Division vs. Diversity in the Church


DiversityI’ve been thinking about my post of 5 days ago regarding division in the church and feel the need to clarify something. Unity in the church does not equate to uniformity. We should not all look the same inside the church because the people in the culture around us are not all the same. Within the bounds of correct belief and practice is the opportunity for diversity.

I understand that diversity has become almost a technical term for support of LGBT rights, but I will use the word anyway.

Dictionary.com defines diversity this way:

  • the state or fact of being diverse; difference; unlikeness: diversity of opinion.
  • variety; multiformity.
  • a point of difference.

We do not all like the same kind of music, a particular preaching style will appeal to some and not others. Some enjoy the opportunities that large congregations provide and some like small gatherings. Some like liturgy and others are put off by it. You get the idea, there is room for the exercise of preference within the church. We should embrace diversity.

Diversity in the church is a good thing, we are to make the gospel understandable to all people. We need to be diverse in our approach to the culture around us.

So, the traditional church should not be smug about its adherence to tradition. The church that exercises freedom in worship should not feel itself superior to the “stuffy” churches around them.

The Apostle Paul addressed this in the Corinthian Church. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul takes them to task for allowing the use of the gifts of the spirit to cause division in the church. It was wrong then and it remains so now. Read 1 Corinthians 12-14 to understand Paul’s response to the Corinthian Church.

I worship at a church that does not place high value on liturgy and tradition. But that should not prevent us from working with churches in the area that are big on tradition. If we are united in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our diversity in expression should not cause animosity between us.

We should be able to work together to bring the Gospel to our community in its various expressions. We should be able to give opportunity to draw people to Christ in a worship style that is appealing to them. Again I turn to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians where Paul states:

“To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:20–23, ESV)

The point is that we should allow for diversity of expression so that we can present the message of Jesus Christ to the culture around us. We can be unified in our message of the Gospel while being diverse in our expression.

Diversity is a good thing.