One of the most interesting speakers at Willow’s A2 Conference was David Ireland of Christ Church in Montclair, New Jersey. Ireland is the pastor of a multiracial congregation of more than 5,000. Comprised of people from diverse racial, cultural, and ethnic backgrounds, there are approximately 25 nationalities represented. Imagine the challenge that represents!
A key element in his approach is the understanding and application of social exchange theory, basically a "perspective that explains social change and stability as a process of negotiated exchanges between parties." You can read more about social exchange theory right here. His point was that the upside for the people who participate at Christ Church is the diversity. Social exchange theory posits that "all human relationships are formed by the use of a subjective cost-benefit analysis and the comparison of alternatives." Ireland’s presupposition is that the members at Christ Church see the diversity as a benefit. His job there is to continue to fan that into flame, helping his congregation see the benefit of connecting with people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
Do you feel smarter? I do! I heard him talking about social exchange theory, nodded my head wisely, and wrote the term down for later. Thankfully there is wikipedia!