Embracing Diversity: 3 Tips for Leading Diverse Groups

For small group point people, the line, we’re better together, is not a catchy tagline, it is a core value of small group ministry. How you apply that core value is different in each of your communities. For some, applying the idea of doing life together means finding people like you, those who look like you, talk like you, act like you or think like you. While that type of thinking is comfortable and low risk, it does not sound like the teachings of Jesus. Jesus embraced diversity, and one of the best examples that Scripture provided was highlighted in John 4:1-24. Here are three tips that the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman can teach you about embracing diversity in your groups:

#1. Know Your Culture – Everyone who joins a multi-ministry team or group brings their culture with them. To embrace diversity, it is crucial that a leader understand the culture that they bring to the group. Your culture can lead you to embrace specific bias that could create a barrier in developing relationships with people from different cultures. Jesus adapted to the culture around Him, but He also transcended the cultural norms of the time. As evidenced in His encounter with the Samaritan woman, Jesus desired diversity in His mission.

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#2. Embrace Your Similarities – We all get thirsty in the heat of the day! Leaders should not ignore their cultural differences, but you build a foundation on your similarities. Jesus began the conversation with the Samaritan woman with a practical need; a need that she understood, the need for water in the heat of the day (John 4:6-7). The differences between the Samaritan woman and Jesus was more than cultural diversity! The Samaritan woman was considered an outcast in her own culture. Jesus knew that and eventually discussed her sin, but first, he talked about something they both could understand, a cold drink on a hot day.

#3. Inspire Community – Jesus had created an environment of trust with the Samaritan woman. While He did not show approval for her living situation, He still accepted her and revealed that He cared for her eternal salvation. After establishing trust, Jesus provided a mutual goal, a goal that transcended cultural barriers. The vision of a time when she would worship the Father, at any location, true worship, both in Spirit and in truth (John 4:21-24). The Samaritan woman moved from a confused outcast to a teammate of Jesus. Jesus, as her leader, gave her hope and direction. Jesus provided a blueprint to embrace diversity in this passage. He displayed the importance of obedience to His Father’s work, transcendence of cultural barriers, building the community of trust, and creating a mutual goal worth following.

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