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  • Writer's pictureKeith Haney

Building a True Authentic Community

In my last post "What we are missing with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion", I talked about how the Church could navigate its way in the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion space for a brief recap: Diversity is simply being invited to the party. Ask yourself, your leadership team, and your evangelism committee this question. How are we inviting people different from ourselves to the party? This is a question Jesus asks us to do as a part of our mission.

Inclusion is once invited to a party; you are included only if someone invites you to dance. In a meeting with that same group of leaders, ask yourself how you ensure the people you bring to attend the party are not just sitting on the sidelines watching you have all the fun.

Equity is even if I invite you to the party and ask you to dance, I must teach you the moves.

Here is the new wrinkle. An authentic community is not about the newcomers making all the adjustments. That is often my issue with DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) in corporate settings. Christian community is about us, who are insiders being willing and open to learn some new dance moves from those who are new to our community. It is about understanding and incorporating their culture and traditions into our unique and diverse community. It's also learning another's activities; being willing to attend their parties. Let me explain. When building a community, a shared belief, a common confession unites us, and we help each other live out that belief, and that confession. It is walking together in faith the Church carries out the mission Jesus gave this new community. How we live out that belief allows us to bring individuality and gifts that others don't have. Those gifts will reach people in ways other gifts won't. If we force conformity, we lose the beauty of individuality. The Apostle Paul reminds us the importance of those gifts to carry out the work of the Church.

4 There are different spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; 5 and there are different ministries and the same Lord; 6 and there are different activities but the same God who produces all of them in everyone. 7 A demonstration of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good. 8 A word of wisdom is given by the Spirit to one person, a word of knowledge to another according to the same Spirit, 9 faith to still another by the same Spirit, gifts of healing to another in the one Spirit, 10 performance of miracles to another, prophecy to another, the ability to tell spirits apart to another, different kinds of tongues[a] to another, and the interpretation of the tongues to another. 11 All these things are produced by the one and same Spirit who gives what he wants to each person. 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

The Great Commission is the place where the Church builds authentic community.

16 Now, the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. 18 Jesus came near and spoke to them, "I've received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I've commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age. Matthew 28:16-20

Before Jesus ascended to heaven, he gathered his disciples. He instructed them to continue discipleship relationships to further his message. Jesus' life, death, and resurrection goal was to redeem a lost and dying world. How was this supposed to be accomplished? Through Christian community.

Jesus provided the model for discipleship relationships: intentional fellowship, daily life together, and individualized teaching. The disciples knew Jesus because they actually lived with him, watched him teach, got to ask him questions, and were privy to all parts of his life.

As we invite the nations to the party, the Church community, we carry out Jesus' mission as described in Acts Rather, you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Acts 1:8

What a beautiful opportunity we have to share a message of hope in a world and nation deeply divided.

39 views2 comments


Sarah Baughman
Sarah Baughman
Aug 14, 2023

Your statement about creating space for newcomers to influence the party was great -- something that should be an "of course we'd do that", but I honestly hadn't considered before. I'd like to think that at least some people do that instinctually, but intentionality about something so important to building community would be better than trusting our instincts -- flawed as they often are!

Keith Haney
Keith Haney
Aug 14, 2023
Replying to

Hi Sarah,

I love the fact that you share your thoughts on the blog posts. I never thought about how you include people until I was a parish pastor in Detroit and saw how hard it was for new members to feel included. It was then I started focusing on assimilation as we called it back then.

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