Diversity, Innovation and Mission

Just read an interesting article in the Harvard Business Review. According to a recent McKinsey report, the more ethnic and racial diversity in a team the better they produce, financially. The numbers came in suggesting a 35 percent better return. Gender diversity suggested that companies were liable to be 15 percent better off financially.

Building diversity into a church leadership team is bound to produce similar results in several areas. I’m thinking innovation, missional strategies and overall church health.

Working with people who see things from a different perspective always improves innovation and new ways to see things. A book I read, recently, posits that cities produce far more innovation than suburbs or rural areas. Sure, someone might figure out how to improve a tractor blade in the country, but it is the city where ideas collide together forging new ones. A simplistic example of this is so-called “fusion food.” I know a restaurant called, “Pancho & Wongs.” Enough said…

The gospel would have remained an unusual Jewish doctrine were it not for Paul and his teams of Jews and Hellenists. Modern congregations reaching the world through their own missions efforts depend heavily upon an ethnic mix to learn quickly what missiologists struggled with over generations. “International churches” in Japan continue to outstrip traditional Japanese churches for growth. Some of these congregations include Americans, Taiwanese, Australians and Nigerians along with Japanese nationals. In fact, the international churches usually boast a bigger crowd of Japanese than most all-Japanese congregations. Seems the broader the mix the easier to focus on the big picture.

I get Donald McGavran & Peter Wagner’s theories about churches being “homogeneous units” and people wanting to worship with people of shared values. But it seems that we live in a day when Kingdom values are bigger than those reflected by our individual backgrounds.

Recruiting and hiring people who don’t look, think or talk like you can help you dodge the monotony of conformity, opening new vistas of ministry.

Living in Hawaii seems to have given me an advantage when it comes to teaming up with people different from myself. I’ve recently spoken with a couple of different people from the U.S. mainland who still think in terms of mono-ethnic congregations. They are open to anyone who comes to their churches and each can boast a couple of ‘token’ outsiders. But it is the makeup of the leadership team that will dictate who is comfortable in the chairs. Diversity best works its wonders when it is intentional.

Diversity is good for us as it was for the Apostle Paul.