I have heard much about the “need for diversity in church.”
I am not sure where the Bible supports the concept of making diversity THE key of church health. Yet I am constantly told that the strength of a group of people is in our diversity. We need other contrary opinions to help us grow.
To an extent I get it. I am certainly not anti-diversity. I do think that making diversity the End All, the Main Point of a church, is a recipe for disaster.
What I see in the Bible is that all diversity is eliminated in Christ–neither male nor female, Jew or Gentile, bond or free, nor racial distinctions exist in the unity of Christ. That being the case, the Church is ultimately concerned with Christ, not how many men or women or Jews or Gentiles, etc. the church has in it.
The idea that we need divergent opinions in order to grow has truth in it. If you don’t know something and you meet someone who does, you will hear a different opinion. Learning only happens by having your opinion confronted with truth.
But, truth is the key. Just having a Devil’s Advocate spew contrariness will not lead to learning, unity, nor growth. In fact, it may destroy a group. Certainly we need well-informed opinions, many of which can take opposing sides in a doctrinal discussion, but to have divergence for the sake of divergence accomplishes nothing.
I’ve met people who have taken it upon themselves to always be different. To poke people in the eye because it’s good for all those other people to be confronted with a differing opinion.
Paul said when he was with those under the law, he became as one under the law. When he was with those not under the law, he was as one not under law. Paul did not say, “When I’m with those under the law, I think it’s best to give them a divergent opinion of things from one not under the law.”
Grace makes you aware of where other people are coming from and helps you adjust so as not to cause anyone to stumble. Arrogance wants to be different to get attention.
Although it may be hard to believe, sometimes divergent people should just shut up.
No really, they should.
For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision: Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake.
There are certain divergent opinions that should not be given equal time, no matter how politically incorrect that sounds to our sensitive ears.
Furthermore, people who need to poke others in the eye with their leading questions should also be quiet. “But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.”
Diversity can be an outcome of the Gospel rightly received, but it should not be the goal. The Gospel is, and always should be, the goal. Diversity will take care of itself.
Furthermore, we also must make sure we know what diversity is. Some make diversity all about skin color, making some sort of Gospely race quotas the test of “true Christianity.”
Others think diversity has more to do with backgrounds of people either economically (rich, poor, middle class); religiously (ex-Catholics, ex-Lutherans, ex-cult members, etc); or age (babies, kids, teens, college age, elderly, etc.).
In the end, none of this really matters, nor should any of these things be used as criteria for attracting people to a church. In Christ, all these distinctions are eliminated. They are not the essential point. We love our neighbor, regardless of whether they are diverse enough to get our love.
Diversity is fine and makes for interesting potlucks, but it’s not the most crucial thing for a church to have. The most crucial thing for a church to have is the Holy Spirit, the Gospel, the fellowship of our common faith, and a common goal of looking to Christ.
The Church doesn’t need your holier than thou divergence. We really don’t. Make a Facebook page about it and revel in your oddness, but tone it down in the Church. The Church is about Christ, not your diversity.