By: Stephen Lewis
June 25, 2013
What if I told you that diversity will be an important and coveted asset to solving problems in the future? That if the church and academy do not value or leverage diversity today they will diminish the quality of their future and relevance? Would you agree or disagree?
Scott Page, author of The Difference: How the Power of Diversity Creates Better Groups, Firms, Schools and Societies, notes that diversity trumps ability when it comes to developing innovative solutions to real problems. What does Page mean by diversity, you might ask? He does not mean diversity in the normal ways we use the term. Instead, diversity is a matter of perspective—a different way of thinking as a result of a group’s varied abilities and circumstances. Perspective reflects how people see, categorize and understand the world around them, and informs how they live in the world. And multiple perspectives can be leveraged artfully to make the world better.
Page’s research is compelling and warrants attention among church and theological leaders. His work has sharpened a question I have been wrestling with this year as a result of evaluating FTE’s programs, namely: How can FTE and its partners leverage diversity in relevant ways that lead to breakthrough solutions that address the church and academy’s leadership and organizational challenges?
“How can FTE and its partners leverage diversity in relevant ways that lead to breakthrough solutions that address the church and academy’s leadership and organizational challenges?”
The answer varies. But findings from program evaluations and conversations with key stakeholders this year suggest that FTE’s events are an important resource for diverse young adults, students and partners; FTE’s events offer a viable way to leverage diverse perspectives; and FTE can grow into a larger convening role in the future.
As a result, this summer we have begun and will continue to experiment with these suggestions by expanding our doctoral and ministry events beyond just FTE Fellows to include a broader audience. We will invite diverse partners to nominate young adults and students to participate in our ministry discernment events. Learnings from these events will inform FTE’s future events and programs we will launch in 2014, in addition to how FTE might leverage one of its most important assets—diversity—in service to the church and academy’s future leadership needs.
I invite you to value and leverage your own diversity in order to gain a new perspective on things and to help the church and academy partner with God to make the world a better place.