Diversity and Love

October 12th, 2010 / 67 Comments

Charles Darwin wisely said, “the greatest amount of life can be supported by great diversification of structure.”  I’ve been thinking lately about the potential helpfulness of diversity in the Church.

Darwin realized that wide varieties of plants, insects, and animals thrive if diverse conditions are present in an environment.  Difference is good for growth.

This general principle in biology – that increased growth requires diversity – emphasizes the importance of avoiding uniformity.  Development needs diverse methods, organizations, and arrangements.  Only a few organisms can live in a homogeneous environment.

The Body of Christ

The Apostle Paul must have had something like this in mind when he compared the Church to a living body.  The body functions well when comprised of many parts, he said.  Each diverse part must contribute to the whole body if the body is to thrive. 

A body cannot function if comprised only of elbows and livers.  It needs the many.

While the importance of diversity is difficult to overstate, we should not equate diversity with chaos.  Life cannot thrive in utter chaos. 

We can be tempted to confuse diversity with chaos when we’re overwhelmed with the novelty we encounter.  But we must not stifle creative difference when diversity expands out of our control.

We who desire to see a strong and growing Church would be wise to heed these principles from the Bible and biology.  Let me be specific:   

Principle 1 — Growth is strongest when structures are diverse. 

In a world of diverse people with diverse backgrounds and diverse dreams, the Church must risk diverse adventures in ministry. 

The same old, same old, leads down a path of barrenness.  If it is to thrive, the Church must be brave enough to venture in many directions simultaneously.  Let a thousand flowers bloom.

Principle 2 — Diverse structures need a shared point of reference.

Just as a body needs a head, the Church needs unity.  Just as an environment needs some stable conditions, so the Church requires overarching harmony.  The Church needs a clear point of reference amidst a variety of voices beckoning for supremacy.

Of course, Christ is the head of the Church that is functioning well.  At their best, Christians are what theologians call “Christocentric.”  No book, no leader, no image, or location, no other things – no matter how holy these other things might seem – can rightly replace Christ as central to the Christian and the Christian community.  Christ is Lord.

Principle 3 — The love revealed in Christ is the shared point of reference for the Church. 

Love is what unifies the diverse expressions of a living and growing Church.  Christ reveals this love in his life, message, actions, death, and resurrection.  The God who is love is the same God who calls creatures to love.  We are to “imitate God, as beloved children, and live a life of love, in the way that Christ loved us…”

Love comes in a million forms.  It takes a thousand shapes.  Love cannot be reduced to a one-size-fits-all formula.  In fact, love requires diversity.

Love retains at its core the impulse to promote abundant life.  It seeks to be a blessing, seeks genuine peace, and works for justice among those who need justice most.  Our acts of love are proper responses to the God who is love.

Perhaps in addition to the truth that “the greatest amount of life can be supported by great diversification of structure,” we should also say that the greatest expressions of love are supported by the greatest diversification of love opportunities. 

May the Church foster diverse opportunities to love! 

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Comments

Martijn van Beveren

Where is the “I like” button. Or better yet, the “I love” button! wink


John Grant

Dr. Oord,
Have you read Nicholas Healy’s book “Church, World and the Christian Life”?  Basically, he draws on von Balthasar’s theodramatic theory (which I am not really familiar with) to talk about individual roles being played in a drama.  And just as a drama needs each role, the church (and even beyond the church) needs the various roles, or parts, to be played out.  There are many characters and many parts that need to be allowed to develop.  It’s very much like what you said about how “the greatest amount of life can be supported by the greatest diversification of structure.”

John


Paul DeBaufer

Great essay Tom.

It is true that we need diverse structures, an environment of diverse strata if we are to accommodate the diversity of the body. I agree that Paul’s metaphor is a very good one. I think that the church needs to reflect this diversity and make room for all of the parts. When we try to force all the parts or species in a region into a single stratum then many die off or flee to find their niche elsewhere.

Very good drawing from environmental biology and population genetics, I think it fitting.


Todd Holden

What would you say is the primary way that anyone first comes to know Jesus, the Christ of God, thus beginning their path to potentially being Christocentric?


Caleb Reynolds

I generally agree that the principles are sound, however, it seems to me that to negate the “same old, same old” as an aspect of that diversity, simply because it is the “same old, same old,” is to cut us off from the ways of worship and ministry that have worked for us in the past.  It seems that, as with anything, it is a matter of balance between the old, which has worked for us in the past, and the new, which may work for us in the future.


David Michael

Yes, familiarity and diversity coupled creates a loving environment which is marked by love.  That is great, and I am all for it.  However, there is, really, a crucial part of the picture missing here: namely, how does the church embrace the absence of love? Or does the church have the wherewithal to locate and honestly name such a reality when it rears its ugly head, without immediately jumping to the diagnosis? 

