If, like me, you’re slightly nervous about today’s social agenda of ‘inclusion and diversity’, then you, and your church, may need an injection of real gospel diversity to set the record straight and (to change the metaphor) adjust the direction in which we are traveling.
Greg Morse has some helpful guidelines, addressed especially to pastors, but useful to us all. I summarise:-
1. Don’t dismiss social justice as “not a gospel issue.” True, social justice is not the gospel, but it is just as true to say that it is an essential and inevitable outcome of the gospel.
2. Diversify the liturgy. No need to ditch the old hymns – many of them are priceless. but be prepared to diversify the music and (when necessary) explain the hymns.
3. Diversify the leadership. As far as it is possible in your setting, make sure that people from different backgrounds, perspectives and cultures are contributing.
4. Tell stories and quote the preaching of saints from other cultures. Morse urges: ‘Intentionally read works from other ethnicities and cultures, and sprinkle them throughout your preaching ministry to remind people that God has revealed himself to non-white thinkers, writers, and preachers.’
5. Preach the ethnicity-filled text. The Bible is full of people we would regard as belonging to ethnic minorities. No-one was Caucasian. No-one looked, thought, or spoke like us. Christianity only for the whites? No if we are faithful to our core text.
6. Preach the gospel intelligibly. Sin is a barrier to heaven; but complex language should not be. Those with a university degree need to be fed; but so do those who cannot read. ‘The plea is not for shallow preaching, but rather for piercing, substantive, winsome preaching that challenges, convicts, and comforts normal people.’
7. Strive to make the local church local. ‘Aspire and pray that the demographics of your church might generally reflect the neighborhood it belongs to.’ Avoid the temptation to rally round one cultural expression of worship, especially if it’s not the culture of your local area.