In beginning to answer the question of “Should Every Local Congregation Be Intentional in Being as Diverse as the Community?” I would like to begin with stating what I believe to be the clear teaching of the scriptures and say yes! Moreover, it is in this position that I would like to elaborate as to why I see this as being the case using differing sources and ultimately pointing us back to the scriptures as our sole source of authority as Robertson McQuilkin aptly reminds us in his book “The Five Smooth Stones” when he asks “Is every new approach proposed or every tradition challenged, throughly evaluated by the entire group through rigorous examination of all biblical data, bringing all church doctrine and practice under the functional authority of scripture?” (The Five Smooth Stones pg. 4) Therefore, when we answer our question in light of the scriptural mandates and principles seen set forth from the Word of God we see clearly what the scriptures exhort of us.
The shear fact that John 3:16 declares with precision that God’s love extends into the spheres of the entire World and that Ephesians 5:25 shows us that Christ gave His life for the church is a stark and compelling parallel into the heart and mind of God to show that His desire for His local church would include those of differing ethnic backgrounds from all walks of life.
In his book “A Biblical Theology of Multi Ethnicity for the Church, Gods New Humanity” David E. Stevens writes “Pentecost was nothing less than a reversal of the experience of the Tower of Babel. If Babel depicts earth’s divided nations, Pentecost describes God’s “United Nations.”(A Biblical Theology of Multi Ethnicity for the Church, Gods New Humanity pg.254). In adding, this gives supporting indicators seen from the scriptures that every gathering of believers that would be deemed a local church that they should exemplifying with intentionality a clear focus of seeking to be a diverse group that transcends the lines of race along with social and economical statuses.
When we apply the principle seen in “The Five Smooth Stones” that deals with the “Test for Biblical Emphasis and Balance with Other Teaching”(The Five Smooth Stones) Pg.9) I believe that we are then able to trace a unifying theme that starts in the book of Genesis when the scriptures state in Genesis 3:20 “Now the man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all the living.” all the way to the last book of the Bible in Revelation 5:9-10 that reads “9 And they sang a new song, saying,“Worthy are You to take the book and to break its seals; for You were slain, and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.10“You have made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” It is thru passages such as these that that Gods thematic theme for the local church is to have one body of believers represented from countless different back grounds and walks of life become clearer.
I think so often what the case becomes is that we can allow even with myself included for our personal feelings and preferences to influence us toward how we want and desire things to be instead of applying what Robertson Mcquilkin talks about when he states “The Bible holds the basic problem to be of the heart and the victory promised is not just for bad actions but a bad heart-yes, for wrong feelings.” ( The Five Smooth Stones pg.24) Therefore, my application for is to allow God to deal with my heart in light of His clear scriptural teaching that in return affects my feelings which then influences my intentionality at seeking to be apart of helping create a diverse body of believers who live in community together and that does life together.
- How Can You Take a Step toward creating a more diverse setting in your local congregation?
- How can you live out the missional call to sharing Christ to those of different economical, social statuses and racial backgrounds to share in the love of Christ?
- If you are a church leader have you considered making any radical changes to see a piece of heaven on earth in the congregation you serve in such as hiring another staff position who is of a different race?