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Diversity, Funding, and the Future of EMI

Exploring new dimensions for EMI growth
Listen to our special podcast supplement

Back in 2016, we set out to identify EMI’s core values. We asked, “What few words are absolutely essential for describing what EMI is?”

Design, Discipleship, and Diversity – now known as the “3Ds,” was our answer to that question.

Diversity as one of 3 core values
EMI's Diversity Core Value: "EMI builds the Church by connecting people of diverse backgrounds, abilities and ethnicities to demonstrate our love for God, our love for the nations and the unity we share in Christ."

Because we want to grow into these values and measure our progress, we’ve sought to better define these terms. As we have been digging into “Diversity,” we have tried to answer the question, “What does this look like at EMI?”

Our starting point was an eternal picture from Revelation 7:9: “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb…” (NIV)

We saw explicit dimensions of diversity in that ‘great multitude’ in ‘nation,’ ‘people,’ and ‘language.’ We felt it will certainly have others as well: Certainly there will be both men and women, certainly we will see people from all levels of society, and more. As we considered these things, a number of dimensions for defining EMI diversity became clear.


EMI growth in staff & locations from 1982-2020. Tap to replay.

In one dimension, we’ve already made good progress. EMI has seen growth in the national diversity of our staff over the past 10 years. EMI’s proportion of “local staff” – staff local to project countries – has grown tremendously.


EMI staff origin nationalities in 2020. Tap to replay.

While we want to see rich international diversity at EMI, the next horizon is expanding it into every level of EMI from Internships to Directors. And there are other diversity dimensions we’re aiming for.

We desire each EMI team to benefit from a diversity of people groups (meaning ethnicities and racial groups within a nationality), languages, genders, and design disciplines. We also recognize the need for continual growth in our cross-cultural skills, in working with or leading a multi-cultural team, and in serving diverse clients.

These things build into EMI’s other core values as well. Diversity increases our creativity & innovation in Design, filling in blind spots. Diversity rounds out our worship, extending our Discipleship reach across traditional barriers. All this doesn’t amount to a convenient or efficient strategy. When people seek to honor themselves, diversity gets in the way. It makes working together difficult. But when we seek to honor God, our diversity is a beautiful reflection of the global Body of Christ.

We’ve come a long way since 1982 and a US-only operation and we want to go farther. However, there are definite funding challenges with diverse growth. Recent growth in staff and locations has been dependent on EMI’s original funding model: Staff raise their own financial support. This is now known as “Ministry Partner Development” or MPD.


EMI revenue animated across 2010-2019.* Tap to replay.

Across this period, our teams have experimented with centrally-funded local staff and MPD-funded local staff, and hybrid situations between. Both funding models offer us different strengths as we pursue our mission.

Central funding allows for quick staff onboarding and response to the immediate staff needs. It can allow for more targeted hiring and increases the pool of staff candidates. MPD encourages commitment to the mission and a sense of mutual belonging. It consistently fosters moral ownership and enables certain forms of staff expatriation.

When the challenge is to grow in diversity, however, we’re not sure MPD will be the only answer for EMI. The MPD model simply doesn’t present our staff an equal opportunity in all cultures and contexts. We want to go down a path that pursues these diversity dimensions throughout EMI. We wonder, ‘how much farther can a personal support-raising (MPD) funding model take us?’

The EMI Fund

Give to build a strong foundation at EMI. Together we will design a world of hope.

Recognising these funding needs, we opened the EMI Fund in 2016. It has been growing as a funding foundation for EMI ministry. For over 30 years, the paradigm was that EMI was a ministry you ‘go’ with. Now we need people to also recognise EMI as a ministry they ‘give’ to. So we invite you to help us build diverse teams and grow into new fields by giving to the EMI Fund.

According to that picture in Revelation, few things will translate from our world and the old order of things into God’s new heaven and new earth.

But we see diversity being valued and put on display there. It’s one of the ways we will bring glory to God.

That is our eternal future. That is the future we envision at EMI. Help us make that future a reality by giving, going, and praying with EMI. 

EMI Global office staff
  • EMI Global Contributors: John Dallmann – EMI CEO, Brad Crawford – EMI COO, John Breitenstein, Matthew Coffey, Brittany Coubert, Graham Frank, Chad Gamble, Jenni Keiter, Shalom Lazarus, Jason Reinhardt, John Sauder, Jonathan Singh, Lesley Smith
  • Podcast Moderator: Shalom Lazarus
  • Podcast Contributors: Brittany Coulbert, Brad Crawford, Graham Frank
  • Podcast Tech & Production: Jenni Keiter
  • *Revenue animation note: For illustration purposes only. This animation was created using financial data across period 2009-19. The following EMI teams are included in the data scope: Cambodia, India, Nicaragua, Senegal, USA, and Uganda. Overall EMI revenue increased across the period by roughly 2.5 times. This growth was modelled by the increasing size of the animation.
  • Editor: MJC
  • Graphics & Animation: Emma Wingerd
  • Published: 15-December-2020

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Don’t miss our special podcast supplement to Diversity, Funding, and the Future of EMI!

The EMI Fund

Give to build a strong foundation at EMI. Together we will design a world of hope.