I think the church does retain this wherewithal via Scripture’s prophetic canon, which was a crucial attribute of Christ’s message; though sadly tradition has often squelched this issue in order to save face.  In my personal experience, the church loves to talk about love but looks down up talking about frustration, anger and doubt.—Or if they do talk about it, it is marked by quotidian, quick answers like “just pray and give it all to the Lord; he will make things better.” 

Sometimes, I wonder if the church forgets the meaning behind Christ being dead and gone for three days (and the “fall” element in biblical paradigm of creation/fall/redemption is sadly forgotten).  There needs to be a place in time where answers are not given, where the dark interim of the wilderness questions and speculates and doubts.


Stephanie Thomas

I strongly agree that churches growth is strongest when structures are diverse.  You need the creative people to think of ideas for the church, the money minded people to think of the financial sides, and the detail oriented people to make it realistic.  This reminds me of the lyrics, “If we are the body, why aren’t His arms moving?”  This song, to me, points out the importance of differences in people that complement each other to work things out for the best of everyone’s interest.  Individual members of a church should strive to overcome personal differences or prejudices to work together for a common goal.  I don’t believe this can happen until all the members of the church learn how to love each other in community.  If we are not acting in love, then the cooperation may all be forced anyway.


Kelsey Koch

One part of this blog that caught my eye was the part about being different to thrive. There is psychological evidence that groups of people from all different backgrounds and ethnicity do much better as a group that people from the same back ground and ethnicity in a group. The more diverse people are having to work harder to get along, but it is shown that as they start to get to know each other better, they realize because of all of their different backgrounds, they bring more to the table and some are more talented with different tasks than others. The diverse group thrived and the similar group did significantly worse than the diverse group. I agree that the church needs to be this way as well, and we need to be open to allowing that to happen. We can all bring different talents and skills to the table and I believe we need to be more willing to accent those differences. If we are able to do this, we are going to be able to love more openly and willingly. Very thought provoking blog!


Amanda Preston

I believe diversity is something that we need more of in our country. I believe it is something God created in order for us to learn and grow. I believe that diversity is a way to learn how to love differently. But with diversity, things that hinder growth may come along, such as other religions and beliefs. All in all this makes us stronger. I can relate this to mission trips. If we had good diversity in our country or around the world this would not be such an oppurtunity.


Preston Ake

It was interesting that you started this passage with wisdom from Charles Darwin, talk about diversifying the message of Christ. Since Biology ties in with all life, I really enjoy the correlation between ecosystems and the Church. The Church is like a complex ecosystem.
Yes, diversity is great, and the church would not be the same without diversity. I think when Christ followers are worried that certain members of the Church will destroy the Church, for example having a homosexual pastor. That they view this as Biological system as well. If you think about an ecosystem, one disease can destroy what it took nature millions of years to build. This ecosystem model is a great example for all who believe in Christ.
If you believe that everything is interlinked, you might also believe that one simple thing can destroy those links. I am in no way against LGBT’s in any way shape or form, but I understand the mind set of some Church members who view such things as a disease in the church. You do not want a disease to be spread, or else the whole system dies.


Nicholas Carpenter

Two things about this. 1) I love the idea of a church being a living entity. It is constantly growing, changing, working, and developing both with itself and with its interactions around it. The church must constantly be in diversity so that it can handle and react well to any and all situations.

2) Love requiring diversity is very true. We all experience this first hand in that we love our friends differently from our significant other, family members, etc. Love must fit the situation and the people involved; for just as everyone is a unique individual so much love pertaining to that person.


Elisabeth Pena

Having been someone who has always felt to be on the ‘diverse’ side of life I really enjoyed this article. I would suggest one of the greatest issues people have with the Church is the idea that all Christians must fit a cookie-cutter image. It’s inspiring to know that “love” is the great element apart of the Christian image. Living a loving life is the greatest of requirements for Christians. It is through this image of love that Christians reach out to others. Again, such a fantastic article!


mike jaquess

If everyone had the same job and same type of family, we would not get anywhere as a community. just as we all pursue differentiation in our lives we need to pursue it in our faith with God. A person of the band in school isnt going to try and save a football player. just as a football player isnt going to get through to a member of the Chinese community. but as followers with the same focus point of Christ, we can pursue the lost in our own areas of knowing.


Sara Butkus

I like how you use a quote from Charles Darwin to start your entry off. I think too many times us Christians can put up blocks to keep anything someone says who is against our beliefs out. Even if someone is completely against our beliefs doesn’t mean that they don’t have some wisdom that we can learn from.

