Dissolve Division With Diversity
Why Stained Glass? Other than a steeple adorned with a cross, there is no other clearer indicator of a “church” than stained glass windows. Ironically, stained glass serves as an incredible metaphor of identification not only in distinguishing architecture and the accompanying internal composition of pews and pulpit, but to identify Christ’s true church whose composition consists of people and purpose. The stained glass window is a collective of broken colored pieces which creates a beautiful, transparent picture that comes alive as light shines through it. As with the window, the local church should be a collective of diverse hues (ethnicities), living in transparency, and loving in authentic community that comes alive as Christ’s light shines through us all. However, this same diversity of hue is not seen in most local church congregations.
Putting The Pieces Together
If a church is planted in an ethnically diverse community, the influence and impact of that church on its surrounding community should be reflected in the diversity of its congregation. Although 'diversity' has become a trendy ministry term, it primarily holds an unspoken meaning of having minorities assimilate to a euro-centric ministry culture. True 'diversity' must be reflected in the multiple ethnicities and resulting multi-dimentional culture of a local congregation that has chosen the hard work of racial reconciliation and genuine community engagement.
I propose that racial/ ethnic diversity is intimately connected to generational diversity within a local congregation. Within the context of the U.S., segregation was both a social norm and legal standard, especially within the south. Unfortunately, the church has largely maintained its racial polarity following the reconstruction period of the Civil War up until modern times. I propose this is due to cultural expectations and societal norms as related to the distinct generations. In other words, the older the generation, the more segregated their world was.
The Millennial generation lives within a world that is more integrated and appreciative of diversity than any previous generation. However, churches at large are rarely racially/ ethnically diverse. Why is it that we are so far removed from legal segregation, and seemingly, by choice through attention or apathy, have maintained these divisions within God’s House? I propose that the local church will become more racially/ ethnically blended not solely through sermonic inspiration, but rather through social interaction and strategic integration.