“What does diversity even mean?” she said. Perhaps you are wondering about the same thing, said to me by someone who I was meeting for the first time. We shared small talk, as is often typical during a first meeting, including what we did for work. I shared that I was the Hillsong Church Race Diversity and Inclusion Manager.
My simple definition is that diversity is the collective pieces of all of us. Diversity is not just a certain group of people nor a certain type of difference. Notice the use of the word “all” in my definition. Diversity involves all of us. Diversity embraces all our differences. Diversity includes all of us. Diversity includes every person of every skin colour, and of every race, and of every ethnicity. Consider, that racial diversity is a beautiful aspect of humanity intentionally created by the God of the Universe! Consider, how our collective racial diversity shows off who our Creator God is! Consider, how our collective racial diversity reveals to us different parts of who our God is!
Have you ever looked at a colourful mosaic? A mosaic is a beautiful piece of art that has many different small parts coming together to make one. Each part on its own is very colourful, highly unique, and could stand alone if need be. But the pieces on their own are not as magnificent as when they come together. All the pieces in a mosaic are better together. When the pieces are together, the beauty and brilliance increase significantly. This is true for our racial and cultural diversity. In fact, it is only when we all come together, every race and every culture and every ethnicity, that we fully reflect our Creator God.
To help deepen our understanding, I invited a couple of my friends into the conversation.
The first person I talked with, is Jona Ombao-Appadu, the Hillsong Canada RDEI Oversight. She shared how diversity simply means differences – visible such as appearance and invisible such as perspectives. She shared 1 Corinthians 12, believing for these verses to celebrate every person and the value they bring to build our church locally and globally. In 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 (NIV) it says:
“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles.”
This is beautiful, as is what my friend Mojo Lephoto, a Campus Pastor from Hillsong South Africa shared. He shared how diversity is a marker of true fellowship (koinonia) as the gospel is an invitation to all to come and have a seat at the table and to share in all things while we worship Jesus together. He believes this is demonstrated beautifully in the Bible, in the book of Acts. He loves the picture painted in Acts 2, when the Holy Spirit fell. Specifically, how all who heard those in the upper room, heard them speaking in a language that was native to that individual. In Acts 2: 5-11 it says (NIV):
“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken. Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”
These scriptures, and many others, remind us that the gospel is an invitation to all people, of every race, and every culture, and every ethnicity. To come together as one body. To come with our collective diversity as God’s beloved church. These scriptures are beautiful pictures of all our collective diversity. Our collective racial diversity is this beautiful thing that was never meant by our Heavenly Father to divide us, but instead to unite us.
Written by: Maria Hansen-Quine, LASW, MSW, CSC
Hillsong Global Race Diversity and Inclusion Manager