This leadership blog last week, discussed intersectionality relating to the community helping efforts of churches. According to several research studies, intersectionality is an analytical structure for identifying how qualities of a person’s public and civic identity merge to produce various forms of biases and privilege. Intersectionality may appear as opinions and beliefs on race, gender, sexuality, class, speech, physical appearance, height, disability, and religion. Of course, this list is not exhaustive. In addition, intersectionality may not just include one opinion on any of the above, but may combine one, two or more opinions. For instance, a community member may be judged based on her gender, race, and height, which produces more than one element of bias and unfairness.
Churches located in diverse communities may know how to assist people holding various identities. However, churches planted in communities not so diverse, may have no areas of program development designed to assist every member of God’s society or could likewise believe that there is no need to create an ethical framework of diversity semblance. In cases as the latter, this is indeed unfortunate.
Creating an ethical structure to support every member of society is not as difficult as some Christian leaders may assume. However, a project as this, should always begin with a prayer asking for God’s assistance to highlight personal biases, be them communal or political. Every person holds biases. The idea of spiritual beings living human experiences is not a thought to be discarded by the wayside. It is a serious matter to be examined age day. Talks of being self-aware have somehow become a new ‘hip’ statement or perhaps one leading to forms of significance. But to be self-aware, it has been studied that one must consistently self-regulate.
George Herbert Meade once wrote that for someone to develop self-awareness, this skill entails a collective nurturing story where a person gradually come to realize that he or she is different from others. So, what does this mean exactly? From the perspective of knowledge, skills, and understanding of diverse communities, a person must know that her or his biases may be completely different from a co-worker, family member or friend’s. The 2020 election in the United States (US) surely proved this! Didn’t it?
In community helping efforts, confronting biases and belief systems head on, are usually first steps to the fulfillment of church helping programs that are not designed for just one group and not the other. Self-awareness and self-regulation, provide integrity, control, and transparency. Additionally, many research studies show that the person who is self-aware, is more intentional. One germinal study by Duval and Wicklund (1972), which focused on objective self-awareness, acknowledged that when individuals are objective, attention is given to self and not their environments.
Change thoughts and belief systems, and remove biases, to genuinely serve others in every spiritual environment.
Each diverse church helping program is different. However, results of these type of programing can only be effectively delivered when Christian leaders are brave to confront specific areas of their heart that do not represent Jesus’ teachings. This is what it means to successfully commune with God. God offers the most perfect community with no biases and belief systems. He loves even the prejudice and the preconceived heart!
The great psalmist King David wrote “Be merciful unto me and heal my soul.” -Psalm 41:4
The helping spirit is in every church environment. Intersectionality resides in these places of worship too. Through pray, repentance, and healing, church leaders may see much needed community programs come to fruition.
I’d say…ask, seek, do!
Duval, S., & Wicklund, R. A. (1972). A theory of objective self-awareness. New York, NY: Academic Press
Mead, G.H. (1913). The social self. Journal of Philosophy, Psychology, and Scientific Methods 10:374-80