A Pastor’s Thoughts on the Blessings of a Diverse Congregation

Derrick Shields, lead pastor at Christ Community Church in Columbus, Georgia, shares how his congregation’s diversity better prepares his congregants to support, encourage and learn from each other in turbulent times.

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Greetings. My name is Derrick Shields, and I have the pleasure of serving as lead pastor at Christ Community Church in Columbus, Georgia.

We here at Christ Community Church feel that we’ve taken the steps to ensure that we welcome everyone by having a clearly defined core value of unity and diversity, welcoming everyone that comes through the doors.

It’s just the richness of community that results from having a diverse congregation. You learn so much about different cultures, different spiritual backgrounds, different walks of life.

You know, our recent national conversation about racial justice has given us an opportunity to respond. You know, there are so many different viewpoints, opinions, on what we have seen and what the reaction and response has been, that it has proved to be difficult somewhat, but we take heart. Because we love each other, because we’re committed to being in fellowship with one another, we just know that we will be able to overcome the differences that have emerged.

I have hope in the future when it comes to any conversation about racial unity, because we are people who believe in the Scripture and you know, it is recorded by Paul in Ephesians 2:14 that through Jesus Christ, this wall of hostility has been broken down and that we are one in Christ. Knowing that and believing that and having fellow congregants who believe the same, you know, we all have hope that we will overcome any challenge that’s been put before us.

You know, I was raised in the church. My grandfather was a pastor, my parents devout Christians, and I can truthfully say that all of my childhood and early adult life, I was in a segregated church. I think that’s the norm for most people. We see that things are changing. We see more and more churches now becoming diverse and it is exciting change that we are seeing. It no longer has to be the norm that churches are segregated. And I think there is an earnest hunger for members of churches across America to reflect what the Kingdom of God will look like when we all arrive there.

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