the gospel. This was seen in the first days at Pentecost and will be true in our future days in heaven, where every tongue, tribe, people and nation will worship together.
Converge needs to know if its organization is prepared to meet these challenges. It needs to know if its culture supports diversity and inclusion and what cultural competencies are needed. Churches must compete for members just like other organizations. Churches with robust initiatives for managing diversity will be more effective at attracting, developing, serving and retaining a diverse membership. To that end, a diversity assessment is needed.
Our goal is to receive at least 60% survey responses from each district. The status bars indicate the percentage of churches in the district that have completed the survey.
Diversity Church - Vision 2016
One of the greatest struggles with fulfilling the Great Commission is that many people are not culturally aware. They see something different from what they are used to and, instead of attempting to increase their knowledge, they run away from it or mock it. It could be that they are scared of the unfamiliar and afraid to take the important step that God wants them to. The Great Commission, found in Matthew 28:19, states, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”
As defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, commission means “an authorization or command to act in a prescribed manner or to perform prescribed acts.” God is not asking us to go and teach all nations; he is commanding us to do so. As Christians, it should be not only our goal but also our desire to follow God's commands. But how do we do so? There are a multitude of great diversity resources available for churches to use to help them become more culturally aware so that they can minister effectively to those that come from a different background than they do.
Talking Together as Christians, is designed to help ministries talk cross-culturally as a church. It also includes valuable information on how to effectively converse with people of different races and cultures, such as American Indians, Laotians, The Hmong, African Americans, European Americans and many more. The website has great resources that you may find extremely informative, including a strategic plan on each racial group. This resource should help you to effectively minister to and communicate with people of all nations.
Reconciliation Blues: A Black Evangelical’s Inside View of White Christianity, by Edward Gilbreath
Edward Gilbreath is an author, editor and speaker. He worked for the magazine Christianity Today and is the founding editor of urbanfaith.com, an online magazine about religion and culture. His book discusses the history and current state of racial reconciliation in evangelical churches. He records progress that has been made and discusses setbacks that have occurred. His words offer encouragement for black evangelicals feeling alone, clarity for white evangelicals who want to understand more deeply and fresh vision for all who want to move forward toward Christ’s prayer “that all of them may be one.” Learn more.
Building a diverse and inclusive church will not happen overnight. However, there are several steps that can be taken today, and every day, to move towards this important goal. A blog post on Bible Insider, “3 Steps to Bring Diversity into Your Group,” outlines how a church can “be intentional,” “invite other expressions of praise” and “anticipate spiritual growth” to help create a more inviting environment for diverse groups. There are many more ways to help involve a more diverse community in church, but this post provides great, specific examples. No matter what stage of increasing diversity your church is at, the recommendations found in this resource can help by either serving as a start to your journey or a check-in for your efforts. Read post.
The microaggressions table will help you to avoid language that causes individuals harm―even though you never intended to do so. It discusses themes such as color blindness, the myth of meritocracy, denial of individual prejudice and more. It provides great examples of how these themes cause microaggression through the language we use and the implicit bias messages that are conveyed. Download microaggression table.
DBE interviews prominent scholars and religious leaders from around the country and will be featuring these interviews to help Converge’s readers stay current on the most pressing diversity issues impacting the church.
This week Dr. Dwight Perry is interviewed. Rev. Dr. Dwight Perry is the Regional President and Executive Minister of Converge Great Lakes and is known and appreciated for his straight-talk approach to ministry. Prior to coming to the Converge Great Lakes, Dr. Perry served as a full time professor of pastoral studies at the Moody Bible Institute, a denominational executive with the Baptist General Conference and as a senior pastor and associate pastor in three different local churches in Illinois. He has published extensively in the area of practical theology. Dr. Perry speaks and consults on a number of topics across the country, including the area of racial and cultural diversity. He and his wife Dr. Cynthia Perry, a tenured professor in the College of Education at Edgewood College in Madison, Wisconsin, have four adult children and four grandchildren. They live in Madison, Wisconsin. Download interview.
This prayer was written for Converge by Dr. Charles Taylor (Diversity Assessment Consultant), seeking God’s guidance for the Diversity Assessment that his team is facilitating. He asks that each district pray this prayer to guide its assessment efforts. Download prayer.
Over the past year, Converge’s district and national leadership worked together on a diversity assessment of our movement. As in everything we do, our objective in seeking diversity is to help more people meet, know and follow Jesus. We acknowledge our communities, country and world are changing. Converge needs to make adjustments to more effectively bridge spiritual, social, ethnic and cultural divides so prevalent in our society.
We see the tensions in the news, in the streets, in our relationships and even in our hearts. And we are as convinced as ever the answer to our society’s issues is found in the gospel and in personal transformation found in Jesus Christ. The opportunity for the church to shine as a beacon of hope has never been greater in our country, nor has the opportunity been greater to impact people from every tongue, tribe, people and nation.
We've published a summary of key findings and recommendations of the national Converge Diversity Study. Please take a few minutes to read the report. We invite you to join us on this journey—as we start and strengthen churches together worldwide.
In early March, 2016, the Converge Southeast district became the first to complete the assessment. Dr. Joey Mimbs, interim executive minister of Converge Southeast, said the following about the assessment:
“I would like to thank Dr. Holland and Dr. Taylor for the excellent job they did Monday and Tuesday with the Diversity Assessment process. I have heard positive comments from the men who participated. I was very impressed with both men and the process. I am excited to see what we will learn as a district. I believe God will direct us in a path that will help us further the kingdom of God in a way that pleases him. President Ridout, thank you for making this Diversity Assessment a reality for Converge. I only have positive comments for any other district executive minister.”
In addition to interviewing the Southeast district’s interim executive minister and leading pastors, focus groups were also held with the district’s overseers board and staff. Pastors in each district are asked to complete an online survey that captures their attitudes about diversity and inclusion. To date about a third of Southeast district pastors have completed the national diversity survey. The goal is to get a minimum of 50% of pastors in every district to finish the survey. This data will give Converge the information it needs to answer the question: “Where do we stand as a faith-based organization when it comes to modeling diversity and inclusion?” The assessment will enable Converge to answer that question in a thoughtful and intentional manner, resulting in a roadmap on how to proceed as an organization.
We will post the status of each district’s completion rate as it is tabulated. Please encourage all of your pastors to complete the survey―it only takes about 15 minutes and no pastor will be identified. There are no right or wrong answers. All we ask is that you be completely candid and speak from your heart.
Did you know? The Southeast district is perhaps Converge’s most diverse, with 60% of its churches non-Anglo.
Grace Church is located in Tracy, California, part of the PacWest district. Tracy has a large and growing Spanish-speaking community that has been receptive to hearing the gospel. Grace Church wanted to find a way to reach the Spanish-speaking community, so they added Luis Floriano to the staff to assist in this endeavor. Luis and his wife Lillia planted a Spanish-speaking congregation (Iglesia Gracia) in Tracy. Now the two congregations work together to effectively minister to the city of Tracy. Read more.
Email your diversity news to: firstname.lastname@example.org
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If you have questions or need additional information about the diversity assessment please contact our national director of Diversity: Robin.Holland@converge.org
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