Kellum Hall – the dormitory may not have looked like much more than crumbled brick and mortar, but in my college days it was a singular Florida State specimen. It was demolished last year in preparation for the construction of a new building. I drove past the site many times, mesmerized by the amount of preparation, money, and time it took just to tear something down. It reminded me of the worldviews we’ve built for ourselves, worldviews that we ourselves must tear down.
Recently, I had a meeting with someone who wanted to talk to me about racial reconciliation. These conversations happen quite often. People view me – a black man pastoring a diverse church ministry – as a rarity. “How do you do it?” they ask, “What’s the magic formula?”
What I’ve realized, however, is that often times these people don’t want to change. They’re willing to sacrifice, but only a little. What they’re not willing to do is blow up their congregations, blow up their mindsets and worldview, and blow up their entire lives.
They are not willing to demolish before the construction.
It’s interesting – I notice this attitude on both sides of the aisle. Those who are black tend to be more upfront about it; they want to welcome white people into their churches and communities, yes, but they want them to just appreciate their culture. White individuals, on the other hand, are less forward. Claiming diversity, they would prefer others to simply morph into their world.
Those of us who are desperate for diversity, desperate to bring heaven to Earth, must cast off these notions of comfort.
It will cost you. Jesus says it very clearly: “Don’t begin until you count the cost” (New Living Translation, Luke 14:28a). Just as it took countless hours, numerous workers, and millions of dollars to demolish that old dorm, it will cost you to tear down your worldview and mindsets. It may cost you friendships and influence. It may cost you the size of your ministry. It may even cost you others’ ability to understand you, their willingness to listen to you, or their trust. It might even cost you your life, as it has cost many before.
Will you count the cost?
There are mindsets we don’t even realize we’ve built until we come face-to-face with their walls; I believe this is a gospel issue. So before we can begin the re-construction we must first demolish. Tear out everything you think you know about diverse communities and allow Jesus to fill your expectations. Allow Him to teach you what diversity looks like. If you truly want to build, you must be willing to start from the very bottom. Take that stick of dynamite, and blow it up.