By Rev. Amy Butler of the Riverside Church in New York, New York. Rev. Butler writes for her blog, Talk With the Preacher.
For some time I’ve been of the conviction that cultivating diverse communities of faith is critical to living the gospel.
Some tell me creating a diverse community is just not a reality for their church; the community surrounding the church is too homogenous. I think that claim is flatly untrue. The bottom line is that creating diverse communities is an option for all of us, because each human is distinct and unique.
It’s a natural human instinct to gravitate toward people who seem most like us, but learning to value and cultivate diversity in our faith communities is worth the time and effort. That’s not to say creating a diverse community is easy.
In fact, to create a healthy culture of diversity within a congregation, the system must be trained to tolerate a higher level of discomfort as stasis. That is, members of diverse communities tolerate a little more discomfort than they would if they were members of a community where everyone shares a similar life situation, where everyone looks and thinks in generally the same way.
In its best expression healthy congregational diversity can work to create a culture in which people are constantly being invited to stretch and grow, to enlarge their view of the world, and to consistently expand their understanding of the kingdom of God. The realization that God’s love for the whole world extends beyond my own safe and limited view of the world is a transformative gift, a critical part of ongoing discipleship. And when diversity is valued and managed well, it’s indicative of a high level of trust in a congregation.
But like most things in life, there’s a downside to diversity [Read more on Rev. Butler’s blog here…]