BODY CONVERSATIONS

A BIBLICAL FOUNDATION FOR ONENESS AND DIVERSITY

VALUING OUR DIVERSITY SERIES 3: Valuing our Diversity in the Body of Christ


BECOMING ALL THINGS TO ALL PEOPLE!

LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION ON PRACTICALLY HOW WE MIGHT ADJUST OURSELVES AND PRACTICALLY LIVE OUT OUR LOVE AND SERVICE TO OUR FAMILY, CHURCHES, NEIGHBORS, AND OTHERS WHO MAY HAVE DIFFERENT BELIEFS AND CULTURAL PRACTICES.                  

Summary:  As the Apostle Paul shares with us in 1 Corinthians 9:19, “although he was free, I make myself a slave!”  Paul further states in 1 Corinthians 9:22, “he has become all things to all men, that he might save some!”  Do we have the same view as Paul? 
   
     
Today’s Context:  Is it our tendency to want others to adjust to our lifestyle versus us adjusting ourselves to reach people where they are.  Jesus adjusted Himself to reach us where we were (Philippians 2).   

LISTENING TO THE PEOPLE 

LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION ON THE VALUE OF LISTENING TO THE PEOPLE WE ARE SERVING PRIOR TO MAKING DECISIONS ON HOW TO SERVE THEM.                   

Summary:  “Now [a]at this time while the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint arose on the part of the [b]Hellenistic Jews against the native Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food.” Acts 6:1.  Although the Apostles were Holy Spirit led, they were unaware of a neglected need in the Body of Christ.  Church and Community Leadership need to make prayerful and informed decisions in love and service to our churches, ministries, and communities.  For Leadership to make informed decisions, they need to take time to prayerfully listen to the needs of the people.  
   
     
Today’s Context:  If church and community leadership are not careful, we can close ourselves off in a prayer room detached and uninformed of important unmet needs within our congregations and communities.    

IS GOD A REPUBLICAN, DEMOCRAT OF OTHER? - VALUING OUR DIFFERENT OPINIONS WITHOUT COMPROMISING HIS BIBLICAL TRUTH

LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION ON BIBLICAL TRUTH REGARDING POLITICALLY DIVISIVE ISSUES INCLUDING THE AUTHORITY/ROLE OF GOVERNMENT, JUSTICE, LIFE, MARRIAGE, AND IMMIGRATION ISSUES, JUST TO NAME A FEW.                    

Summary:  God’s heart breaks over the division in His church due to our political differences.  Within the Body of Christ, we have a diversity of political opinions and positions on contemporary issues.  Some of us are Republican, Democrat, Independent, or have other political affiliations.  The good news is that we can stand firmly on our Biblical Truth regarding political matters without compromising our Biblical Love for all people.       
   
     
Today’s Context:  Throughout the history of mankind and this country, the evil one has successfully convinced people to associate God with some political party and/or ideology.  As a result, there continues to be growing division within and between churches and the communities we are called to love and serve.  Our lack of love and unity (as believers) has severely damaged our witness in the local community as well as regionally, nationally, and through the world. 

THE DISCIPLES OF JESUS STRUGGLE WITH DIVERSITY – RECONCILING AND VALUING ALL PEOPLE

LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION ON MOMENTS WHEN JESUS’ DISCIPLES STRUGGLED WITH DIVERSITY AND HOW WE CAN BECOME EMPATHIC WITH OTHERS WHEN WE HAVE OUR OWN STRUGGLES WITH DIVERSITY.                          

Summary:  Our Heavenly Father gave Jesus the first 12 men (Matthew 10).  A total of 120 men and women disciples are recorded in Acts 1 after Jesus’s resurrection.  Although they spent daily and intimate time with Jesus for up to three years, they still struggled with diversity and seeing God’s heart for all people.         
   
     
Today’s Context:  Jesus faced His disciples several issues of diversity and dealt with them head on with His followers…as He still does today!  How should we address our own struggles with diversity as Christians?   

THE DIVERSE LIFE OF JESUS: THE MODEL OF BIBLICAL DIVERSITY

LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION ON HOW JESUS’ INTENTIONALLY MINISTERED TO PEOPLE FROM DIVERSE BACKGROUNDS AND HOW WE ARE CALLED TO DO LIKEWISE!                     

Summary:  Jesus sets the example by choosing leadership, reaching out, spending time with, ministering to people from diverse backgrounds.  
   
     
Today’s Context: Within today’s society, separation and divisiveness are the norm.  Diversity leads to general discomfort and fear, but we can overcome our prejudgments through the power, love, and wisdom of the Holy Spirit.  We must be intentional, as Jesus, to spend time with people who  think, look, and act differently than ourselves to break down walls that divide us.           

