I had a conversation with someone the other day at “the Vine” about diversity and seeking diversity. At “the Vine,” we’re in the process of planting/reviving 2 missional communities and I argued that one of these contexts – Hyde Park – had to be the most diverse place in the Midwest. She said no, that a different place – Waukegan – was. We were working with two different concepts of diversity.
The actual demographics of each place can be debated. But I argued numerically that Hyde Park was more diverse because its inhabitants included a wide range of ethnicities (white people are probably in the minority here), a wide range of economic classes (from wealthy to poor across all ethnic spectrums), and a wide range in levels of education (from the intellectual elites of Univ. of Chicago to the under educated poor of the Chicago public schools system). I said as far multiple kinds of diversity, Hyde Park had to be the most diverse place in the Midwest.
My friend said Waukegan is more diverse than Hyde Parke. What she meant when was that Waukegan is a place which is more “not us.” We are middle class suburban (majority) white people with the comforts of education, stable families, homes and jobs. Waukegan is more on the “margins,” people who are struggling for all those things. When I said Hyde Park is more diverse, I was referring to the makeup internal to that community, and its broad differences within one community. When my friend said Waukegan was more diverse, she was saying Waukegan was more “other” than us: diversity as a function of a relation external to us.
As we plant communities what are the opportunities and pitfalls of each? Which diversity should we seek to plant in? Diversity a.) or Diversity b.)? What different things should we consider in terms of God’s redemptive purposes in each? Which diversity should we seek as the most appropriate context for a church like ours to seek to inhabit?
I think these are important questions. There are opportunities and pitfalls in both...