THE 7 STEPS TO IMPLEMENTING LASTING DIVERSITY EFFORTS AT YOUR CHURCH
If we expect the workplace to encourage and embrace diversity, let’s talk about why this is also important in the church. These comments are just my personal thoughts, and do not represent NASA or Vanderbloemen. I prayed about this for over a week, and the ideas below are based on Biblical principles, my leadership training, and from my life experiences. I am not an expert in this area, so please take them in the spirit they were intended; to stimulate thought, conversation, and change.
Before you can create the change you have to have a goal and a purpose. I would recommend a small group of church leaders get together and create a goal, write a mission statement, set objectives. If you cannot put your goal into words, you will fail.
Create a “Diversity” title and position. This most likely will not be this person’s only responsibility, but an additional responsibility. An example might be if you have someone with the title “Discipleship” minister, their title is changed to “Discipleship and Diversity, and Belonging”
Once you set your goal, objectives, and schedule, make sure it is reviewed on a regular basis.
The main reason that change, more often than not, fails, is it is not set as a priority. There is no accountability or regular review of the schedule.
It is okay to not meet your objectives and schedule; the important thing is to review, understand why, and reset. This is a journey, not a sprint. If it is worth doing, don’t quit.
Put people of minorities on your staff, in places of leadership, and involve them in decision making. Also, make their position visible.
Put a plan in place to change the culture in your church. This does not mean radically change your culture but add to it, modify it, make it more inclusive. Examples are:
Integrate a song or two into your praise and worship that is gospel-based or in Spanish. It is not uncommon for a church to have both a traditional and contemporary service; just expand on that concept.
Set up a live translation of the message into Spanish or other languages, depending on your church demographic. The translation can be set up to only be heard by those who are tuned to a specific channel and using Bluetooth. Speakers are simultaneously translated. (NASA uses this method for meetings with some of our international partners.) Think about once a month reversing the translation.
Open up your church to be used by minority congregations. At my church, Gateway Community Church (in Clear Lake), we have a Spanish speaking service on Sunday afternoon. The purpose is to help smaller churches that have outgrown their facility and open up the House of the Lord to all. Going a step further, you could have the Sunday morning 9:30 service with praise and worship to meet the needs of one culture, and the 11:00 service tailored to meet the needs of another culture.
Arrange to have someone from the congregation teach Spanish at the church, and someone to teach English at the church. After the lesson, if possible, have both classes meet together for fellowship.
The above suggestions are just some thoughts on bringing all people together to worship Jesus as one.
I have memorized a few items over the years that spoke to me. I can recite: The Sermon on the Mount (Mathew Chapters 5 – 7), The Love Chapter (1 Corinthians Ch. 13), William Wallace’s speech before going into battle (from the movie, Brave Heart), and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a Dream” speech. I would recite the Dream speech to my small group on MLK’s birthday.
My favorite 3 lines from the Dream speech are:
“I have a dream, one day, my 4 small children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but the content of their character.” And….
“With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.” And….
“And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old African-American spiritual, “Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
I remember the “What Would Jesus Do” (WWJD) wrist bands from many years ago. I really like the new wrist bands that have, “He Would Love First” (HWLF). In these pandemic and social unrest times, loving others as we wish to be loved should be our first reaction. We all need to give more, serve more, live more, and love more.
And like Apollo flight director Gene Kranz said, “ Failure is not an option.”