I think diversity is an important concept that the church needs to deal with. Every church will have a different look to it, but out world is changing and if we don’t keep up with it we will be left behind, and how can we tell people about God when we are not keeping up with them.


Korri Dobson

I agree with your statement that the church needs to be diverse.  When you have a diverse church you can reach so many people for Christ.  I also liked your comment about the “same old same old.”  For me an example of this would be the music.  I love the old hymns that everyone knows and everyone sings along to.  But having the new more contemporary music really captures people.  If we stayed only with hymns we would only be attracting people who are from the older generations.  Different backgrounds are what makes the world go around and keeps things interesting.  I have noticed that in the past my church has not been very diverse.  They have had really good intentions but it seemed that the focus was mainly geared toward the cowboys and Harley riders.  Opposites I know.  In the last 6 months we have veered away from country music and sermons with roping analogies and have welcomed in young people who want to do a rap song for a special or young married couples who want to do the welcoming in the morning.  We even have some younger people giving the message on Sundays.  When you welcome in diversity you appeal to everyone which is what God wants.  He knows us and gives us all different gifts that he wants us to use.  If every person were the same, how boring would that be?


Erin Rickart

I think this topic is a great one that many times isn’t thought about. Diversity is the spice of life, and can make a relationship with God even stronger. I agree that growth is strongest when structures are diverse. The church needs to be able to let “a thousand flowers bloom” but in many directions, not just the direction that they want to see them go in. With that said, there also needs to be some sort of shared interest that all members can stay grounded in; Jesus. Christ is the head of the church. While we all are diverse and are different parts of the body we need to have a central head to guide us along which ever path we choose to grow on. Love requires diversity; diversity in activities, actions, points of interest, etc. We all need to grow in different directions, which ever direction God calls us but at the same time staying grounded in Jesus and showing His love everywhere we go.


Tara McClees

I agree that the church needs to be diverse in order to function. Too often churches become caught up in the details (worship styles, theology, etc.) that they end up excluding everyone except those that fit in a particular mold, whether that be a generation or ethnic group. I also agree that we need the shared point of reference, or core values as I have said in conversation with others about this. The main point, Christ and his love, is what should be important to the church and everything else should stem from that.


Laura Shacklett

One of the main phrases from this blog that sticks out to me is “life can not thrive in chaos.” This had such a huge impact on me as I was frantically reading this article so I could move on to my next homework assignment. When I read this I realized that I needed to take a deep breath and relax. Chaos is part of college but we need to take time to rewind and spend real time with God and those we love. Another part of this blog that I agree with is that the church should not be in a stand still sticking with the old traditions. It is important to incorporate the new in with the old. Times are changing and the church needs to realize that, and I am afraid if they don’t then there will be a limited amount of younger people attending church. God made this earth so diverse for a reason! Earth would be so boring if everyone looked the same and there was not a variety of species of plants and animals. This blog made a lot of sense to me and I think it is important that my generation puts these steps into action.


Shanna Rippy

I really enjoyed this article because having grown up in the church, I have always felt that as Christians there is this mold we have to fit into. However, I think with how connected our world as become and how creative my generation is, I see that the idea of the church and how is shows God’s love is expanding and the idea of love taking on different forms is becoming almost common. As people we are not the same, but God’s love is the same for all people. However, how we share this love needs to meet what kind of people we are witnessing to. I think the traditions and the foundations the church stands are very important, but the church shouldn’t be scared to find new ways to plant flowers.


Kellie Miller

One thing that really caught my eye was when you said, “we should not equate diversity with chaos.” I think that is a very good thing to emphasize. I feel that sometimes people want to be SO diverse that it throws things out of wack and it tends to get worse.
Another thing that I was thinking of as I was reading this, is the way that we are to love the people different than us. I do think that it is important to love and accept them and what they bring to the table, but I think it is also important that we remember that tolerance isn’t what we are called to do. We are called to judge if our brothers and sisters in Christ are sinning. We need to hold each other accountable while accepting everyone’s differences. I feel that is much different than tolerance.


Emily Curty

This post on unity and diversity reminded me of the speaker who joined us during NNU’s Beloved Community week. I was so saddened by the news of his death, and I pray that the work he and his colleagues pursued will be continued. His work and desire to bring the diversity into the Church was fantastic, and I really enjoyed the perspective he brought. The video he showed that depicted people of all sorts of cultures worshipping God in their own cultures was a great reminder that God knows every language, and loves each person as much as all the others, no matter their cultural background.


