Over coffee with a dear pastor friend, Jeff Philpott, shared some thoughts that have helped me see where I am at in building racial bridges instead of standing behind the old walls.
“Proximity to suffering breeds empathy” — From Otis Pickett preaching at 1st Presb Church
Who is at your dinner table reflects your REAL beliefs about race.
What you read and the music you listen to reveals your REAL commitment to celebrating diversity.
YES! But in a broken world where people fail to love as God designed it takes a powerful Gospel unleashed in the hearts of humble people by the power of the Spirit to develop and protect a fragile unity.
What steps of faith and obedience can we take that grow ethnically diverse congregations?
Be convinced a church as diverse as the geographic area where it resides is God’s will. Notice there was NOT ONE INSTANCE OF a church started in the New Testament that separated people ethnically or socioeconomically although the culture was segregated and stratified. Many of the conflicts in the letters of the New Testament are dealing with the challenges of diversity.
Pray with, be in homes with, and serve with people who are not like you. Listen to their music, eat their food, and understand their language.
See setting aside your preferences in order to build a bridge of love with someone different as a joyous way to grow, be enriched, and give of yourself.
Be ready to make mistakes and say the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. SO be ready to ask for and give forgiveness.
Love by giving the benefit of the doubt. Ask questions to clarify before engaging your capacity to form a judgement. Say, “That is different.” Instead of, “That is wrong or weird.”
WHAT WOULD YOU ADD TO THE LIST OF SUGGESTIONS?
A study was done of American Pastors asking them to list the top issues or problems facing the church today. Every black pastor placed racial reconciliation near the top of their list. None of the white pastors even put it on their list. When I start sharing about what God is teaching me about reconciliation my fellow white Christians sometimes say, “Why are you living in the past?” “Civil Rights was fixed in the 60s.” The majority ethnic group in America (for just a few more years) just cannot seem to enter into the shoes of an African American brother or sister in Christ and even begin to see America through their eyes.
Pastor John Piper’s new book BLOODLINES: RACE, CROSS AND THE CHRISTIAN has been the study of our Wednesday 7 AM at Bojangle’s group of 2 white guys and 2 black guys for several months. We have laughed together, “Amened” (is that a word) together, and teared up together. God is doing some special stuff in our hearts.
Ask Jesus to give you eyes to see and ears to hear and then read this book.
To Buy BLOODLINES in book or Kindle Click Here