Ministry Imagination Grants: Imagine. Innovate. Initiate.
By Courtney Olsen
The church holds great potential for making positive change in communities. However, intercultural incompetence can have extremely negative effects on community outreach by churches, even when members act with the best intentions.
In the last year, Nativity Lutheran Church in Saint Anthony has made a concerted effort to develop a new approach to their congregation’s community outreach. As a part of this process, the church staff, council members, and anti-racism team are undergoing an intensive intercultural competency training using the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI). Nativity funded the IDI training with a Ministry Imagination Grant, a program created by the Minneapolis Area Synod using the legacy proceeds from the sale of the Lutheran Church of the Reformation to fund new, enhanced, or expanding ministryies that are looking to share the gospel in innovative ways.
“Nativity’s staff, council members, and anti-racism team are undergoing an intensive intercultural competency training using the Intercultural Development Inventory.”
“The Intercultural Development Inventory is a valid, reliable assessment tool created by Dr. Mitchel Hammer to help individuals determine how they navigate cultural difference,” said David Scherer, CEO of Beloved Community Consulting, Multi-cultural Enrollment Specialist at Luther Seminary, and trained IDI administrator. The inventory is unique because it focuses on development rather than labeling someone as a certain type. The hope is that, through intentional work, a person can create a stronger intercultural mindset and increase intercultural competence.
“Congregations have cultural values that they have developed and proliferated without realizing it,” explained Scherer. “Some of these values have excluded people unknowingly. The IDI, when taken by congregations, helps us identify what those patterns are so that we can adapt them to when they are no longer life-giving to model Christ’s welcome for all. [It] helps us develop tools so that we can love others with the compassion of Christ in a way that they will receive it as love.”
THE IDI ASSESSMENT CONSISTS of a 50-item questionnaire and four open-ended response questions designed to get to the heart of one’s intercultural experiences as well as cross-cultural goals and challenges. Each person’s responses to the inventory is analyzed and compiled into a report (either individual or group) that describes their position on the Intercultural Development Continuum.
Scherer met with Nativity’s pastors, staff, and council both before and after taking the assessment. First he gathered with the larger group to discuss the IDI and its value and then he shared with each person to facilitate individual reflection on the outcomes of the assessment and to create an Intercultural Development Plan.
Nativity IDI participants have already begun putting their IDI learnings to use. A new position held by Kelly Sherman-Conroy, Minister of Social Justice and Advocacy for Children, Youth, and Family Ministries, was created to expand Nativity’s advocacy work. In January, Nativity featured Tracks in the Snow, an exhibit on the Muslim Experience in Minnesota produced by the Islamic Resource Group of Minnesota and previously on display at the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the State Capitol, and the Walker Art Center. Nativity also held its Second Annual Martin Luther King Day with activities centered around Nativity’s shared vision of social justice and working for positive change within the community context.
“Though the full IDI assessment is still in process at Nativity, staff and council members alike believe it is and will continue to be beneficial, both for their work and for their personal lives.”
Though the full IDI assessment is still in process at Nativity, staff and council members alike believe it is and will continue to be beneficial, both for their work and for their personal lives. “We have found the IDI program to be a great experience, … very enlightening and a little shocking. Many of us envisioned ourselves as further along on the Intercultural Development Continuum than we are,” said Gail Bergsven, Director of Community Partnerships and Staff Development at Nativity. “Not only did this entire process increase awareness, it also prompted open and honest communication that would not have happened without us going through this together.”
Scherer further emphasized how the IDI impacts both how the church organization and the participants on a personal level. “As they do their individual work, they will be discerning what the organizational work is that they are being called to,” said Scherer. “It is not just about changing the organizational chart, but also changing the heart.”