Don’t Forget the Salt: The Cost of Ignoring Multiethnicity

By Phil Bowling-Dyer

Recently, in my haste to make my favorite dessert (my honed, refined, and perfected chocolate chip cookies), I inadvertently forgot to include the salt. For the next 24 hours, all seemed well: the dough kneaded the same, it looked fine after an overnight rest, and the resulting cookies smelled the same when they came out the oven.

But as soon as I put one in my mouth, it was instantly clear that something was very wrong. The butter, brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla, and chocolate chip flavor balance was way off, resulting in a cookie that tasted flat and two-dimensional.

Multiethnicity is a crucial ingredient to our work in the college and university world; when we don’t include it in our vision and training, I believe that although our ministry can look good and even “smell” right, our final results are flat and two-dimensional.


We will not reach and engage the ethnic diversity of the campus community unless we actively (and competently) engage in multiethnicity. Without multiethnicity, sometimes we can’t even “see” the different communities on our campuses.

I remember once asking a non-Black colleague who wanted to reach Black students more effectively where Black students gathered during lunch. She sheepishly answered me that she didn’t know. After strolling the campus for 45 minutes, we not only found the regular lunch group, but we also invited a half-dozen or so Christians and non-Christians to a GIG study she was starting – and they came.


We will not hire the ethnic diversity of staff and staff director colleagues to reach the diversity of the campus community unless we actively (and competently) engage in multiethnicity. As an organization, we have come a long way from the 1950’s when InterVarsity hired our first non-White staff workers, Hon Sit and Eugene Callendar – I praise God for our progress and for God’s faithfulness. Currently, we have a good ethnic mix of campus staff members (CSM), but we lose diversity as one moves up the leadership ranks.

To reach the diversity of the campus, we need to increase our multiethnic effectiveness in hiring and retaining a diversity of staff.

Overall, we will need to increase our multiethnic effectiveness in hiring and retaining a diversity of staff directors to reach the 12 million (61%) White, 3 million (15%) Black, 2.9 million (14%) Latino, 1.2 million (6%) Asian, 186,000 (1%) Native American, 66,000 (0.3%) Pacific Islander, and 740,000 (2%) Multiracial students (US Census Bureau).


Our ministry will not be prayerfully and financially supported and “partnered” to reach the diversity of campus community unless we actively (and competently) engage in multiethnicity. The more we are able to integrate multiethnicity in our ministry, the greater our ability will be to connect with a higher diversity of partners.

Across our country are Christian men and women who deeply desire to partner and invest in a college ministry that is changing the world for the better – potential Asian partners in Southern California, Black partners in Maryland, Latino partners in Texas, White partners in Illinois, and numerous partners of diverse flavors. The more we can translate what we do to who they are, making sense of our work in terms that both we and they understand, the better this ministry will survive and thrive.

When I discovered my cookie dough didn’t have salt, it was easy for me to knead in a teaspoon-full – the resulting batch tasted infinitely better. I believe that as we continue to partner with God to knead and integrate multiethnicity in all that we do, staff, students, and faculty will be blessed as we “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

P.S. You may be saying “I want to add salt to my cookies – I want to more actively and competently include multiethnicity in my vision and training: how do I do this?” I recommend checking out the resources on the ME website, subscribing to this blog, and even giving one of us in the ME department a call – we are here to work in partnership with you to reach all of “God’s people of every ethnicity and culture.”

Comment via Facebook