CNLP 429: Derwin Gray on the Pushback Against Racial Diversity and How to Build a Truly Multi-Ethnic Organization

Former NFL player Derwin Gray returns to the podcast to talk about what’s behind the pushback to racial diversity in the church, explain what the NFL taught him about building a multi-ethnic team, and what leaders need to do to build a truly diverse, multi-ethnic organization.

Welcome to Episode 429 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Plus, in this episode’s What I’m Thinking About segment, Carey shares some continued thoughts on race, culture, and the Church.

Guest Links

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Website

Episode Links

World Vision

The deepest truths about living like Jesus often come from leaders who are suffering, persecuted, and living in a hostile environment.

And through the beatitudes in Matthew 5, we know that people in difficult circumstances like these are often the closest to living like Jesus did.

World Vision invites you to listen to voices of leaders from around the world! Leaders who have used their suffering and persecution to build and strengthen their faith.

Join Danielle Strickland and World Vision for a NEW series called “Right Side Up Soul Care.”

In this FREE web series, Danielle and leaders in the global Church will share how they have learned to practice their faith and feed their soul through difficult circumstances.

The Church is a force for good in the world and World Vision’s heart is for the Bride of Christ to be healthy and mobilized to be the church outside the four walls!

Sign up today at


Leaders are tired. It’s been crazy navigating the world the past year. They need companies they can trust.

66% of Americans across all income levels say that health insurance is a major financial stressor.

Medi-Share is the best alternative to traditional health insurance that allows Christians to share burdens in the form of medical bills.

Medi-Share is the most trusted health care sharing ministry with over 415K members nationwide. They’re an authentic Christian community that is there for you when you need it most: to pray for you and to encourage you.

The typical family saves on average 50% or more on monthly health care costs when they switch. That equates to an average of $500 per month!

Medi-Share members have access to free TeleHealth and free TeleCounseling, which are both unlimited! You can join at any time and have access to 900K+ providers.

Medi-Share has a proven 27-year track record and has shared more than $4 billion since 1993.

Learn how much you can save, it only takes two minutes, by going to

Conversation Links

Building a Multiethnic Church by Derwin Gray

Church Pulse Weekly Podcast – Episode 55: Derwin Gray

CNLP 414: Tim Keller on Rethinking His Beliefs About Suffering, What Cancer is Teaching Him, How Culture is Changing and the Future of the Church

CNLP 409: Rick Warren Opens Up About the Coming Tsunami of Grief, Handling Personal Tragedy, and How Saddleback Grew During the Pandemic

8 Disruptive Church Trends That Will Rule 2021 (The Rise of the Post-Pandemic Church) by Carey Nieuwhof

Get Carey’s Content Straight to Your Inbox

*As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Insights From Derwin

1. The marriage of the church and government isn’t working well in the US

In the process of leading a multi-ethnic church, Derwin has learned that with many white evangelical Americans, if you talk about America in any disparaging way (even if it’s historical and factual), it’s an affront to Jesus.

To have a helpful conversation with them about being a multi-ethnic church, he has to first explain that he loves America too, and remind them that following Jesus is more important than being an American.

2. If you want to know if a church is multi-ethnic, look at who makes the decisions

A lot of churches will be considered “diverse” because no one ethnicity is more than 80% of its attendees. Derwin has a better way to tell if an organization is truly multiethnic or not: Look at who makes the decisions. If the decision-makers are all (or almost all) one race, it’s not a multi-ethnic church.

3. Your first steps towards building a multi-ethnic church or organization

Derwin recommends 3 steps to lead a more multi-ethnic organization:

  1. Sit down in a quiet place and pray, “Spirit of God, help me to see my prejudice and blind spots.” If you aren’t a believer, spend some time in meditation and ask, “Where are my prejudices and where are my blind spots?”
  2. Seek out friends of a different race than yours to learn from and connect deeply with.
  3. Read Derwin’s book, Building A Multiethnic Church. Carey emphasized this point, stating that the principles in the book also apply to businesses and non-profits.