Thiago Alberto

After reading this great article, I had some flash back of some really strong churches I have visited in my life while living in California.  In these churches, I was able to worship with people of all kinds of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds as one Church. This freedom of worship experienced in some of these churches, I believe can only be attained when we let Christ be at the center of church politics.  I believe with the love of Christ as the main driving force of a ministry lives are changed regardless of what century or culture the Church is living in.  The love of Christ is what transforms people.


Elisabeth Grinder

I think the idea of diversity in the church (in all aspects) is one that needs to be focused on more and more as the world changes and morphs. And I do see that many churches are trying to do this: updating music and location, advertising to younger people and wider varieties of people. But I feel that it cannot be a “half-assed” attempt at diversity. In reference to a comment made earlier on this article, a church cannot claim to be accepting or seeking diversity when they still believe that having a homosexual pastor will destroy the church. Then again, it has been my experience that those churches are not the ones in pursuit of diversity or acceptance.


April Kerbyson

I have been involved with worship ministry for the past 10 years.  Over those years, I have heard many debates about contemporary music versus traditional hymnal music.  As each side debates their point, I think there needs to be a middle ground where both styles are accepted.  Just as the blog post talked about how there needs to be diversity, I believe there needs to be diversity of praise and worship music.  Even though both sides are debated by people who are biased towards one side or the other,  people need to be reminded that what unifies them is the love they have for Christ (principle 2 of the blog post), and they need to respond to each other’s differences of style in respectful loving ways (principle 3 of the blog post).  I believe diversity is important, because when it exists and is welcomed, people are able to learn new things and see things from a different perspective.  In this case, having diverse members within the church is good for growth and people should stop trying to get others to conform to a “one-right-way” of thinking or doing things in the church.


Christabel Leonce

I agree that all living organisms thrive on diverse methods and organization. Like organisms, the church is also a very diverse unit. Like you stated in your essay, Paul explained it very well for us; the body of Christ, like the human body is made up of several different parts and each part although performing different task all come together for one bigger cause. This takes me to your principle # 2, although we are all different and have different tasks to carry out and may grow differently (spiritually), if we are working in the Kingdom of God we should all have the same reference. Just as all parts of the body are controlled by the brain and neurons that they are all connected to, for our diversity to become unity and not chaos we need to be centered in Christ who is the head of the church.
*Side note: becoming centered would involve reading the Bible and being in constant and earnest prayer with God.


Kindra Galloway

Though I do think that welcoming diversity is a great thing, people do not come together by noting their differences, rather, we meet with people who share things in common. So I would agree with the aspect of this post that talks about sharing a point of reference. We should not focus on diversity, though, because that is not what drives a body of believers. It was mentioned how just like the human body requires different parts to create the whole, so does the body of Christ. I completely agree with this, but the “whole” should be the focus.


Elora Drake

I have always loved the comparison Paul makes of the church to a body. I think the reason being is while so many in the church wanted to go into ministry or become missionaries, I wanted to be a nurse. I like that in Paul’s comparison while we have a need for people to be missionaries and pastors we also need someone to the requirements of a nurse or doctor. I do agree that diversity makes for more growth and can be an amazing thing for our church environment.


beth castro

Just like in the conversation about younger generations leaving the church, diversity needs to be recognized and embraced to a degree.  It is what will allow a congregation to thrive and allow those who are included to feel loved.  With the first principle, it is diversity that keeps an assembly honest.  “The same old, same old, leads down a path of barrenness.  If it is to thrive, the Church must be brave enough to venture in many directions simultaneously.  Let a thousand flowers bloom.”  The second principle is very important, Keep Christ as the head of the body, or the soil the flowers grow from.  Yes, let the diversity bloom, but keep it grounded in Christ.  The third principle is to love with Christ.  The garden does not have one kind of flower, it is full of all different colors and when tending the garden, it is a love for all the beauty that allows the garden to grow and thrive.


Benjamin Messmer

As humans we tend to go to the place of most comfort.  I think that even though diversity can help growth we tend to move away from it.  We want to be around those who have similar ideas and values as our own and that does not promote diversity.  Would you rather go to a place where you are comfortable with your surroundings or one where we are challenged?  We tend to be risk averse.


Diane Vander Hulst

I have never thought of diversity in such a way. The more I got to thinking, the more I realized you are absolutely right. The more diverse the situations are, the more I feel I have experienced and learned from these types of situations. My favorite point you made was at the end when you stated, “perhaps in the addition to the truth that the greatest amount of life can be supported by the great diversification of structure, we should also say that the greatest expressions of love are supported by the greatest diversification of love opportunities.” I know that when I go out of my comfort zone to love more diverse people and allow myself to get to know them, not based on per-conceived notions, than I feel I show the greatest expression of love that I can. I believe that it is the diversity of their thoughts that keep me, as a Christian from remaining stagnant in my faith. It is in these moments of diversity that I feel I am able to learn and grow.


