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Drawing A Bigger Circle

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READERS FAVORITE: Drawing A Bigger Circle

First posted in 2007. Join 5037 others who read this article. Don't forget to post a comment and hit the LIKE button at the top...

Celebrating Our Differences

About 20 years ago, I worked as an executive manager for a large discount retail store chain. Back then I was a new babe in Christ and hungry to talk about the things of the Lord.

Another manager friend and I would meet in the store's cafeteria each morning to talk about the Bible. After meeting together for months, a fellow manager approached us saying, "I noticed you meet here every day. You seem spiritual and I was wondering if you could help me find the answer to a spiritual problem?"

He explained his problem as: "I've been managing in this area for over 10 years. I've been attending a small church in the area all that time. So I love the people. But something happened at our church about a month ago that has it split down the middle like a sliced apple – half and half." We could see his pain. In fact he looked so uncomfortable; I wanted to let him off the hook. I wanted to tell him he didn't have to tell us the story. Yet he seemed compelled to tell us. So we leaned forward with concern in our face and said, "What happened?"

On he went with his problem, getting redder by the minute, "Like I said, 'We are a close knit church family. On this particular day about a month ago, we had started service. When a mixed couple – you know what I mean by mixed – a white man and a black woman came to our church. The usher not thinking brought them in and seated them in the only seat available at the time on the front row.

People started squirming, whispering, making comments…until finally the usher walked back up to the front. He asked the couple if they could move to seating that was now available in the back. Of course, they moved but left a few seconds later.

Doing The Right Thing?

It was so disruptive to the service that the Pastor eventually dismissed. Some felt the usher did the right thing and others felt he was way out of line. We met later that week; the meeting was so charged the Pastor threw up his hands and resigned. So now we are interviewing ministers for a new pastor.

The problem is the church is still split. At church yesterday, we listened to a minister that everyone likes including me. But before I could decide I felt I must ask him about the incident that just happened.

His response was, "Of course the usher was not completely correct. He shouldn't have seated the couple in the front. He should have politely made them stand in the back until the back seat was free. They probably would have gotten tired or gotten insulted and left. Then none of this would be happening to the church. You know it's going to be the same way in heaven.

When we get to heaven, the Blacks are going to be admitted through the back and the whites will go right in through the front door.

Our manager friend's question was, "I love my little church but I don't know if I can still attend a church with a pastor that thinks this way. What should I do?" Being new in Christ, we didn't know what to tell him. So with his consent, we prayed for him and asked God to give him wisdom. Then we instructed him to follow his heart. I believe God gave him wisdom though I can't say what his final response was because he was transferred shortly after our conversation.

A God Given Opportunity

Which brings me to the moral of my story; I believe God gave our friend and his church family an opportunity to change their mind about certain groups of people. By now we all know the church failed miserably.

Have you been given an opportunity to change your mind about a set of people or the differences in a group of people, recently? Did you recognize it? We're all given opportunities at different times to change our heart for the better.

Perhaps it's not in the racial arena. Maybe God wants you to change your mind about today's youth. Many of us have gone too long judging our youth and putting them all in the bag marked X. When God's heart is to raise up a generation of eXtra special young people that have to be different for the times to come. Has your heart hardened against the homeless? Do you often think they're all just lazy, need to get over it and get a job?

God's Call To Change

God is calling His church to reflect his heart by looking beyond race, status, age, gender and position. He wants his church moved by his heart and his compassion for people. Join us as we continue to embrace and celebrate diversity in God's Church. To create a good atmosphere for all kinds of diversity to grow and thrive in your church, your team and area of influence continue in these three things:

Match your heart with God's heart. It's true; you attract who you are at the core. Keep your heart close to God's heart. Make sure the things that are important to God remain important to you. God's ways and thoughts are not our ways and thoughts. But that doesn't mean our thoughts can't become like his. Pray for His compassion to flow through you more. No matter who stands before you – look beyond the outward appearance. Embrace God's ideas of diversity. Make the extra effort it may take to include all nations, all positions of life and all kinds of people.

Develop a plan of outreach that matches God's heart. What areas of diversity is God calling you to stretch and grow? If your church, your team is all the same, don't be satisfied. If you're African American, God may be calling you to reach out to the Caucasians in your area.

If you're White, he may be calling you to reach for the growing Latino community in your area. Or perhaps you have no outreach program to speak of in your church. Change your thinking; become the one that feeds Jesus when he is hungry; that visits him when he's sick, shut in or in prison. No, Pastor I'm not suggesting you add something else to your overloaded plate.

But do empower those ready to go. Develop a plan of outreach to the community that match's God's heart.

Diversify Your Team:

Years ago, Earma and I were ministering in an infirmary ward jail. It was setup with 20-25 large holding cells in a row. We would take our time and go to each door with the gospel.

Each cell had about 15-20 bunk type beds. The men would come up to the cell door and listen to us preach.

It was approx. 80% Black and about 20% White. We were well received by the Black men. Most accepted Christ like a drowning man receiving a life line. Yet God impressed on us that he wanted to reach everyone in that ward with the gospel. We could have said, "Well, we planted where we could," and left it at that.

But we didn't say that, instead we prayed to the Lord of the harvest, "Father God we know you want to reach everyone in this ward. Our White brothers aren't responding to us. Send us White laborers on this team – someone they can relate to."

You can probably guess what happened next. But I must tell you about God's goodness. By the next time we were preaching in the infirmary, He had sent us 2 sold-out, on-fire-for-God, preaching machine White brothers to go with us. And yes, God fulfilled his Word by reaching the whole infirmary ward with the gospel through our team.

Maybe God wants to do the same thing with your church, your team. May be He wants to reach your whole neighborhood, region or nation but He's waiting on you to diversify. So I charge you, go diversify. Include all nations in your circle and reach all people with your team's hands.

In His Service,

Varn Brown


Draw a bigger circle to include all people in God's heart. A good friend of ours has often said, "If someone is rejecting you or excluding you, draw a bigger circle and include them."

It's a wonderful principle that I apply every time I am rejected. But here's a little addendum I've made. Many of us have drawn our little circle to include only a few people. We are prone to include only the people just like us. No one different is allowed. We embrace those of the same nationality, same color, same status.

Sometimes we don't realize it but we've hung a little sign on the door of our heart like the ones they used in America during the 40s, 50s, 60s that read, "No Colored Allowed." Our little signs may read, "No Homeless Allowed, No Divorcees Allowed, No Africans Allowed, No Mexicans Allowed…" Even as I write this, I'm checking the door of my life for any signs. I see my circle has been too small. I'm drawing a bigger circle. Won't you join me in drawing a bigger circle to include all people?

While you are building a great church, a great team or even a great family, remember to match your heart to God's heart, develop a plan of outreach, diversify your team and draw a bigger circle to include all people.


© Varn and Earma Brown, Authors and Ministers of the Gospel

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Faith to Serve Podcast.jpgFor more of Varn and Earma's teachings encouraging armorbearers and servant leaders, get a copy of their latest book In the Spirit of Leadership of the Armorbearer Training Series. Or train your whole team with the set of Armorbearer Training Series books at a special discount from the Shield Shop for a limited time only.

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