As part of the National Outreach Convention blog tour, I thought I would share this article on the “Human Mosaic.”
For more on creating a diverse community, come to the NOC09 in San Diego and check out my workshop “Hindus, Homosexuals and the Hard to Reach: Evangelism in a Post-Christian World” or the pre-conference Origins Project event with me, Dan Kimball, and Marlon Hall.
Mosaic – a work of art created from broken, isolated pieces taken by an artist and joined together to create an extraordinary picture of beauty
Mosaic – a community of broken and fragmented people being made whole by the Master Artist and joined together to reflect the beauty of God
I love the name of our community. Mosaic is such a great way to describe who we are and who we are becoming.
A few years ago the Gallup organization decided to conduct a research experiment on our community. Known for their business consulting and polling, Gallup had been looking to study a company that was diverse from top to bottom. Rather than a company, they chose to study us since there was no dominant cultural group. The elders were a combination of Latinos and Asians, the paid staff were a mixture of various backgrounds including: Latin, Asian, African American, and Anglo. The volunteer staff was composed over 50 nationalities, and those attending represented an even wider range of backgrounds. The Gallup organization discovered that not only was Mosaic ethnically diverse, but Mosaic was socio-economically, politically, and even spiritually diverse.
How did this happen? How were we able to become so diverse in so many ways? Do we emphasize race relations or diversity each week? Do we change our message to accommodate all religious beliefs? As someone who moved from Seattle to Los Angeles in 1998 to volunteer at Mosaic, I feel I have discovered some of the “secrets” that have created this remarkably diverse community. Here are my discoveries:
Mosaic helps each person pursue their divine destiny. Each person is created with uniqueness and the capacity to make a difference in the world. We actively strive to empower, equip, and unleash the latent power, strengths, personality, and passions within those who desire to connect with Mosaic. Our backgrounds shape who we are. Some have tried to move towards seeing the world as “color blind.” This falls short since “color blindness” ignores an important part of a person’s identity. We should see beyond someone’s color to get to know the person, to love and serve the person, but to truly get to know a person we need to find out what being black, brown, or white is like rather than pretending we do not see what makes us unique.
Mosaic strives to be permeable. People can be different yet still find a place here. Living in Los Angeles County gives us the opportunity to love and serve over 10 million people from over 190 countries. We would almost have to try to remain homogenous in such a diverse place! Recent solutions for ethnic tension do not go far enough. Tolerance and racial reconciliation were a step in the right direction, but they did not get us to where we should be. We end up acknowledging another group has value, but we act as if their value is best appreciated from a distance. When we become tired of tolerating others, we should try loving them. To reach the world, we know we need everyone.
Mosaic actively seeks to create reconciled communities. We don’t talk about racial reconciliation, we try to live out reconciled lives. If we are honest, conflict doesn’t just take place among different ethnicities. Conflict takes place even among those who look the same and even among those who are related. Jesus showed us the path towards loving enemies and befriending those around us. Jesus shows us a way out of conflict and enmity – a way filled with peace, hope, and love.
At one of our Sunday gatherings, a man who was visiting noticed the diverse crowd and said, “If I believed in heaven, it would look like this.”
Diversity reveals God’s heart. Our world is more and more diverse. In fact, people are more diverse themselves. Rather than just a mixture of European cultures, Americans are a blend of Latino, African, Asian, Middle Eastern, and European – sometimes all in one person. The path to diversity begins with the mission of Jesus. When we choose to reach out and love all of those around us, we will experience a glimpse of heaven on earth.
How have you seen your community become more diverse?