Caitlin Bauder

I grew up always being told that I am the only person like me in the whole wide world. I was always told to embrace being different. As I got older, being different wasn’t accepted. As children we are told that God creates people different. As adults we are told that we need to be a specific person to fit in. I agree with Oord, growth comes from diversity, we need some structure and that love should be the same for all.


Elisha Storm

“Just as a body needs a head, the Church needs unity.” Love is what creates this unification. I wonder why then this is lacking in churches today. In response to the conference last night, the adults ages 18-29 drop out of church, and I know I am one of those statistics. In reality, I haven’t quite come across a church where love, unity and diversification are the main emphasis. I know it exists; I’ve seen churches grow powerfully in not only numbers, but in relationships, commitments, and unity. I think that is what is lacking in churches today. When you witness that kind of powerful love and support from a church, it carries the biggest impact and it’s not something you can really leave. Accountability, love, support, discipline, and care speak the most to us who, during these years of our lives, are experiencing the most turmoil in our transition from being a teenager to an adult.


Taylor Watson

I agree with the main thought of this post that diversity promotes strength within any organization, whether that is a family, business or church body. Every person has been given unique strengths and we should use that diversity to strengthen the ways we are able to serve the Lord. Although I did agree with that thought, “The same old, same old, leads down a path of barrenness” comment at the end threw me off a bit. Although diversity promotes strength, you can’t get rid of the skeletal structure. As you talked about Paul’s words of not all being able to be hands or elbows, there is structure needed in the church as well as diversity. As we look back in church history there is a consistent foundation that has remained with the Church since it’s very beginning. That “same old”, oftentimes is the truth that holds Christianity together. Although diversity is a good thing, tradition should not be cast aside.


Priscilla Cuevas

I agree that God is the center of the church and I think even though it seems like an obvious thing I feel as if people sometimes get so involved in trying to make sure the church is organized and serving its purpose. So I am very happy that you have pointed that out. I also love the fact that you stated the church should be diverse because I believe that is very important because without diversity we wouldn’t truly be help others.


Derek

How appropriate that a panel discussion about youth in the church and church diversity takes place, when the blog assigned is about diversity in the church and diversity of love as well. I wholeheartedly agree that we cannot be so ethnocentric about our own church attendance and community that we alienate those on the outside looking in. If the church is to be an all inclusive organization where we seek to include and bring people to Christ… how can we achieve that goal if there is no diversity in our ministry? Of course, Christ needs to be the focal point and center piece of our worship and ministry – no other facet can provide us with the leadership and structure we desire and need. But I believe as long as we keep that our main focus, everything else – more or less – falls to the way side when it comes to membership, love, and diversity.


Natalie Evans

This article automatically made me think of my cross-country team. Each year we choose a bible verse to represent the team and our coach chose 1 Corinthians 12:12,26 which as mentioned in your article speaks of the body and the necessity of each part, no matter how small or big. Being part of any team is difficult especially when you are not number one but he chose this verse to explain to us that you don’t have to be number one to contribute to the team. It takes all of us to get to where we were needing to go and sometimes we forget that diversity and unity strengthens things and allows them to grow stronger rather than hurt and dissolve.


Davis Halle

The phrase the stuck out to me was that the church needs unity. Does the church have unity today? It sure does not seem to be that way when the youth of our day are falling away from the church for many reasons. If the church is to have unity we must adapt to change to the changing world. We are the church and change can be good if it is with God and with our community. We obviously want to stay out of chaos which is hard when people are stuck in their traditions but in many things like the church there must be change and adaptation. Jesus was willing to go into the homes of tax collectors and so there for we need to realize that the church is for the broken and if we need to adapt to bring more broken and lost people into the church then we must adapt. we can not be pushing away the one sheep that is lost because we are all safe and found. We must change to welcome those who are lost into our loving home of God because this place is the place where they need to be and where they can be free and loved. I really love the idea of a unified church but it is hard to be unified when tradition and change clash. God is our peace keeper and through him anything is possible, even change in the strongest of traditional churches.


Tim Stieglitz

The aspect of diversity in religion is an interesting but troubling concept at the same time. It’s easy to say that the church should expand but this isn’t a practical idea. The very fact that denominations exist in the church show this to be impossible. Not to mention the international vastness of religion in general. I often thought of a conceptual religion that could be universal and openly accepted, but the church can’t even accept that within Western christianity. This exclusive nature of religion makes it all the less believable for people outside of the church. Everyone claims to worship the one true god. How can this be if people can’t acknowledge other gods?


