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3 Questions to Ask When Building A Racially Diverse Church

When I am asked by other pastors or leaders, “How can we get more diversity in our church?”  My answer is in the form of questions.  These are questions you need to honestly ask yourself.

1. Who are your friends?

Who do you hang out with?  Who do you enjoy being with?  When you invite people over to your house – do they all look like you?  Are you comfortable with people with different skin color or culture?

If the pastor does not build friendships with people of other races – I doubt that diversity will be a significant part of their church.

I often challenge people to ask, not “Am I prejudice?” but “How prejudice am I?”  If we are honest, I think we all have some preconceived ideas of others.

2.  Who is on your church team?

Do you have a diverse mix of people on your leadership team?  I don’t suggest you just go out and pick random people to be part of your leadership because of the color of their skin.

Although, you may need to begin to bring good solid leaders who are diverse races on your leadership team to help build the value of diversity in your church congregation. This should really be a natural extension of your relationships.

Being a white pastor, I remember the surprise and disappointment that I felt when I first heard that one of my African American friends and church members took a lot of heat from their family and friends for going to our church.  They would often be asked,  “Why would you go to a church where the pastor is white?”  The pressure was on them to only support a leader that was their color.

3.  Who do you value?

Who are your heroes?  I quote men and women of all races in my sermons.  I tell stories in my messages using all races of people who are examples of faith or integrity.  I hold them up as examples that should be followed.

Some of my favorite leaders, musical artists or actors are of diverse racial backgrounds and I admire them.  It’s just a natural expression for me.

We mention often how we value the racial diversity that we see in our congregation.  We thank God for it.  We consider our diversity a special blessing.
We pray for God’s blessing in this area.

Even if you have a small percentage of diversity in your church, it would be great to pray and publically thank God for the percentage you do have and for more growth in that area.

You may want to talk about how important it is that your church be an example in the community – especially in the area of diversity and pray from the platform for God’s guidance and grace in this area.

I have often taught on the value of racial diversity once or twice a year or insert thoughts on the issue in various messages on love, forgivess or unity.  We regularly make the weekend in January in which we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., who championed racial equality, a day to celebrate our churches racial diversity.

As a congregation, we pray for racial harmony in our city and in our world. 

These are not ‘techniques’ for developing racial diversity, they are just actions that we take because of what is in our heart.  They are things that we do that others may not.  A leader said to me once, “You don’t get to reach who you want, you reach who you are.”

We can lead our congregations and communities into racial harmony if our goal is to bring a little bit of heaven to earth.  We can have unity in diversity for the cause of Christ.

Hopefully the questions and thoughts above will help churches and leaders continue to move in the direction of genuine diversity. 

Ask yourself the hard questions. 
Give sober answers.
Respond and change your world.

I really believe that as our churches embrace diversity, the church can bring healing and wholeness to many of the deep rooted pains people experience as a result of racial segregation.  The church can and should be leading the way for racial harmony in our world.