There is much to grieve in this fallen world.

Recent events in our country have shown us why over a third of the Psalms fall into the category of “laments.” These events have clearly shown us the evil of racism and our desperate need for Jesus. It’s a week in which we need to be reminded that God the Father sent Jesus to die not only to eradicate the vertical hostility between God and his children, but to eradicate the horizontal hostility between his precious children. (Ephesians 2:11-20) The purpose of Jesus' life, death, and resurrection was to redeem a church made up of every nation, tongue, and tribe. An ethnically diverse church is God’s idea and near to God’s heart (Revelation 5:9); therefore, an ethnically diverse church is our joy and privilege to pursue.

Although it may be a joy and privilege, the pursuit of a racially diverse church is anything but easy. As John Piper reminds us in the conclusion of his book Bloodlines,

No lesson in the pursuit of racial and ethnic diversity and harmony has been more forceful than the lesson that it is easy to get so wounded and so tired that you decide to quit. This is true of every race and every ethnicity in whatever struggle they face. The most hopeless temptation is to give up—to say that there are other important things to work on (which is true), and I will let someone else worry about racial issues.

The main reason for the temptation to quit pursuing is that whatever strategy you try, you will be criticized by somebody. You didn’t say the right thing, or you didn’t say it in the right way, or you should have said it a long time ago, or you shouldn’t say anything but get off your backside and do something, or, or, or... Just when you think you have made your best effort to do something healing, someone will point out the flaw in it. And when you try to talk about doing better, there are few things more maddening than to be told, “You just don’t get it.” Oh, how our back gets up, and we feel the power of self-pity rising in our hearts and want to say, “Okay, I’ve tried. I’ve done my best. See you later.” And there ends our foray into racial harmony.

My plea is: never quit. Change. Step back. Get another strategy. Start over. But never quit.

My prayer is that we’d be a church with thick enough skin to “never…never quit.” New strategies - yes. New thoughts - yes. Humility to change our approach - yes. Giving up - never! With that in mind, we want to be clear on our current strategy and plead with you to join us in the pursuit.

1. LET’S PRAY FOR MORE RACIAL DIVERSITY.

 

As we pray, let’s thank Jesus for where He’s already brought us. Our goal has always been for our church to reflect the diversity of our community. Right now we do, but that’s no sure sign that we will continue to reflect our community as it grows in diversity. So let’s ask Jesus for the help we so desperately need! Without the power of the Holy Spirit, every plan and strategy will fail. 

2. LET’S PURSUE DIVERSITY CORPORATELY.

 

As a church family, the pursuit of diversity will affect future hiring and leadership teams. It will also affect our worship style, as we continue to wrestle through what it looks like to be more sensitive to all ethnicities in the way we sing and set up our services.

3. LET’S PURSUE IT PERSONALLY.

 

I am not saying you have to make racial reconciliation the number one emphasis of your life. But I am asking you to make it “an emphasis” of your life. Without it being an emphasis, without intentionally in this particular area, we gravitate toward sameness. The only way to stop that pull to sameness is to intentionally pursue friendships with people unlike you. With that in mind I’d love to encourage you in two ways…

First, pursue diversity at your dinner table.

 

Our goal isn’t just a diverse gathering for our Sunday services; our goal is diverse dinner tables and diverse friendships. Consider the last six months of your life, how many people have been in your home that look and think differently than you? If your answer is zero, then what a great opportunity to change the next six months.

Second, be a humble learner.

 

The church should be the safest place for people who don’t know each other to get to know each other. A safe, empathetic, easy-to-get-to-know-you culture grows from the soil of humility. Let’s ask Jesus for humility! This is especially true of those, like myself, in the majority culture, who have no idea how low their racial IQ is.

For those with an open, ready-to-learn heart, we want to provide resources to help you on the journey. Rather than an exhaustive list, this is a list to get you started. We hope they serve you well as you devote yourself to keeping down “the dividing wall of hostility.“ (Ephesians 2:14)

  

READING LIST  

 

BOOKS & ARTICLES

Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian, by John Piper (free pdf at link)

Sever the Root of Racism, by John Piper (Chapter 32 of “Brothers, We Are Not Professionals” - free PDF at link)

Letter from a Birmingham Jail, by Martin Luther King Jr. 

Let the Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King, by Jr. Stephen Oates

Oneness Embraced, by Tony Evans

United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity, by Trilla J. Newbell

Letters from a Birmingham Jail, edited by Brian Lorrits

Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, by Christian Smith and Michael Emerson

The Warmth of Other Suns, by Isabel Wilkerson

The Souls of Black Folk, by W.E.B, Du Bois

 

AUDIO

Acts 29 Panel Discussion on Race, with Matt Chandler, Thabiti Anyabwile, Dwayne Bond, Brandon Washington, Léonce Crump, Dr. Eric Mason

Panel Discussion, with Issac Adams & Jonathan Leeman

The Village Church Sermon, by Beau Hughes

Share This Page


More from the Blog

Fully Known

Culture

Fully Known

Tony Robinson

Can I tell you a little secret? There’s never a good time to commit to community.

Why We Must Be Bible People

Culture

Why We Must Be Bible People

Jimmy Needham

So before you get into God’s word, remember that becoming Bible-literate is not about being smarter, or beefing up your spiritual resumé, or lording your knowledge over others. It’s about looking through the pages to the Savior on the other side...

Think of Me, Lord, That’s All

Culture

Think of Me, Lord, That’s All

Lindsay Schott

I don’t know another holiday that insights such polar reactions from people other than Valentine’s Day.

Conversations on Race

Culture

Conversations on Race

Tony Robinson

The presence of loaded words, misunderstood intentions, history, and personal experience lead many to simply retreat in fear or walk in anger.

Arrows to Jesus

Culture

Arrows to Jesus

Kelly Needham

How gift-giving can point to something bigger.

A Holiday Posture

Culture

A Holiday Posture

Lauren Cohoon

The months of November and December bring about a common thread of busyness in most peoples lives. But- what if we were just as good at creating time to actually absorb the season of Thanksgiving and Christmas and not just rush through it?

Death. Burial. Resurrection.

Culture

Death. Burial. Resurrection.

Marilynn Howe

Perhaps that what we do. We keep going to church. We keep being the church. We keep loving and leading the lost from death to life.

#Idolatry

Theology

#Idolatry

Jimmy Needham

If the Old Testament had it’s own Twitter account, the trending topic every day would read #idolatry. In fact, I wager that if you were to crack open your Bible at any place you’d have a fair chance of finding a verse addressing this topic.