Noah Chance

Unity and uniformity in the Church is tough today especially in the societal culture that says we are all, “special” and we deserve individuality. I believe that this social construct has been taken far into its extremes and we have lost the benefit of unity. “Customization” I believe is the buzz word that is seen most often especially in youth. Unity in purpose, motivation, and goals does so much more than division and separation.


Cassidy Ball

Sadly in the culture of today’s churches I have seen diversity viewed as a negative thing. Most believe that change and different opinions are bad and are what separate the church. I like the verse that is tied in with this blog about comparing the body of Christ to a human body. The human body can’t rely on just the heart to sustain it, or just the lungs or the nervous system. There has to be diversity and different compartments all working together in unity. Once one of those compartments fails then the rest of the body slowly starts to fail as a whole. Diversity keeps us united as a church body.


Noelle Parton

I agree with everything said in this post. While I was reading it I did think about the idea of chaos in our own lives. I think this idea of diversity and chaos are true in terms of self-love and keeping our lives from becoming chaotic because of the many commitments we carry. I think it is important to not let ourselves get stretched too thin in hopes of being more diverse it will end up hindering our ability to positively contribute to every one of those commitments.


Andong Yue

This article points out an important concept that different people love differently, and this diversity is what makes love great. In contrast, many people still hold the “old Christian stereotype“ and believe all Christians should love the exact same way. And “the way” they think every Christian should to follow, is usually “their way” (how surprise). I think it is very important to affirm other people’s acts of love even though their ways of loving might be different from ours. Because diversity is what makes love so great. If everyone loves in the exact same way, I simply cannot picture what the world would like.


Shantay

I like what you have said about diversity in the church. I think that without adversity we cannot grow as the body of Christ. We need all people and everyone brings something different. I agree that diversity has been labeled as a negative thing in some situations, however chaos is also labeled as negative. Maybe chaos does have some purpose. Without chaos, would there be order? Love needs diversity, which I think concludes we need diversity.


Lexi Sterling

I could definitely resonate with everything said in this post. Difference is not only good for growth; increased growth requires diversity and often avoids uniformity. As a member of the Church, I firmly believe I learn more as a member of a diverse body, than simply attending an age specific group. While I certainly believe these groups play an important role, I loved being connected to a larger group growing up than simply a young adult class or program. Being connected and having relationship with those who are not my same age is essential… even that type of simple diversity, age, can create so much more growth than simply having one specific age group. There is so much wisdom that can be gained through diversity, and I firmly believe the Church needs to seek and reaffirm this. When a church shares in the unity of pursing Christ, seeking the common goal, we can move through our diversity and be connected knowing we all share the same point of reference.


Cali Carpenter

This blog post really got me thinking about not only how important it is for the church to be pursuing diverse activities, but also how important it is for all of the members of the church to be diverse. It is trivial that churches are doing things to attract a wide range of people, which will in effect bring in a lots of different types of people. This is not only important for growth, but it will also keep ideas within the church fresh and new. When a church consists of all the same kind of people, it would be easy for them to get in a rut. When everyone is similar with similar beliefs, things can become mundane. New people bring unfamiliarity and excitement, which I think can really help churches thrive in today’s environment.


Matti Munger

“The greatest amount of life can be supported by great diversification of structure,” this quote really stood out to me, it, along with the rest of the blog made me think a lot about my years here at NNU actually. In high school I always thought that Darwin’s theory could never be true and evolution couldn’t be a possibility if you believed in God. As a biology major here at NNU I’ve found that you can’t always just go along with what people say, even if it’s your pastor. You have to question everything you hear and think about things for yourself because there could be an in between, it doesn’t always have to be one or the other.


Kara Den Hoed

I think that having diversity in a church, or any group for that matter, is a good point to remember. Sometimes we (I) get so caught up in thinking that our way is the right way. Maybe we think it would be easier if everyone could see it our way, but the truth is, nothing would quite be complete if we did it all only looking at it from one angle. In order for something (a project, idea, theory) to be complete, I think it requires all different angles and views that one person could never think of all by his or herself. Also, one person (or type of person) can’t be good at everything. There are just somethings that someone else is better at. But, I also think that all these people have to have a common goal when trying to complete a project or idea etc. otherwise nothing will get done if everyone has a different vision. I think that is the same for a church. It is great to have different ideas and strengths and all that stuff, but it is important that they have a common vision.


Connor Magnuson

I would have never thought to use a biological principle to help illustrate a reality within the church. I think the analogy of a population growing diversely just as a church needs to grow diversely is a proper parallel of how science interacts with religion. While we cannot fully understand the depths of science, the same goes for religion and the Bible. Often the best that we can do is to interpret it the best we can. The ‘chaos’ principle mentioned by Dr. Oord could not have spoken better to us as college students. There isn’t one person who is not busy while they are in college and the importance of keeping a busy, yet not chaotic, lifestyle is important to a successful experience.


