Diversity is a high value for us at Duluth Vineyard. Without the value of diversity in us and in our community, we will miss one of the greatest of Kingdom truths – that God loves people who are men, women, and children, from every race and nation, and in every stage of life. Everyone one of them is made in His image!
The Kingdom of God is not an old boy’s or girl’s club. It is not just for young people, nor is it just for old people, male people, female people, people with our skin color, or people who speak our language. The Kingdom of God is for everyone.
We desire to see men and women, children and youth, people from many ethnic backgrounds, and people of many languages sharing the Gospel, discipling, training leaders, and loving people into wholeness in Christ!
That is how the Kingdom of God has advanced through history, and how the Church has grown throughout time. When Paul was told in a dream to go to Macedonia in Acts 16, he was being called by God to risk loving others who were not in his immediate, familiar environment. Diversity matters to God, and He calls us out of our comfort zones to become a part of another’s story.
Does it matter if we are a diverse community? At times, the Church has seemed to think that it doesn’t matter. At these times, we have been lulled into thinking that it is probably fine if churches are just full of people who think, act, and look the same. Certainly churches might grow a bit faster this way – if they simply target the people they know how to reach.
However, if we really want to grow Jesus’ Church then we know, deep down, this kind of attitude is simply not okay. We must remember that the Kingdom is more important than the Church, and that healthy churches are committed to the Kingdom advancing above their own agendas. To advance God’s Kingdom calls us to enter the story of those with whom we would not normally associate.
Jesus didn’t just command his disciples to reach people who were already a part of their tribe – he called them to Jerusalem, to Judea, to Samaria, and to the ends of the earth! At the birth of the Church, when the Spirit was poured out (Acts 2), God gave gifts to people enabling them to speak of His wonders in many different languages. In John’s vision of the fulfillment of the Kingdom in the heavenly throne room (Rev. 4), there are multitudes from every tribe and nation.
We desire and pray to become a diverse community of hope that realizes the power of the cross to reconcile what has been separated by sin. This requires that we move beyond our personal preferences and engage those whom we perceive to be unlike us. We must actively work to break down barriers of race, culture, gender, social class, and ethnicity. We are convinced that the church—locally, nationally, and globally—is meant to be a diverse community precisely because Jesus is Lord over every nation, tribe, and tongue.