DEI: Thoughtful Approaches to Youth Ministry
By Dwight Johnson
Approaching youth ministry through the lens of DEI will require partnership with an individual or consultant that can help you identify the spaces that need reflection, change and implementation. Research DEI consultants in your area that you can partner with or check with other churches and organizations in the area if they have already done this work. DEI work doesn’t happen alone. You have to ensure that you are on the journey alongside someone that can inform, critique and help adjust your practices. Consultants will provide a great sense of encouragement for this journey.
Equity vs. Equality
Before embarking on this journey it’s important to understand the difference between equity and equality. This will make the journey more clear for you and for those who journey with you. While the terms “equity” and “equality” are often used interchangeably, their meanings are quite different. Equity is defined as fair and contextually appropriate access to the resources and opportunities required for every individual, group, organization, and community to attain their full potential. Equality, on the other hand, involves giving everyone access to the exact same resources or opportunities, regardless of their unique circumstances. To accelerate change and positive impact, organizations must give equity top priority. Without a focus on equity, efforts to promote diversity & inclusion are commendable, but not sustainable.
Engaging this work will ask of you and everyone who participates a level of honesty and confession. The discoveries will not always be comfortable. As a matter of fact, prepare to be uncomfortable. DEI work doesn’t exist to minimize individuals. It isn’t meant to make people feel bad, but the work does exist to challenge worldviews. The step you, your church and coach can take is meeting together to discuss next steps for this portion of the cultural toolkit journey.
As you begin this journey consider another reason for exploring the space between ministry and DEI by reviewing the reflection below:
Christians bear witness to the mystery of Christ in words and actions. We seek reconciliation across all the boundaries that divide us because Christ reconciles sinners to God and has broken down the dividing wall that separates people and communities from one another. We seek peace because Christ is our peace and calls his people to be a community of peace. We seek justice because Christ is our justice and calls his people to do justice. We seek freedom because Christ has set us free and calls everyone to live in this freedom. We seek inclusion because Christ’s atoning sacrifice is for the sins of the whole world and because God’s plan is to gather up all things in him. We praise God for the vast diversity of creation and for fulfilling the promise to bless all the nations by including them in Christ: “I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”
- Whitworth University. “https://www.whitworth.edu/cms/administration/diversity-equity-and-inclusion/christ-centered-rationale/”
Some additional DEI Assessment Strategies and Resources: