Why Do We Value Diverse Perspectives?

At Made to Flourish, we value diverse perspectives in the conversation on faith, work, and economics. Here’s how we’ve stated our value:

We are committed to being a community who pursues diverse voices in the conversation around faith, work, and economics. While we are committed to a set of core beliefs, we acknowledge that different racial, denominational, and socioeconomic groups approach these issues with different perspectives. We value these differences, and believe there is great opportunity for wisdom and unity as we listen and learn from each other. This has implications for speakers we choose, participants we invite, staff we hire, and groups we engage.

Behind this value is the assumption that if we are not careful, we may act, perhaps unintentionally, as if the solutions we’ve discovered to work in our own context also apply to everyone else. I was reminded of this several months ago, as I met with a pastor of a Hispanic congregation who is involved with Made to Flourish. I’ll never forget how he described the unique challenge of helping his people catch a vision for how God is at work through their daily work:

Most of my congregation members are first generation immigrants, and many of them speak very little English. In their home countries, many of them were trained professionals. But in America, because of language barriers, they now work night shifts. In their home countries they used to run the office–now they clean them. I just want them to experience dignity in their work, because many of them do not feel dignified and lack purpose.

Just as every preacher thinks about applying the same Scripture to a congregation with a myriad of different life situations, so we are committed to building a network that applies a theology of work and economics to a diverse audience. We ask, how might these ideas apply to blue-collar work? To an urban context? To both men and women? Among different socioeconomic statuses and cultural perspectives? To those just starting their careers and to those who’ve been working for the majority of their lives? By listening to you, the members of our network, we gain insight in these areas.

We also have diverse denominational representation at Made to Flourish under a broad evangelical tent. Whenever a pastor joins our network, we send them one of five theological primers on faith, work, and economics. While these primers express a cohesive vision of faith, work and economic integration, they approach the conversation from the unique doctrinal distinctives of their denomination. These types of resources can help us learn the language of our brothers and sisters from different denominational tribes, so that together we might understand one another and be better equipped to work together for the common good.

This commitment to diverse perspectives does not mean we are rudderless–without conviction or a set of core beliefs. Rather, we see that the same convictions may play out in a 1,000 different ways, and the application of these convictions requires wisdom that one person or one group alone doesn’t possess. If we listen and learn from each other, we can be more effective in our mission, as we help the members of our congregations live all of life as worship to God.

Topics: Christianity & Culture

About the Author

Matt Rusten serves as the executive director for Made to Flourish. Rusten received his master of divinity degree from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and has served in churches in North Dakota, the Chicago area, Kansas City, and most recently as pastor of spiritual formation at Blackhawk Church in Madison, Wisconsin. He and his wife, Margi, and their daughter, Olivia, and son, Owen, live in Kansas.