People often ask what we are about. Our go to answer is : Restore Church exists to foster Authentic Faith, Diverse Community, and Radical Generosity.
We sum it up: believe connect serve.
Today I want to talk about diversity and community. What should the church community look like? How is diversity expressed in different contexts?
Diversity is so much more than skin deep. When we moved to Portsmouth, we knew we were moving to an area of the 757 where Casie and I would be in the minority as caucasians. That was deliberate. We wanted to live in an area that reflects where the culture is headed. Caucasians will be a minority in the entire country by 2044 (caucasians have been a minority in the world since like... forever?) When we say we want to have a church that's diverse, people assume that just means we're trying to reach black people and white people. Yes, we want to reach people who don't look alike, but we also want to reach people from different educational backgrounds, income levels, cultural preferences and lifestyles. We can fool ourselves into thinking we are diverse and still have a church filled with people who don't look alike, but share the same cultural preferences, income and lifestyle. Our goal is to be a church that's open to everyone from every type of culture, experience and background.
Diversity gets messy. In the NT diversity often led to conflict. The same is true today. When cultures collide, feelings get hurt. This week I've noticed a sharp divide in our people's approach on Facebook to the Syrian refugee crisis. I'm glad we don't all think the same. My job is to make sure we can disagree in love and learn from our brother or sister's perspective. That's not easy. That's diversity. Learning to worship in an environment where the music isn't always my preference can be trying, but that's part of putting my preferences aside for the greater good of the body of Christ. I like to tell the team, "Get used to being uncomfortable. Too often we shy away from it, but when you're uncomfortable it might be God is using that song, message, moment in the service to speak to someone who is coming to church from a completely different background."
Diversity was the secret sauce of the early church. It was the first place that everyone was welcomed and loved regardless of race, background, social status etc. People longed to be with each other, and the gospel brought them together. I believe more than any other generation the millennial generation wants to be surrounded by people from every walk of life. We see the benefits of knowing blue collar and white collar workers personally and deeply. We understand that we grow when our ideas are challenged by our peers from a different setting. The church reaches the most people when it's open to all people. I know every church would say it's open to all. However, at Restore we take certain steps to ensure people get that we are about diversity. We strive to have leaders in every area that reflect the diversity of our community. We refuse to allow our decisions to be based on one group of people. We make sure all of our people know that this is Jesus' church and He longs for it to reflect His love for the community, not our preferences or style.
I'll speak this weekend about diversity in community at Restore at 5PM.
See you there