Creativity Generated by Differences
I didn’t expect to find a striking correspondence between Andrew Walls, one of our most prophetic missiologists, and a leadership guru I discovered last week: Ron Heifetz, author of “Leadership Without Easy Answers” and the work of deep-rooted change he calls “adaptive leadership.” Walls speaks of the growing, clashing cultural diversity in the world as “crossroads in Christian history,” an “Ephesian moment” in which Christians of different cultures find fuller maturity in Christ through building a new common community. In other words, the DNA of the church and its growth into the fullness of the stature of Christ is not homogeneity but heterogeneity. So I was stunned to read Heifetz’s arguments about the “creativity generated by differences … the mix of values in a society provides multiple vantage points from which to view reality. Conflict and heterogeneity are resources for social learning … (and for learning) vital information that would otherwise be lost to view without engaging the perspective of those who challenge them.” That is a fresh angle to why it matters for Christians in conflicting geographies of race and ethnicity to abandon their segregated lives and limited traditions and to create new communities of mutual learning through friendship, reading Scripture, worship, and mission. This is not sentimental vision. In other words, growing into the fullness of Christ requires instigating cross-cultural conflict.
About the Author: Chris Rice is co-director of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School. He is author of Reconciling All Things, Grace Matters, and More Than Equals. He writes regularly at the blog Reconcilers.
Related posts: Why Diversity Matters
See also: Walls Ephesian Moment article