I know “diversity” is a touchy subject, largely because so many leaders feel like it’s being forced on them in multiple ways in today’s culture. However, I’ve discovered that in most nonprofits, churches, and ministry organizations, we do need to be more intentional about making diversity happen.

I still see leadership meetings at churches where everyone in the room are white males, or others where everyone is a black male. That’s why we need to embrace the positive aspects of diversity – and the sooner the better.

Here’s a handful of random thoughts on your team’s diversity:

1. In a church, the faces the congregation sees on the stage matter. If all the faces are the same race, gender, or age, they often assume that’s who’s welcome in that church.

2. Diversity is more than a racial issue. If your church staff is older, you’re only getting part of the perspective you need. In the same way, if your staff is all young, perhaps you’re missing out on the perspective of experience. It’s the same with male and female, white or blue collar, and more.

3. Be more intentional about integrating the perspective of business professionals into your strategy. They may not be theologians, but churches also need solid advice from builders, financial experts, and high level leaders. Stop looking at your business leaders as simply ATM machines, and start learning from their experience.

It’s very easy to fall into building a team that looks, acts, and thinks like you. It’s human nature to spend time with old friends, or people with which we feel comfortable. But every kind of diversity matters, and to be a great leader, we need to integrate different thinking, experiences, and backgrounds into our teams.

When you do, you’ll learn insights that you’d never considered before.


Phil Cooke, Ph.D. is a producer and media consultant to churches and ministries across the country. His latest book is “The Way Back: How Christians Blew Their Credibility and How We Get It Back.” Find out more at www.philcooke.com.

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