Creating a Diverse Community
Part Three: Our Relationships
by Eric Bryant
In order to connect with others different than ourselves, we have to sacrifice our relationships. We need to sacrifice our time, energy, and relationships in order to become friends with others from a different background than our own. For those of us who grew up in the 60s, 70s, or 80s, this may take more effort than for those who have grown up in the 90s or in this decade. This may seem like such an oversimplified statement, but in order to create a diverse community, we need to become friends with people from other backgrounds.
Cause creates community. Often we find ourselves connecting with others we would have never even met had we not played in the same band, performed in the same play, or played on the same football team. When we pursue the same cause, our shared experiences, and shared goals bring us together.
Christ’s cause creates supernatural community. I doubt that Peter the fisherman and Matthew the tax collector would have ever been friends outside of their common cause to become “fishers of men.” By joining Christ’s small group, a motley crew of men became friends. They had nicknames for each other: “The Rock” and “Sons of Thunder.” They traveled together for several years experiencing the miraculous. In the end, they were imprisoned and willingly died for their Leader. Jesus led the greatest small group in history because he was more than a Bible study leader or prayer group facilitator. Jesus was a revolutionary. His small group gathered together to feed the 5,000. His small group went on field trips to exorcise demons and perform miracles. After His death and resurrection, Jesus’ small group changed the world. Jesus’ eternal cause creates diverse community.
Dr. Gerardo Marti, a professor of Sociology at Davidson University recently published A Mosaic of Believers: Diversity and Innovation in a Multiethnic Church. When asked how to create a diverse community, he said, “Mosaic did not become diverse by emphasizing diversity, but by providing multiple points of commonality such as passions, artistry, and mission. These points of commonality become arenas for multiethnic companionship, cooperation, and camaraderie.”
Sacrificing our relationships leads to diversity. The people we befriend will be the people we reach. We are not targeting people because of their heritage. We are trying to serve and share with our friends named Javier, Sandeep, Masayoshi, and Molene. We develop friendships by getting to know the person for who they are rather than believing in stereotypes. Furthermore, we need to work through the conflicts and challenges of our friendships in order to receive permission to connect others to Christ and his mission.