Michael Delie

I think the most important thing I took from this blog is that everyone has an opinion and that not everyone is right. Very often in today’s world most people act as if they have all the answers and are so positive that they understand the deepest and most sophisticated questions. It is pretty interesting to me, especially seeing young students in college with very little experience in life and studies, feeling that they understand life’s questions fully. The fact is that even the oldest and most wise of all humans don’t even understand everything. In regards to church diversity this is a good thing I believe. Having comradery is a good thing but different opinions and learning other viewpoints is more important. Since we all can’t understand everything in this life I don’t see the point in not exploring other viewpoints than your own. Diversity is extremely vital to the church and understanding your own faith.


melissa verhage

I really like the last point made about diversity and love in this blog. “The love revealed in Christ is the shared point of reference for the church.” I thought it was really cool how it pointed out God’s love is the same to all and it’s a common point but at the same time the way love is shown is different to all. Some may need to see love by having someone to talk to and as a companion where another person may need love as someone who comes along and helps clean their yard up because they are unable to. Diversity is good and needs to happen for us to thrive because we all have different personalities and lives.


Brianna Kinghorn

Talking about diversity in Christianity in general brought up a question to me; is the multitude of branches of christianity and Christ-based faiths a good thing? This article makes me think that it is. As long as they are all based on the Christ-like teachings and on love then it should be welcomed. Not only welcomed, but encouraged. This can help us expand our understanding of Christ and love in a way that couldn’t be done if we accepted uniformity.


Allison Christy

I completely agree that diversity leads to growth, and thus I also agree that there ought to be a diverse number of approaches to acting out and living by Christian love. I think the Church has a lot to benefit from by embracing all sorts of people and traditions, as long as there is that single, common denominator, and that is Christ. If Christ and His love is at the center of all forms of the way we love, then the diversity in which love is expressed truly is incredible. Not only does it mean that Christian love can exist and thrive in a number of different forms, but it also means that it can be fine tuned in a way that it might reach a whole host of different people. I think too often people in the Church are afraid of what is different, but really it is the diversity in the type of people and the way they can love that shows how truly timeless the love of Christ is, and is something Christians ought to embrace.


Kristen Loper

Diversity in the church I believe is what makes it real and human. The church is a family and with most church families the core values are solid,( being Christ-centered and loving others). The human part of being in a church body is that sometimes the feet step on each other , the hand slaps the face and fungus grows in the toes. Helping each other grow and truly being authentic about what is going on in your part of the body is essential. Knowing that the ultimate goal of the church is to keep and make disciples for Christ, building each other up and loving with grace as we do so. We have to be diverse to be able to do that. In what makes us each different, we can reach everyone for Christ. Maybe, the question we as a body need to be asking is: Are we using what makes us different for Christ or are we just trying to make others be and worship like us?


Michael Gordon

One of the reasons why love is so difficult to define is because of the fact that it is so diverse. It comes in many forms and it’s hard to pinpoint love in society. My form of love is doing kind acts for my wife and making her happy. That is one way I show love to my wife. Someone who doesn’t show a lot of love in their life might have a much simpler act of love such as a hug. If a person isn’t very passionate or expressive of love, then a hug could be the greatest form of love that they show in their life.


Randy Kingsmore

Diversity is great! How boring would the world be if everyone were like me? But it also comes with a set of challenges, especially when dealing with people who are radically different from me. The challenge is to truly engage and understand them. Often, I am too quick to judge base don some superficial observation. That is not to say I must accept them or believe as they do. Their is a great blessing in engaging in the diversity brought by others. It is often an expanding experience. A different view of the same object. A view that would never have occurred to me and makes me better for having considered it.


Toniessa Phelps

I totally agree with diversity in the church. The church I currently attend has a ton of diversity. For example, we have a lot of young couples, kids, middle aged couples and a few older generation people who attend my church. That brings different ideas which helps bring in more people but just like you said we have to unify and I think that’s what makes diversity in a church so awesome because we all bring something different to the church but when it comes down to it we all come together for one cause to win souls for the lord. That is the same in love. People love others differently and That’s what makes everyone’s relationships with others special.


Allie Kroeger

I really love the idea that our diversity is meant to ultimately glorify God. If we were all the same, then we wouldn’t be able to show the world the different aspects of love through out different personalities and strengths. We as different parts create one whole and I think that is why it is super important to live our strengths to the fullest. God gave us different strengths for such a distinct reason and this blog helped me to better think about that. I really like what you said about love being the thing that unifies all of our differences in Christ. As long as we are loving each other through our different strengths, we are giving God glory. Such an awesome thing to think about!


