Joe Leach – 15th November 2022
We had a truly glorious time together as a church on Sunday evening as we talked about, celebrated, demonstrated, emphasised, and leant into our racial diversity.
The evening had two main goals: to celebrate our diversity; and to equip all of us to push into even greater diversity within the church whilst maintaining our strong and vital unity in Christ. The two main highlights of the evening for me were taking communion together as a physical, Christ-centred mark of our unity in the gospel; and hearing prayers from people in several languages including Portuguese, Spanish, Greek, German, Afrikaans and Yoruba!
I talked about what it means for us as a people together in our part of the world and mentioned five things that we as a church will be ‘leaning into’ as we move forward, and what that means for individuals across the church.
1. Diversity without disunity
This is the foundational issue. Ensuring that we have no barriers or dividing walls based on race or ethnicity is not a secondary ‘nice-to-have’ but is fundamental to the gospel. One of the many beauties of the gospel is that it is available to people of every race and background and it unites us together as one people.
2. Welcome without favouritism
Throughout Scripture, we see a God who unashamedly seeks out the poor, people on the edge and in the minority. And this God calls his people to do the same. We should all be going out of our way to welcome guests and new people to church on a Sunday. And we should especially be doing that for those in the minority which is basically anyone who is not white, middle-class or has additional needs. That’s not to say we go too far and show favouritism (or discrimination) to any people group.
3. Hospitality without convenience
This just takes the second one a bit further. Gospel love and hospitality is costly and inconvenient. We want to be showing real hospitality to non-white-British people who we come into contact with, even (or especially) if that is a little bit less comfortable for us.
4. Representation without tokenism
At Grace Church, we don’t just want diverse races coming on Sunday but we want them represented across all we do. That includes having racial diversity on all our teams (kids, youth, worship, welcome etc.) as well as in leadership decisions and those on the ‘platform’. But we won’t be having any tokenism and our other values still matter that all our leaders are people of character and competence.
5. Integration without assimilation
The goal in all of this is not that ‘they’ become like ‘us’ by assimilating into our cultural values. If we are to have true diversity without disunity then it will require all of us to be open to change and some things going on which we know are not primarily appealing to us.
The future for the people of God is perfect unity across people of every tribe, nation, people and language all united in their worship of the Lamb of God (Revelation 7v9). What a glorious future and what a thing to be celebrating and leaning into, in the present.