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Ministry Across Differences

photo Barbara Sutton

by Barbara Sutton, Director of Bridge Builders for a Thriving Mission

word cloud of ministry across differences

"There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person,
there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus." Galatians 3:28

When leaders and teams come together to examine their differences and explore ways to better sustain their connections and collaborations, they are already well on the way to thriving in ministry. Bridge Builders for a Thriving Mission can help by providing expert consultation on those topics.

Under the guidance of a strong facilitator we can examine together the dynamics of sustaining a healthy ministerial workplace. For example, exploring one’s social identity, organizational cultures, and personality traits helps us understand how unexamined differences can be obstacles to effective teamwork and a staff’s shared commitment to advance the message of the Gospel. We will examine how our differences shape our hearts, minds, and behaviors and influence the health of workplace structures. Understanding these differences more deeply enables us to leverage their potential for creativity and collaboration.

Pastoral leaders will be invited to reflect on their personal, social and cultural identities, beliefs, values, and attitudes and how they affect one’s sense of self and interactions with others. A Covenant-based reflection tool will guide teams toward right relationships in the workplace.

Sample Retreat or Workshop Series

Session 1

  • ​What is Culture?

  • My Social Identity

  • Fruit of the Holy Spirit as Spiritual Practice

Session 2

  • My Cultural Values

Session 3

  • ​Differences that Make a Difference

Session 4

  • ​Spillover

  • Triggers

Session 5

  • ​A Deeper Dive into Workplace Culture

  • Fairness

Session 6

  • Fault-lines and Leadership Networks

  • Cultural Humility

Examples of Key Concepts


Understanding and Identifying Triggers is a foundational skill needed to lead across differences. Because social identity conflicts are generally emotional in nature and often reflect social and power relationship in society and church at large, the ability to recognize triggering events and their connections with societal issues is key.


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