Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Diversity 2 - A Biblical Conviction

The drive within us on this issue comes from a biblical conviction. It is based in theology, not just pragmatically driven by a multi-cultural situation.

Simon Pettit spoke some years ago at the Leadership Conference on ‘One New Man in Christ’. Multi-coloured diversity had been pioneered in the church he led, Jubilee Church, Cape Town. It seems to me that only one or two churches could work this out in the UK where we have mostly provincial towns, predominately white. We must take the theology and work it out. We can cast a biblical picture and things have changed over the last 5 yrs as we have done so.

So we look at the following passages:

Col 3:11–12. Here there is no Greek or Jew…

Eph 2:14 He himself is our peace… and has destroyed the dividing wall of hostility.

In a surface reading of the New Testament there is a race issue as the gospel breaks out and impacts both Jew and Gentile. There are also cross-class and cross-generational issues for us to deal with. These biblical principles cover those issues, too. We have the privilege of living in places where we can work it out.


You need to work out in your context the terminology you are comfortable with. We discussed this for hours and decided on the term ‘multi-cultural’. Others have gone for ‘multi-racial’ or ‘multi-ethnic’. The terms are often interchangeable, but Lex Loizides, the Newfrontiers’ evangelist from Cape Town, SA, argues passionately for multi-racial. Dave Devenish, a senior leader within our movement, prefers the term ‘multi-ethnic’. I received an e-mail from him explaining his concern with our choice on the grounds of what he would see as the failure of multi-culturalism in the UK. But we have chosen ‘multi-cultural’ because, apart from a varied racial mix, we also have in our church a deaf community who have a culture of their own, also second generation black Britons who do not think of themselves as a separate ethnic group.

Avoid being politically correct – we haven’t got into quotas. Try to be sensitive but keep humour in the situation. We are aware we have made and are going to make mistakes, unintentionally offending people from time to time. We are grateful that our black community continues to extend grace to us in this as we move forward into new territory.