McKinsey and Company discovered that ethnically diverse companies outperformed their counterparts by 35%. Since diverse leadership teams produce better results and there is “neither Jew nor Gentile…for you are one in Christ” (Gal 3:28), churches should have the most diverse leadership teams on the planet!
However, our practice belies our beliefs. If theology and pragmatic reality align, why are churches often the least diverse places on the planet? Churches like to be comfortable and diversity is hard! Working with people like you is hard enough; working with people unlike you is far more difficult. However, our merger has created a perfect opportunity to build diverse leadership teams. As enumerated earlier, our Annual Meeting this Sunday at 1:30 p.m. will seek to affirm (1) a name, (2) simple structures, (3) a trusted and diverse leadership team, (4) to build on the past as we move into the future, and (5) to step out in scary and risky faith. Why do we desire a trusted and diverse leadership team?
First, our leadership team must be trusted. We should not be “hasty in the laying on of hands” (1 Tim 5:22), but the character of leaders must be above reproach (1 Tim 3:1–13). When you read the qualifications for elders and deacons in the epistles, it is surprising how little is made of gifting and how much is made of character. Sometimes when you get in a position of leadership and see what goes on behind the scenes, you can get disillusioned by the character of those making decisions. However, one of our elders recently commented that his experience in our church has proven the exact opposite, as his work behind the scenes has grown his respect of our leadership. As we elect elders and deacons at our upcoming Annual Meeting, it is imperative that their character be godly and trustworthy. Elders and Governing Board members constitute the highest authority in the church, and Deacons distribute funds to serve the needy in our midst.
Secondly, leadership should be diverse. Jesus’ Jewish disciples ranged from tax collectors colluding with Rome to Zealots overthrowing Rome! The church in Antioch (Acts 13:1) was led by Africans (Niger), Jews (Barnabas) and Herodians (Manaen). The desire for diversity never trumps the need for trustworthy leadership, but a diverse group of trusted leaders is powerful for the kingdom. Antioch became an epicenter church of missionary activity, propelling Paul and Barnabas as the first missionaries to the Gentiles.
Already, we have been building trusted and diverse leadership teams. The diversity on our teams can impede efficiency, as more time is needed for communication. However, this diversity has brought fruit. Our Governing Board, Naming Task Force, Merger Task Force and Nominating Committee have intentionally included members of all three congregations, and the quality of the work attests to the strength of their members.
Moving forward, our Nominating Committee has worked hard to screen, interview and nominate members of the congregation to serve as Elders, Governing Board members and Deacons. Their results have already been sent to the members. They have assembled a slate of trusted and diverse leaders to serve us in the next season of our church. Members will have an opportunity to vote. Please remember that in a church, voting is not an expression of democracy but discernment, not an affirmation of popularity but purity. We are asking that you pray and consider whether those that have been nominated fulfill the criteria as expressed in 1 Tim 3:1–13. May the Lord use this Annual Meeting to elect a trusted and diverse leadership team to serve us in the next season of our life as a church.