A lot has changed in churches throughout the years, but if you walk into most churches on their day of worship, you’ll see they bear an uncanny resemblance to churches decades ago — a church comfortable with its own music in its own part of town and with its own people.

Though diversity is a trending topic among churches these days, it can be quite messy since many of us aren’t quite sure what the first step is to increase diversity among our congregation and staff. It’s not until we start the conversation that we realize just how separated the church truly is.

In today’s episode of the Think Orange Podcast, we’ll hear from Reggie Joiner, Virginia Ward, Kara Powell, and Sam Collier about how to intentionally pursue diversity to help advance God’s kingdom.

Where To Listen:  iTunes  |  Google Play  |  Stitcher  |  SoundCloud

Topic Timeline

Dave introduces today’s guests, Reggie Joiner, founder and CEO at Orange; Virginia Ward, director of leadership and mentored ministries at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and associate pastor at Abundant Life Church; and Kara Powell, executive director at the Fuller Youth Institute and faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary (1:33)

Dave also introduces Sam Collier, director of city strategy at Orange, who will also discuss today’s podcast topic (3:23)

Reggie introduces Virginia and Kara, who will talk about multiethnic relationships and what that means (6:30)

Virginia shares what is changing in today’s church (8:00)

The global church has become more than just black and white (8:18)

Virginia shares what it was like growing up in the African-American church (9:50)

Kara says young people are on the cutting edge of the multicultural experience (10:50)

What does the church need to be and do? (11:10)

The church needs to have a better understanding of what ethnicities are. Everyone has an ethnicity, not just people of color. (11:33)

If the church can’t talk about race and ethnicity in a John 17 way, there’s a problem, Virginia says (12:25)

Reggie shares how our churches are beginning to look differently than they did 20 and 30 years ago (13:31)

Kara talks about her church in Pasadena and how student ministry became a turning point for her church in becoming more ethnically diverse (14:28)

Student leaders can be a great place to start to help churches be more inclusive (15:02)

How do those who don’t live in an ethnically diverse area start a conversation about racial diversity? (15:54)

Virginia prays, asking God to increase diversity conversations around the globe (17:34)

Dave introduces Sam Collier (18:23)

Sam talks about his role at Orange (19:10)

Dave and Sam define what ‘multicultural’ is (20:59)

Sam says you know your church is diverse if it looks like the public school that’s closest to it (21:57)

Churches tend to stay within their comfort zones (22:28)

Sam gives advice to local leaders who want to reach other cultures (23:03)

Sam shares his experience attending a predominantly black church in the past (24:18)

Sam talks about the first time he visited Buckhead Church (24:56)

Empathy is the bridge to connection and to reaching out to people who are not like you (26:41)

Create a safe place to make mistakes (30:11)

How do you start to connect with people you don’t usually hang around? (30:39)

Sam shares some practical ways to invite someone new to the table (31:20)

How to have relationships and it not feel too forced or strategic (32:47)

Comfort is the enemy of innovation (35:42)

If we all get uncomfortable for the sake of the gospel, we’ll see this world come together like never before (36:17)

Dave shares how kids are much more open to people different from them (36:35)

Dave talks about how to start conversations with people different from us (37:48)

It’s hard to pursue diversity if you haven’t done your own work within yourself (39:37)

Sam and Dave talk about why the church is lagging behind in diversity (41:25)

How can church leaders catch up with culture? (43:40)

If we can come together, we can take the mission of the church further and faster (44:25)

God’s kingdom is multicultural (45:41)

Sam talks about where to learn more about City Strategy (46:00)

Dave and podcast producer, Kevin Jennings, share their final thoughts on the podcast topic (47:36)

People, Places & Helpful Resources

Featured Guests

Reggie Joiner

REGGIE JOINER

Reggie is founder and CEO of Orange (The reThink Group). He has co-written three parenting books, Don’t Miss ItPlaying for Keeps and Parenting Beyond Your Capacity as well as other leadership books including A New Kind of Leader and Think Orange. Reggie lives in Georgia with his wife, Debbie, and has four grown children, Reggie Paul, Hannah, Sarah, and Rebekah.

Duffy Robbins

SAM COLLIER

Sam is a communicator, author and personality. He’s the host of Nationally Syndicated Radio Show “The Sam Collier Show”, Gospel Billboard Producer, Director of City Strategy for The reThink Group, Communicator (North Point Ministries) and Founder of No Losing, Inc.

Duffy Robbins

VIRGINIA WARD

Virginia is the Director of Leadership and Mentored Ministries at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, Boston Campus, where she teaches classes in urban youth ministry, leadership, and directs mentored ministries. Virginia served as the first full-time Youth Pastor of the Abundant Life Church. She also served as the Director of Black Campus Ministries (BCM), New England for Intervarsity, a campus-based organization that seeks to build spiritual communities of students and faculty. She is the wife of 32 years of Bishop Lawrence Ward, Pastor of the Abundant Life Church in Cambridge, MA., and the mother of two adult sons, Paul and Mark.

Reggie Joiner

KARA POWELL

Kara Powell is the Executive Director of the Fuller Youth Institute (FYI) and a faculty member at Fuller Theological Seminary. Named by Christianity Today as one of “50 Women You Should Know,” Kara serves as a Youth and Family Strategist for Orange, and also speaks regularly at parenting and leadership conferences. Kara is the author or coauthor of a number of books, including Growing YoungThe Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, Sticky Faith Curriculum, Can I Ask That?, Deep Justice Journeys, Essential Leadership, Deep Justice in a Broken World, Deep Ministry in a Shallow World, and the Good Sex Youth Ministry Curriculum. 

Quotes from This Episode

Ideas to Influence the Next Generation

Pursue others to learn more about other cultures.

Be bold enough to form new relationships and talk about new topics with people different from you.

Create a safe place to make mistakes.

Help people feel safe and comfortable talking about uncomfortable topics.

Start a conversation about racial diversity.

The more conversation, the faster diversity will increase and the faster the gospel will spread.

Conversation Starters For Your Church

What does it mean for our church to be “For our neighbors?” How do we go about inviting more people to our table to sit and have meaningful conversations with us?

How can we start having a conversation about racial diversity in our church?

What relationships do we already have that can be deepened to expand our awareness of different cultures from our own?

Your Hosts

Dave Adamson, The Think Orange Podcast Host

DAVE ADAMSON

When he’s not working as a pastor at North Point Ministries in Atlanta, Dave is usually making his family cross their arms, roll their eyes, and tap their feet while he takes “just one more quick photo” on family outings. You’ll also often find him up to his neck in “Jewish stuff” as he researches the cultural context of Jesus for his daily Instagram devotions. Learn more about Dave at daveadamson.tv.

Ashley Bohinc, The Think Orange Podcast Host

ASHLEY BOHINC

Ashley serves as the Director of Middle School Strategy at Orange and the USA Director of Carry 117. She has worked with students in public education, athletic and ministry settings for the last 12 years. She is most passionate about resourcing the local church, communicating on stage, developing leaders, working with students and world missions. In her downtime, you’ll find her watching Friends, cheering on the Cleveland Cavaliers, traveling, reading, or on one of her Fairytale Friday Adventures.

Join Us Next Week

Thank you for listening to the Think Orange Podcast.

We hope you’ll join us for next week’s episode. More importantly, we hope that when you think next generation, you think Orange.