Building a multi-ethnic ministry: part 2
This is the second article in a two-part series. Click here for part one.
When a predominantly white organization is seeking to hire African-American staff, it might offer unique and challenging circumstances. My objective is to present to you an alternative perspective and tool to win the T.R.U.S.T. to hire and develop African-American staff.
To Self Assess
“True leadership cannot be awarded, appointed, or assigned. It comes only from influence, and that can’t be mandated. It must be earned. The only thing a title can buy is a little time – either to increase your level of influence with others or to erase it.” – John C. Maxwell
If your organization has concluded that there’s a problem with lack of minority staff, identifying the real issues in that organization always starts from the top, at the leadership team. “Why,” is usually the hardest question to ask and answer. The easiest way to answer this is by making up a list of external and superficial excuses – they don’t feel comfortable, money/fundraising, worship styles, there are few on campus, history has always been this way, etc. However, I challenge you to look within and be willing to dig internally for an answer. Is there anything within you that’s hindering others to follow Christ and join organization?
Examine the following three areas:
- Skills: Do you have the skills (or people with the skills) to win different kinds of people?
- Holiness: Is God pleased with your walk to allow you to multiply your life? (Racial reconciliation, conflict management, pride, etc.)
- Vision: Does your vision cross over the railroad tracks? (Does your target include other races)
Your ministry will be a direct reflection of who you are and you can’t reproduce what you are not. If you want to have a holy, cross-centered, evangelistic ministry, it has to start with you. Are you personally fighting sin? Do you have a diverse group of friends? Are you boldly evangelizing cross-culturally? God’s plan is through men not organizations.
“God’s plan is to make much of the man, far more of him than of anything else. Men are God’s method. The Church is looking for better methods; God is looking for better men. ” – E.M. Bounds.
Once you have prayerfully considered these things, you will be a better position to win T.R.U.S.T. and African-Americans on your campus.
REAL Genuine Relationships
“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Theodore Roosevelt
Love, trust, and respect are essentials to build genuine relationships, which will be necessary to winning the future African-American staff. You need to make it a point to take staff out to lunch, include them in trips related to their areas, and spend time with them outside work. First-time shared experiences are homeruns for relationships. However, don’t take for granted connections through the smallest moments. Often times, a connection has to be intentional. It’s a water-cooler conversation or picking up the phone to say “hi”. This part of the process can only happen when you stop focusing inwardly and reach out. Your goal is to create a trusting environment while helping develop them into great future leaders. Effectively adding minorities to your staff team is a process of convincing them that you personally care, that they add value and that the team will be better with their participation.
“It is a terrible thing to see and have no vision.”Helen Keller
Apart from an individual’s devotional life, vision is by far one of the most important aspects to consider when hiring future staff. Andy Stanley defines vision as, “a clear mental picture of what could be, fueled by the conviction that it should be. Vision is a preferred future or end goal.” I have always been taught that vision is a driving force for those who are successful at anything. You get what you see so if you don’t see anything, you won’t get anything. I would also suggest that there are three aspects to define a vision:
- Universal – Everyone (make disciples of all nations)
- Unanimous – Group (Reach college students for Christ)
- Unique – Personal (Evangelizing the AA Community)
I recommend that all your current and future staff be united on all three aspects of vision. Based on my conversations with veterans, the military does one thing well – it unifies a group of people around a shared mission and vision. Like the military, it wouldn’t be wise to enlist someone into your organization that’s not willing to lay down their life for the goal of reaching college students for Christ.
Study shows that African-Americans don’t easily trust structural systems. We lack confidence in the whole national institution system or don’t trust it at all – including the government, police, media, banks, education, businesses, and church. It makes total sense, even to this day, the African-American community as a whole has yet to reap the benefits of equality for all. Therefore, your typical presentation of your predominately white organizations impact on college isn’t going to be your best recruiting tool. If I had to prioritize the ranking system on winning the African-American future staff it would be:
- Win them to Christ.
- Win them to yourself.
- Win them to the vision of your organization.
You personally evangelizing and discipling an African-American student for a few years in college is going to give you the greatest return on the possibility of him/her coming on staff. This individual had an encounter with Christ, knows you care, and all of this was done under the umbrella of your organization. Finding a strong white leader who’s not a part of your campus movement and selling them on your organization may be effective in hiring him, however, this will be a rare case with an African-American leader. Your highest return on investment will be found through an AA student that was reached, developed and brought up through the organization because they actually believed, experienced and supported the movement.
“Treat a man as he appears to be and you make him worse. But treat a man as if he already were what he potentially could be, and you make him what he should be.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
This is the hardest investment, but it’s also the most valuable. It’s personal. You have to become their mentor – people find time for people that they believe in. To be successful at hiring future African-American leaders, you are going have to find a guy who you believe in more than he believes in himself. You have to be on their team more than they are on their own team. And you have to be convinced that hiring them to your organization is going to make them a stronger leader than they could ever imagine. If all of this is true, then leadership development and opportunities are going to become the norm. AA young leaders need ongoing training and development but also position in the organization that will lead to their growth.