Quotes from Episode 429

One of the ways you know that you're growing in love for the other is things that affect the other begin to affect you. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet Justice is simply this—I want my neighbor to be treated the way I am, and I want the wrongs to be made right. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet That's what it really takes to love each other—to be humble enough to learn from the other, but also to be unoffendable by legitimate questions. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet You cannot have true healing without true recognition. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet Humility says, ‘I am willing to relearn some things in order to love.’ @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet God, in His genius, has created this human race to have different ethnicities and different cultures and different ways of being, and that's how we grow and learn. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet The image of God is not located in just one ethnic group. God loves diversity. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet Our identity as followers of Jesus, regardless of your ethnicity, is not in America. America didn't die for you on a cross. Jesus Christ died for you on a cross. Our allegiance is to Jesus, first and foremost. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet We allow the culture to dictate how we should treat each other instead of Christ. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet If you don't remember the past, you're doomed to repeat it. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet To dehumanize another person means the depth of your dehumanity is at toxic levels. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet When you mourn and when you cry with someone, that bonds your hearts to move forward together. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet As people of color, we need to be less offendable towards people of good will. But then our white brothers and sisters of the dominant culture must also be humble enough to learn. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet When you're the dominant culture, the world is revolving around you, and so people who aren't like you don't experience the same things that you experience. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet When you look throughout the history of the church, particularly in America, 90% of all black denominations exist because of racism in the white church. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet Christians who are white, who come from other churches, struggle with the idea of multiethnic church, struggle with the idea of racial justice. But unbelieving white people get it immediately. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet Research shows that if a house is owned by a black person in the same neighborhood as white people, the appraisal is much lower. But if you just simply switch the person, the appraisal goes up. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet People are more committed to their late night political TV show host than they are actually to Scripture. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet The Church of Jesus Christ outlasted the Roman Empire, the crusades, the Middle Ages, and he's going to outlast everything else. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet No parent is going to be perfect, and the best thing a parent can do is model the need for grace and asking their children for grace and pointing them to the one who is grace. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet The aspect of truly being multiethnic starts with who makes the decisions. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet A true multiethnic church has a diversity of perspectives ethnically and life experience-wise. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet When you have a diversity of leadership, you consider other people that your culture represents. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet There's one thing that leaders do that make them lead well—they are intentional. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet As a pastor, the goal is not diversity. The goal is to love each other well and beautifully. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet Have a table so big that everybody can sit at it and eat well and conversate and learn from each other. @DerwinLGray Click To Tweet I believe the future church will consist of Christians who look, live, and sound much more like Jesus than the political candidate of their choice. Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 428

Looking for a key quote? More of a reader?

Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

Watch Back Episodes of The Podcast on YouTube

Select episodes of this podcast are now on YouTube. Our YouTube Channel gives you a chance to watch some episodes, not just listen.


Subscribe for free and never miss out on wisdom from world-class leaders like Brian Houston, Andy Stanley, Craig Groeschel, Nancy Duarte, Henry Cloud, Patrick Lencioni, Francis Chan, Ann Voskamp, Erwin McManus and many others.

Subscribe using your favorite podcast app via

Apple Podcasts


Google Podcasts



Spread the Word. Leave a Rating and Review

Hopefully, this episode has helped you lead like never before. That’s my goal. If you appreciated it, could you share the love?

The best way to do that is to rate the podcast on Apple Podcasts and leave us a brief review! You can do the same on Stitcher and on TuneIn as well.

Your ratings and reviews help us place the podcast in front of new leaders and listeners. Your feedback also lets me know how I can better serve you.

Thank you for being so awesome.

Next Episode: Amy Edmondson

Harvard Business School Professor and renowned business expert, Amy Edmondson, talks about the growing link between psychological safety at work and the results that high-performing teams accomplish.

She details what psychological safety is, how to create a psychologically-safe workplace, and what to do if you don’t have one.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 430.

CNLP 429: Derwin Gray on the Pushback Against Racial Diversity and How to Build a Truly Multi-Ethnic Organization


  1. lorraine on July 17, 2021 at 10:16 am

    If the black church was ‘ born’ out of white church and this is considered not a great thing, then why is there so many black churches being just black? We have a pretty large church in our area that said from the pulpit ‘we are a black church ‘ and that really how they want to keep it and they have . There is not one other ethnicity in it. Would not it be that the pastor and board (decision makers) have to start that change> If that is the case then the ones that don’t intentionally do something about it may not have change. I know I dont feel welcome to be there. I tried. To have things/classes/gatherings that are diverse and say it from the ‘stage’. We had a multi church but it took the pastor to actually put his boots to the ground in prayer and to the streets. Then we had a successor that was (I say was and had bc they have both passed away)black and he promoted black people and family members into leadership and had many black that came to church bc the church was now lead by a different color. We stayed muliti at about 25% white, but board went all black . Now we have a white pastor again after many years and we are still multi and more of a 50/50 but we haven’t seen new white people come to membership for so long and now we are growing again in more white and black. I think we are on a good path as our board is back to be mixed very well. Although we don’t see the black board members in service much since covid. Comfortable online?

  2. Ken on July 15, 2021 at 10:51 am

    “…. the goal is not diversity” AMEN! “The goal is to love each other well and beautifully. @DerwinLGray” On every front we need to stand up to and reject the notion of relating to people as groups based on differences, and champion relating to people as individuals based on our shared need for Christ. Any other focus is a huge distraction and misdirection for the church and will fail to transform hearts. It is the cross of Christ and the transformation of hearts by the Holy Spirit that redeems the world. Ultimately there are only two “identity groups”, sheep who hear His voice, repent and receive Him, and those who refuse Him.

    • Wayne on July 15, 2021 at 11:08 am

      Well said!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.