THE MULTIPLE DIMENSIONS OF MULTICULTURAL POPULATIONS

LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION HOW GOD HAS UNIQUELY DESIGNED EACH OF US AND HOW WE CAN RESPOND TO PEOPLE BASED ON THEIR UNIQUE COMBINATION OF PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS/ABILITIES, GENERATIONAL AND CULTURAL EXPERIENCES, AND OTHER ACQUIRED/PERCEIVED SOCIETAL LABELS…IN POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE WAYS.                       

Summary:  God has designed each of us uniquely through a combination of cultural experiences, physical characteristics/abilities, childhood and family experiences, spiritual journeys, and other experiences.  None of us are truly monocultural!  Let’s also discuss how we might personally respond to one or more dimensions in positive or negative ways through internal, non-verbal, verbal, and behavioral responses.  (Adapted from Primary and Secondary Dimensions of Diversity, Loden & Rosener, 1991)  
   
     
Today’s Context:  We tend to make up and believe stereotypes (i.e. negative and positive) of people who have similar or different physical qualities/abilities and other acquired societal status and experiences.  As we take time to get to know others, we will learn that people are not homogeneous, but are heterogeneous in perspectives and experiences.     

THE PRIVILEGE WALK EXERCISE

LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION HOW THE PRIVILEGES AND/OR LACK OF PRIVILEGES IN OUR CHILDHOOD CAN SHAPE OUR CONCEPTS AND RELATIONSHIPS WITH PEOPLE WHO ARE SIMILAR AND DIFFERENT.                           

Summary:  This adapted Privilege Walk exercise (1) is designed to facilitate a discussion on how we are not the same, although we maybe One in Jesus Christ.  Each of us has experienced a unique “Walk” as children growing up in our respective families and communities.  Each of us has arrived here today through a unique “Walk” or journey, and some more or less privileged than others.   
   
     
Today’s Context:  Our unique walk can shape our view of ourselves or others.  Although our past should no longer define us in Jesus Christ (for we are one at the foot of the cross…but we are not the same!), our past has influenced us and can influence us in our assumptions about persons who are similar and different.      

VALUING OUR DIVERSITY!  WE ARE…BECAUSE I AM!   

LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION HOW EACH OF US CAN REALIZE AND EXPRESS OUR FULL UNIQUENESS AS WE SIMULTANEOUSLY PURSUE OUR UNITY IN THE BODY OF CHRIST!                            

Summary:  God, in His infinite creativity, has designed each of us like no one else  that was…that is…or shall be.  God has designed each of us with unique gifts, abilities, experiences, and ministries.  As each of us are fully realized, equipped, and released in our unique ministries with other members, the Body of Christ will experience greater mobilization to address needs within our churches, ministries, and communities.    
   
     
Today’s Context:  Within the American Culture that focuses on independence and freedom, our pursuit of non-biblical individuality can lead to greater division instead of greater unity.      

  

VALUING OUR GENERATIONAL DIVERSITY…FOR THE COMMON GOOD!    

LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION HOW WE CAN TOGETHER ADDRESS AND EMBRACE OUR GENERATIONAL DIVERSITY…FOR THE COMMON GOOD OF THE BODY OF CHRIST.                            

Summary:  Jesus’ heart breaks over the division in His church caused by our generational differences.  There is nothing new under the sun! (Ecclesiastes 1:9)  Each generation has different cultural views, practices, and norms whether it is the grandparents’, parents’, or children’ generations.  The Millennials and Post-Millennials has changed the demographic landscape of our communities as well as our churches.     
   
     
Today’s Context:  Based on our music, worship styles, sermons, ministry priorities, church staff demographic make-up, and church resources priorities, are we seeking to love and serve all the generational diversity within our congregations and the communities that surround us?                

WHO IS MY NEIGHBOR? – VALUING ALL PEOPLE

LET’S HAVE A CONVERSATION ON WHO REALLY IS OUR NEIGHBOR, ACCORDING TO THE SCRIPTURES, AND HOW WE CAN HAVE A DEEPER AWARENESS, UNDERSTANDING, AND COMMITMENT TO LOVE, SERVE, AND VALUE ALL PEOPLE.                            

Summary:  As members of the Body of Christ, we are commanded to love our neighbor as ourselves, regardless of regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, social status, political view, gender, and other cultural differences.       
   
     
Today’s Context: We generally have a very narrow definition of who our “neighbor” is.