5 Guidelines for Building a Racially and Culturally Diverse Church Staff

One of the best ways to communicate a goal of racial and cultural diversity is to have a diversified staff. Actions do speak louder than words. If leaders tell members they want the church to be integrated, but members do not see an effort to integrate the staff, such a claim will not be taken seriously. In addition to diversifying the staff, the lay leaders should reflect the cultural and racial profile of the congregation. With much prayer, patience, and intentionality, lay leaders should be carefully selected and mobilized into ministry. Let’s begin with hiring staff.

Pastors, search committees, or personnel committees have the responsibility to select complementary staff for a multicultural, multiracial congregation. This is no small task. In fact it is one of the most challenging responsibilities of leadership in intentionally integrated churches. The key is hiring people who share the multicultural, multiracial vision. Additionally, these leaders should show promise for producing leaders who can disciple others. Consider the following factors when searching for leaders.

1. Scriptural competence regarding race relations

It is essential to hire individuals who have a biblical understanding of how God sees people of all colors. Although this is relatively simple, the number of Christians who believe God is a respecter of people regarding race and culture is surprising. How does God want his people to get along? Why does God love everyone? What does God’s word teach about prejudice? Potential staff members should be able to answer these questions prior to getting the job.

2. Prior experience in multicultural, multiracial ministry

Many people have experience working in a diverse ministry context. These people are prime prospects for the staff. Some individuals of a particular race are willing to work in a context totally different from theirs. These people are rare, and most of them have already overcome many barriers to progress. Seek such people.

3. Former missionaries seeking to serve a church

Without exception, former missionaries are among the best people to serve in multicultural, multiracial contexts. Although they may exist, I have not met a missionary who did not have a genuine love for people regardless of their race, culture, or background. Get names of retired/former missionaries from your local associations and conventions. Some of these people desire either to work in the local church or to volunteer their services.

4. Students who express a calling to multicultural, multiracial ministry

Bible colleges and seminaries are full of students who feel called to serve in integrated churches. Although they may have little experience, they are wonderful candidates for training. Outstanding students whom we located at Bible colleges and seminaries have blessed our church. We posted flyers indicating our vision concerning multicultural, multiracial ministry, and we have reaped great dividends. Three of our former staff members now serve as pastors in various parts of the United States. God is working in the hearts of these students. He is breaking down barriers and calling us to oneness. Many students are not only interested in understanding racial and cultural harmony from a biblical perspective, but they also want to experience it in the life of the church.

5. Teachable Christians

An important qualification of a staff member is a teachable spirit. Integrated ministry is new to many people, and there is much to learn. Leaders who have paved the way are looking for people willing to listen and learn about how to serve in a diverse ministry context.

This post originally appeared in There’s More Than One Color in the Pew: A Handbook for Multicultural, Multiracial Churches by Tony Mathews.

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