Why Demographics Matter
Nov 14, 2018
Stark College and Seminary (SCS) aims to create an environment in which the love of God overcomes our differences. In South Texas, SCS is surrounded by a diverse community. SCS values multiculturalism and recognizes the importance and value of each person and culture. Stark believes multiculturalism addresses the Bible’s desire to value people of all backgrounds as created in the image of God and unite everyone under the love of Christ. It also creates a rich learning environment in which students can learn to love one another as God does and be open to different perspectives and people. This in turn leads to a healthier local church where congregations understand the value of multiculturalism and learn how to be in community with an ever changing population.
Throughout the entirety of scripture, diversity is described as God-ordained. However, God does not only desire a diverse group of followers, he ultimately desires unity among them. In the New Testament, we read Paul’s letters to churches which emphasize the importance of loving one another no matter your differences. In Galatians 3:28, Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Jesus Christ.” In Romans 12:16, he commands people to “live in harmony with one another.” Additionally, Psalm 133:1 exclaims, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity.” Divisions and differences are not meant to prevent Christians from joining together in Christ to worship Him as one body. We are called to adopt an attitude of love so every person is awarded the same respect and honor that Jesus bestows upon him or her.¹
Not only do we see the precedent of multiculturalism in the Bible, we recognize its importance in a theological education. Today, many students have “limited exposure to multiple perspectives on faith, politics, education, or any number of these subjects.”² One of the joys of multiculturalism is the ability to gently and kindly introduce students to people of different backgrounds so they are able to gain a more complete view of the greatness of God and the abundance of his creation. In addition to introducing students to new ideas and people, a multicultural environment increases performance for many students of color. Many of our students have not previously attended college. Coethnic peers help students feel accepted and provides them with positive examples of others from their ethnic background succeeding in college.³
These lessons also affect our students outside of the classroom. Most of our students are leaders and servants in their churches, and they are able to transfer cultural competency to their congregations. It is easy for churches to become increasingly comfortable in their surroundings where people look and speak similarly.4 The lessons and community at Stark help teach students they do not have to “have it all figured out, and other cultures have something to teach” them. They understand we must be willing to see “others as God sees them.”5
Taking all of this into consideration, SCS aims to create an environment where students feel welcomed, comfortable, and competent. This is why Stark pays special attention to the demographics of our students, faculty, staff, and trustees. We want an environment that reflects the creation of God and celebrates intricacy and difference. We promote love and understanding not only to create healthy followers of Christ, but also healthy churches. As the world continues to change around us, we must find ways to communicate truth to an increasingly diverse community and church.6
¹Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2001.
²Prevost, Emily. “Right or Wrong? A Multicultural Culture.” Baptist Standard. July 17, 2014. Accessed October 30, 2018. https://www.baptiststandard.com/opinion/other-opinions/right-or-wrong-a-multicultural-culture/.
³Ortiz, Anna M., and Silvia J. Santos. “Campus Diversity and Ethnic Identity Development.” Association of American Colleges & Universities. March 20, 2015. Accessed October 30, 2018. https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/campus-diversity-and-ethnic-identity-development.
4Prevost, “Right or Wrong.”
5Kurz, Joel. “The Blessings and Challenges of Multicultural Churches.” The Gospel Coalition. October 31, 2017. Accessed October 30, 2018. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/reviews/how-to-become-a-multicultural-church/.
6Ortiz, “Campus Diversity.”