A couple of months ago, one of my neighbors had a party. Frequently when someone has a party in our neighborhood, all of the available street parking fills up, and this one was pretty typical – with one exception. There was a certain sameness about the vehicles. Here’s what the street looked like:
It seems that everyone attending had some kind of full-size white pickup truck.
I wasn’t invited to the party so I didn’t get to see who attended, but I wonder if anyone noticed the “sameness.” Or did they just feel “comfortable.” There can be a sense of “instant affinity” for people who have a lot in common. I’ve been to churches where the cars in the parking lot are as similar as these trucks. One church had pretty much only white, married Republican couples with children under 16. The parking lot was full of silver SUVs. Did they notice?
That level of lack of diversity might be OK for someone’s party, but if the church, business, or nonprofit has that level of homogeneity, it’s really missing out.
A few problems that result from a lack of diversity:
- Limited vision
- Limited empathy
- Tendency toward tunnel vision
- Difficulty reaching much / most of the community
- Limited growth potential
Next week, I’m planning to post the first in a series of posts called Developing Diversity. As a middle-class white male, I have the opportunity to hear the reasons people give for resisting diversity. As a pastor, I’ve also had the opportunity to talk to many people who have been excluded – whether intentionally or unintentionally – from churches, businesses, and other groups.
I’m planning to share some of what I’ve learned, and I hope you’ll share your experience as well. If you think I’m off-base, I hope you’ll post a comment so we can all learn! If you have particular concerns or challenges, post those too so I can address them in the weeks to come.