Church Diversity by Scott Williams

Kent Shaffer —  May 4, 2011

Former campus pastor Scott Williams just released his first book, Church Diversity. It is a passionate discussion about the need for cultural and racial diversity in churches. Early on, Scott cuts to the heart of the issue:

The burden for this generation is to look in the mirror, recognize that there is a problem, and understand that by doing nothing about it, WE ARE the problem.

So what do we do about church diversity? Scott explains 7 steps he took to nurture church diversity.

  1. Check your heart.
    What prejudices or preconceptions may be getting in the way of my heart embracing a culture of diversity? Where is the heart of my leadership on the diversity issue? Have we led our volunteers and attendees to have hearts that embrace diversity? Is diversity a value that we genuinely want to embrace or is this simply lip service?
  2. Check your head.
    We had to plan events differently, we had to look at our hiring practices differently, and we had to be intentional about issues of race and ethnicity. We celebrated diversity wins, and although diversity may not have been at the forefront of the value system of the overall church, it was definitely at the forefront of our team’s value system.
  3. Be prayerful.
    Ask God to give you a burden for diversity in the church. Don’t confuse a burden for diversity with a change in the specific vision that
    God has given your church. Pray for diversity in people who will come through the doors of your church. Pray for diversity in both volunteer and paid staff.
  4. Be intentional.
    The bottom line is if you are not intentional, it’s not going to happen. The reason you have to be intentional is that, left on our own, human beings often have difficulty making the right decisions. Being intentional about diversity is not about convenience, it’s about being deliberate.
  5. Be confrontational.
    If we are all brothers and sisters in Christ, we have to be willing to have the tough conversations with each other. Just like Jim Collins discusses in Good to Great, you have to confront the brutal facts. You have to confront the elephant in the pew, in our communities, in our ministries, and in our hearts. You have to fight for what’s right. Pick and choose your battles.
  6. Be authentic.
    Authenticity is so important. Too often we go through life and try to imitate other people. On an issue as sensitive as diversity, it would be easy to try to imitate a ministry that does a great job with the church diversity issue. Find your own voice/identity instead of being an imitation.
  7. Be patient.
    This is going to take some time. It’s taken thousands of years for the Church to be one of the most segregated institutions on the planet and change is not going to happen overnight. Get your heart right, exercise your mental muscle, be prayerful, be intentional, be confrontational, be authentic, and be patient. God’s timing is perfect.

I am excited that Church Diversity is giving momentum to this issue. It is not just about achieving ethnic diversity. Churches need to strive for better cultural diversity.

This post features a complimentary review copy and Amazon affiliate links.

Kent Shaffer

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I live in an RV with my wife and 2 kids and work with to help Christians collaborate and build a global Church library of free, open content.

2 responses to Church Diversity by Scott Williams

  1. For Tim Bonney, pastor of First Baptist Church of Greater Des Moines,Iowa, the denomination’s diversity can be cumbersome, but rewarding. I don’t think American Baptists have generally felt like there has to be a majority group in the denomination, he said, It doesn’t mean that we have to agree on all these other finer points of theology and issues of politics, said Bonney. My congregation
    also is politically diverse, theologically diverse; we like that. It’s both our greatest strength and greatest weakness," the pastor said. It certainly would be easier if we all agreed with each other, but I’ve always found that kind of diversity to be very

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