Episode 150: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion: Building a Ministry Where People Feel Like They Belong

On this episode we discuss practical approaches to diversity, equity, and inclusion in ministry. We’ll cover things like story-telling, understanding the difference between being welcome and feeling like you belong, and creating systems to ensure everyone has a seat at the table.


  • Diversity, equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are something many of us hadn’t spent much time thinking about in the recent past.
  • Each one is different and important.
  • They represent not an event, program, or approach, but really a journey of building relationships. It includes story-telling.
  • The idea that “Jesus is for everybody” is really at the heart of this discussion.
  • Princeton Seminary – an organization that is spending a lot of time thinking about and working hard on these principles.
  • “There’s a difference between knowing that you’re welcome and feeling like you belong.”
  • Wheaton College is another organization that is making strong efforts in this direction.
  • Riverside Church in NYC – a church that is very intentional about making sure it’s clear that Jesus is for everybody.
  • The upcoming generation deeply values the question: “Are there people here who don’t look like me?” They are making significant life decisions based on diversity because it’s something that is important to them.
  • Having more diversity of cultures in one place or organization requires more grace! There is a little bit of comfort that must be sacrificed for the sake of achieving the benefits of DEI.
  • It’s important to have a good reason behind efforts toward DEI. Of course there are general reasons like, “I don’t want to be one of ‘those’ people.” But what about larger and broader and more positive reasons?
  • Diversity says, “Come have a seat at the table.” Inclusion adds, “I want to hear your voice and know your story.” Equity adds, “I want everyone to have enough food at this table.”
  • One area that churches often struggle with in this area is in their music.
    • Music is a language of the heart!
  • It makes a lot of sense to start with people you know who get you by default. But then there have to be other chapters.
  • One of the key steps is that you have to actively make connections with people who are outside your normal spheres of influence.
  • The more you experience the fruit of diversity (smarter, deeper, better, etc.), it becomes more motivating and natural.
  • Eventually, you have to create systems around it. If it’s a systemic problem, what are your systemic solutions?
  • Intercultural Developmental Inventory (IDI)
    • Often we think in terms of black and white, but what about other cultures and ethnicities?
    • This can be something that is scary no matter where you think you are on this conversation.
    • “Knowing yourself helps you to know others better and deeper.”
  • We shouldn’t aim for perfection but excellence, in this area and any other area!
  • Connect with Aqueelah: aqueelah.ligonde@ministryarchitects.com
  • Connect with Jeff: jeff.dunn-rankin@ministryarchitects.com
  • Connect with Trabelus: trabelus.whitfield@ministryarchitects.com