I am fascinated by those who claim they can multitask. From my experience and observation doing more than one thing at a time rarely works out. The end result is either chaos or more work. There is one notable exception to my multitasking pessimism. That is the work of creating a space and culture where all are accepted, included, and empowered. In a world where power rules, creating a culture where everyone is included seems naïve.
Diverse work environments, schools, places of worship, and communities can sound good on paper, especially if those in power get to define the extent of the diversity. For example, many people equate diversity and race while conveniently ignoring the other forms of diversity - theology, socioeconomic class, age, sexual orientation, nationality, and gender. I am not at any level diminishing the importance of racial diversity, but to only categorize each other by skin color seems a bit one dimensional. It should be obvious, but we are all more than the color of our skin. We are male and female; married with children, married without children, and single; homeowners, renters, couch surfers, and homeless; straight and gay; Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, and atheist; white collar and blue collar; urban, suburban, and rural people.
When it comes to diversity, a person who focuses on only one aspect runs the risk of ending up with an incomplete and potentially twisted understanding of the kingdom of God. The implications of moving towards a vision of the world that is authentically diverse are real. Leadership both in the church and outside will have to become less white, less male, less straight, less privileged, and maybe less “Christian” – at least in the traditional sense. For this to happen the church and world will need leaders who are skilled diversity multitaskers.
As a child I remember more than one preacher stating that it was better to live as a Christian and find out it was all a mistake than to live as an unbeliever and find out the God was real. Today I want to rewrite this a bit. I would rather live assuming that all people are created in the image of God and find out I was wrong than to live judgmentally and find out that God chose grace over exclusion.
For too long, people of faith have developed elaborate excuses for filtering people out of Christian community. Some in the church have become skilled at using Scripture to defend their holy exclusions and prejudices. Too often people of faith have hidden behind words like “distinctives” or “confessions of faith” to justify this segregation. It is almost ironic that finding ways to include everyone is the controversial path.