Increasing Intercultural Sensitivity in Racially Diverse Communities: A Collaborative Project Involving Two Churches in Houston, Texas

by Susan Nichols
June 4th, 2022

Intercultural communication is well studied in workplace and education settings but lacks understanding within a religious context. This lack often leaves churches failing to see ways to be interculturally sensitive for collaboration in accomplishing community development work. The purpose of this mixed-method study is to increase intercultural sensitivity among the members of two church congregations to allow them to collaboratively engage in community development projects. The project involves two churches in the suburbs of Cypress-Fairbanks (Cy-Fair) and Katy in Houston, Texas. These rapidly diversifying communities face urban issues with minimal community collaboration. The study tested if participants’ participation in a well-designed community demographic bus tour increased intercultural sensitivity resulting in an increased propensity to collaborate. The results showed that a community tour with two culturally polarized congregations measurably increased accurate awareness, intercultural dialog, changed perspectives, and revealed similar shared results (although some approaches in methodology to address differed), and strengthened the desire for collaboration even among different cultures. Furthermore, the tour revealed some of the typical hindrances that prevent community collaboration and a course of action to overcome those obstacles.