Possible Steps to Positive Shifts

Dive into Diversity, Photo by Matthew de Livera on Unsplash

Sacred Agents

Diving Into Diversity

In this Sacred Agents blog, Crossover Director Andrew Turner explores how we can shift demographics by diving Into diversity.

My father always enjoys belting out Amazing Grace in church, not least because he likes to tweak the second line to “…that saved a wretch like TREVOR SMITH” (or some other friend within earshot). God’s grace for people like you and me (and Dad) is truly amazing. Amazing too is his grace for people who are unlike you and me.

As such, God’s Spirit is often prompting and challenging us to see a greater diversity in our churches and groups. How often have you said or heard, ‘It would be great to have more [insert demographic] people here’, referring to a missing segment that might be generational, racial, economic, intellectual, or something else in nature.

It just doesn’t seem right for God’s family to be segregated, so we want to listen to those nudges of the Spirit. But what to do about them?

Possible Steps

There’s a whole range of possible steps, and let’s put them along an imaginary spectrum:

Down one end would be practical and immediate actions, such as going straight to the people you’d love to have with you and simply inviting them. Thoughtful arrangements to make space for them would be down that end too.

At the other end of the spectrum are deep, underlying heart issues and systemic norms that may need to be addressed. These might include raising awareness, prayers of repentance, symbolic steps towards reconciliation, and contemplating your way through a heap of books and conferences.

The trouble is, where to start? If you start at the first end, you hope to solve the issue within a fortnight. But your efforts may quickly be stymied by the systemic and underlying stuff. “We saw that we were missing young people, so we invited them, they didn’t come, so I guess we can say we tried.”

But if you start at the other end, you can feel that any real progress will take 100 years. And you can take 100 years of talking and praying and thinking about the people you’re missing, and wondering whether your group is even a thing that would be good for them, and even whether your group should exist at all.

It means well at first, but it can become busy work that is essentially procrastination which perpetuates the status quo. You are always inching closer to, but conveniently never achieving the aim. “We can always say that we’re taking steps.”

So what do we do?

How can we make real progress to see the body of Christ actually come together more fully? I suggest starting at both ends at the same time. Each will serve the other. The practical end will bring to light what underlying work is (and what isn’t) necessary, and the underlying work will shape the practical actions to be less and less clumsy and more and more wholehearted.

May the Spirit give us all the wisdom, humility and love we need – and also all the shrewdness, daring and energy of faith – to be effective agents of reconciliation as the body of Christ builds itself up in love.

Andrew Turner is the director of Crossover, and author of the Sacred Agents blog

Andrew Turner is Director of Crossover for Australian Baptist Ministries.

Crossover exists to Help Australian Baptists Share Jesus.
Browse all our resources on crossover.org.au

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Diving Into Diversity

Progress at City Baptist (Launceston)

City Baptist sells, 2021
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community engagement:

City have Signed to Sell

The progress at City Baptist is monumental! They signed a contract to sell the property in early September. There will be an eight-to-twelve month period of settlement.

The leadership is finalising the criteria needed for a new property and the market is being closely followed.

Anthea Maynard and Jenna Blackwell meet weekly with Jeff McKinnon to ‘dream’ and pray what the Makeover of City could potentially entail as we seek to be an intergenerational faith community culturally appropriate for young adults.

Jeff, Jenna, Anthea
Jeff McKinnon, Jenna Blackwell, Anthea Maynard

Street Community

The church and the city were rocked by the tragic accidental death of street person who lived on our property.  

Stephen Avery

150 people attended Daniel Tommerup’s memorial service at City Baptist. Street chaplain, Stephen Avery (pictured) continues to play a crucial role amongst some of the most vulnerable people in Launceston.

Kay Hunter is heading up an attempt to increase desperately needed accommodation for women and children fleeing domestic violence.

Hazara Gardens

A slideshow is shown, below, on the development of extensive vegetable gardens by City Baptist Church, Launceston, since 2018.

These gardens are primarily for the Hazara people, Muslim refugees originally from Afghanistan.

This project is only possible because of volunteers from the church, coordinated by Sally Staley;  a setting-up grant from Baptcare; and in partnership with the Worldview Centre at St Leonards.

Jeff McKinnon, Pastor City Baptist (Launceston)

  • Child digging: Progress at City Baptist (Launceston)
  • Garden beds:  Progress at City Baptist (Launceston)
  • Buidling greenhouse:  Progress at City Baptist (Launceston)
  • Inside greenhouse:  Progress at City Baptist (Launceston)
  • Working in greenhouse:  Progress at City Baptist (Launceston)
  • Sandpit:  Progress at City Baptist (Launceston)
  • Shed play area:  Progress at City Baptist (Launceston)
  • Having a break at the Hazara Gardens:  Progress at City Baptist (Launceston)