Kendra wilson

I had an experience with diversity in the church this weekend and I cant say it was a good experience. I havent yet been baptized but every church I have been in has served communion to all who wish to partake. Well this past weekend I was at a Hispanic church service with a friends family and when they called for the communion the Pastor said “Come forth those who are worthy, baptized in water, and partake in communion.” So for the first time I was told I couldnt partake in communion and I was really offended. I was talking with my friends parents and they said that every Hispanic church they have been to has been like that. So as I do think diversity can be a great thing I got to experience something that was out of the ordinary when it came to diversity in the church.


Rachel Finley

Can I hear and AMEN to this blog! If everyone in the Body of Christ understood these principles then the level of unity in the church would thrive, causing an exponential growth of believers. It breaks my heart when certain denominations will think they are better than another; therefore, creating division among all Christians. God gave each of us different personalities which comes with different gifts and talents. Just to think, if we weren’t so judgmental, but instead allowed everyone to operate in their strengths for the glory of God, imagine how many lives could be reached. The more diversity we have in the body of Christ, the more people can be shown Jesus’ love and divine grace. If we can individually work on accepting each other’s diversity, that will be the birth of a new and improved Christianity. I would call it, the love revival.


Brad

The topic of this blog this week I have been thinking about and contemplating for a few years. When I was in high school I went to a non-denominational church and a Nazarene youth group. I never understood the thinking that only one certain church or believe was THE right one. I do not think that any one group has the right and perfect answer. I also think diversity in church and religion is good because it helps for people to grow and it also helps people where they are spiritually. Not everyone is at the same level spiritually so some churches are more focused on new believers or life long Christians. Having diversity is the Church is a good and powerful thing.


Cass Hinton

I found this blog incredibly interesting. I like the way that it references Charles Darwin in a positive way and compares some of his ideas to important ideas that we as the church body will benefit from. While I had always thought that diversity was something that tore apart the church and created barriers, this article was very eye opening. I really liked the points made by Dr. Oord. I had never given much thought to the positive possibilities that diversity could provide.


Kevin Field

The concept of allowing for diversity in order to house growth and productivity is very important from my perspective. In order to actively engage in the world, individuals must become comfortable bringing their experience to church. When individuals recognize the necessity for the sharing a spreading of the good news things will naturally grow and spread outside of the church. Although having a sound foundation on Christ and the love that he portrays is important, I have recognized and become discouraged at times when overthinking the theology of Christianity has lead to argumentation and away from the motive of sharing Love with the world.


Brenden O’Neill

Having the background in the church that I have had, I have seen how this diversity has not been present and the ramifications that this has on the body. The main problem that I have seen is how much we as Christians value the comfort that we find in church on Sunday morning. This can be good because it at least brings people in the doors, but this comfort is in direct conflict with the diversity that the body of Christ needs to survive. In a sense, in order to let others assume the roles of the body that they are called to, we have to be humble and open to the change that comes with church growth. Especially in today’s society.


Ana

The diversification in which we sometimes find ourselves in are commonly full of great hate and struggle. I agree that in such struggles like these we learn the meaning of love, even more, we understand the meaning of love. I feel like in the most diverse times in our lives we find that we can see the love God has for us either during or after such trials. It is through experience that we gain wisdom and lessons that we learn from. We group from such lessons and struggles that we encounter in our life.


Rachel Ball

I like this whole idea of differences fostering true growth. I believe that as humanity, we develop and grow the best when we work together with people who are different from us. One of the greatest ways we can learn about Jesus is through how others around us know Jesus. I know him one specific way because of how he has moved and worked through me in different times of my life. Someone else with different experiences know Him much differently than I do. It is these differences that allow us to grow and experience Him in a multitude of ways.


Spencer Hassman

Christ is indeed the perfect being for the Church to center itself on. The general principles and guidelines that are present in the teachings of Jesus, like love, grace, mercy, humility, and others, are clearly present in scripture and history (partially). Scripture and tradition offer weak cornerstones as they are invariably created, in some way or another, by man and are therefore subject to error and bias. Regardless of your view of scripture, its source, or the foundations of Christian tradition, most can agree on the broad strokes of the life of Jesus. From a practical standpoint, He exists as the most stable and consistent figure in the Christian faith.


Curtis S Mostul

The body of Christ being diverse is to me a very healthy analogy of our faith. Each part of the body needs to be different and do something unique for the body. If each part thought the same as the other then we would be a pile of moosh. It is in this same thought line that I like to think of different believers having different opinions on traditions and beliefs within the church. We need people who think differently than us to keep the waters turning and to keep our faith fresh and healthy. A stagnant fair is a dying faith.


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