The Color of Progress: The Need for the Development of Diverse Ministry Praxis

“The White establishment is now the minority.” These were the words that fell from the shockingly surprised and utterly stunned lips of noted conservative political pundit Bill O’Reilly  after witnessing the historic reelection of President Barack Obama for a second term. Our political process often bequeaths to us significant moments that are ripe for our theological inquiry. In this instance, the political realm and the theological space are in a symbiotic relationship. If O’Reilly’s analysis is correct, then an era that some may have feared and others have anticipated is now an undeniable reality. The question becomes how does the faith community remain relevant in a world that is rapidly growing more diverse?

If the only people in your immediate social group think like you, agree with you, act like you, walk you, talk you, you will find yourself stuck in a circle, and in a cycle of smallness and narrowness that new ideas and revelations of God are just too big to get in. We are often socialized to believe that our world view is not only the right one but the only one. And when our false sense of superiority is shattered, we are left with the daunting task of retrieving the broken pieces and making sense of a new existential experience. This fear of a changing landscape will ultimately minimize ministry motifs that need to emerge to engage the ever-evolving demographics. Capturing this idea it was Stanford University anthropologist H. Samy Alim who coined the phrase “demographic”. Demographia is the irrational fear of the changing demographics. As the world turns and transforms, a monolithic modality of theological shortsightedness is inadequate.

For religion to remain relevant and to be practically applied in our diverse society, it must be broad enough and inclusive enough to incorporate the “others” as equals within a ministry framework. With intentionality, we must seek not to just to proselytize but to partner. We must seek not to just teach but be taught. Our modes of ministry cannot come from one perspective alone but must emerge from a multiplicity of voices that address the cultural, sociological, racial, economic, and gender issues that make up the complexity of our society.

Read more: A family upbringing