Why it is important to recognise there are diverse sources of diversity.

City_diversity_by_betteoWhen it comes to contextualising Christianity and everything that entails I find it is important to recognise that there are diverse sources of diversity within contemporary society. Too often Christian missional literature focuses on culture purely in terms of nationality or ethnicity. But I find it is often just important to recognise the ways gender, age, religious background, sexual preference, employment status, educational level, personality type and other factors also contribute towards an individual’s identity with (or alienation from) given communities.

For example, consider the example of a person migrating from Iraq who is gay.  Would you expect their cultural identity to be straightforward, or maybe a bit more complicated? Or what about a university professor who has been retrenched at the age of 50 and is now struggling to find work? Or what about a young adult, who grew up in Nimbin and has left her alternative lifestyle parents to pursue a professional career in the city? Could you put any of these people in a box? Would you expect God to connect with them all in the same way? Why then should churches seek to connect with them all in the same way?

When I consider my own context it is no less complicated. Yes I am an Australian, but I also identify with the global esoteric community. I have committed my life to Jesus, but I find the style of imported American megachurch Christianity that’s popular within Australian evangelical scene to be considerably alienating at multiple points. In my case it would be a mistake to presume ethnic (white), gender (male) and national (western) sources of diversity are the most significant. For I would suggest that for me, religious background (Catholic, esoteric, eastern) and personality type (intuitive thinker) are equally if not more significant for what contextualised Christianity looks like for me. So I have come to the conclusion we need a more expansive understanding of cross-cultural contextualisation.

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