Cultivating Diversity at Your Church
Living in a Monocultural World?
What does it look like to grow in a personal journey of moving from a mainly monocultural life towards a lifestyle that is open to experiencing other cultures? Nikki Lerner, Culture Coach and Leader of the Multicultural Worship Leaders Network (MWLN) has this thoughtful advice, “If you look at your life, your friends, where you shop, live, and where you worship, if everybody looks like you, then that is a monocultural world. So, one of the first steps is to ask yourself, how can I diversify my life? What kinds of people are missing from my life? And the answer to that question might lead you to the next decision you make. If you take your dry cleaning to a particular place, for example, and the person who owns the store looks just like you, maybe decide to make a different choice and take your clothes to a different cleaner that might be of a different culture. Making changes like this in our everyday life are easy steps we all can do, and it starts to put us in proximity with people who don’t look like us.”
Better Understanding Cultural Come-from
Being open to the experiences of others and empathy can be a bridge in the healing of racial inequalities. Lerner discusses how a specific skillset that can break down walls of defensiveness as we all tackle difficult conversations. “We tend to be well-practiced at telling people what we believe and stand for,” says Lerner, “but we’re not always great at asking really good questions. Developing the skill of active listening is also about asking really good questions. When you hear something from a cultural or ethnic group that hasn’t had the same experience as you, a good question to ask is, ‘Can you tell me more?’ It’s a non-judgmental approach. You don’t have to share your opinion; all you’re doing is actively receiving what they’re saying. The second question to have in your arsenal is, ‘How does that make you feel?’ Those questions tap into the deepest part of who we are as human beings.”