Neomi (far left) and other Candler interns prepare to celebrate Holy Communion at Gwinnett Medical CenterThis summer allowed me the opportunity to really explore what is required in leading, establishing, and maintaining a church that welcomes, celebrates, and ministers to people with different cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Three leadership lessons will stay with me as I continue to define what it means for me to serve in church leadership.

  1. Having a multicultural, multiethnic, diverse congregation is hard. It requires the leadership to be mindful of what words or phrases could be offensive to a certain demographic. It requires the leadership to be willing to engage in uncomfortable conversations. And it requires the leadership to be committed to loving one another in the midst of being transformed. 

  2. You cannot do this work alone. Friends, prayer partners, and coworkers are vital to the success of the vision and the wellbeing of the leader. Multicultural congregations go against the tradition of church and the organization of society. Pushing against the grain depletes you, but having good friends, coworkers who share the burden, and people willing to engage in spiritual practices with you allows you to stay committed to the work. 

  3. Celebrating the set-up of the Mission Sunday Block Party at Refuge Coffee in ClarkstonCelebration is a requirement. No matter how many disputes occur throughout the week, no matter how resistant the staff and members are to establishing relationships with people they perceive to be different from them, celebration of the small victories helps remind everyone that we are on the journey of transformation together. Failure to celebrate hinders our ability to recognize the community that is being formed in the midst of holding a vision for greater unity.

Overall, my advanced summer ministry internship reminded me that my world is complete when people with different stories, different experiences, and different gifts are building community together. It also reminded me that leadership is a skill that is always developing, always being refined.