Race and the White Church by ACHUCKAllen
Here is my Disclaimer: I am a 60 year old white pastor of a 5,000 member church. I am not a radical, or a racist. I am not campaigning or looking for any platform. I am the product of a father that introduced me to living with and loving friends that are black and brown. His father was not that guy. My Pop was a George Wallace supporter and the concept of me attending a Jr. High School that was 50% white and 50% black mortified him. He wouldn’t allow me to swim in public pools with black friends. That’s my disclaimer.
Here is my Admission: I am a 60 year old pastor of a 5,000 member church. I pray for and deeply desire a community and church that is welcoming and aggressively generous in loving people – ALL PEOPLE – with a God-honoring love. I do not think we, the church, can ignore that fact that racism is still alive in the good ol USofA. If you need any proof of that, look to Brunswick, Georgia. The real admission comes to a boil with the following statement…I haven’t done a blessed thing (of substance) to make things better, all while claiming that I want to pastor a diverse congregation. Ouch, that’ stings.
Here is my Hope: That with all of the division in America, including political, racial, spiritual and financial, the last thing I want to do is jump on the bandwagon and pile on the already proven realities that to fix blame without fixing problems is a waste of energy and time. My hope includes the ability to, as my friend Corron Boston would say eat together, talk together and serve together. Some of the most meaningful times in my life have been around a meal. Many of my dearest friendships started around the table, while sharing food and drink. My belief is that when any person feels that they belong, they find it so much easier to believe. Around that table, we will share meaningful conversations about meaningful subjects. They may start on the surface, but if we are to create a lasting change, we need consistent conversation, up close. It’s easy to label people from a distance. It’s far more likely to share hurts, hopes and joy with people you really know. I’ve seen it happen hundreds of times; When we sit and eat together, we will naturally share and pray together. When we share, we begin to understand one another and love one another for who we are and who we are Christ. It seems that we also learn how to serve another and we then join together in serving others.
Here is my Challenge: Make a choice to be intentional about broadening your relationships, especially with people/families that do not look like you or is a part of your existing relationships. Make sure you talk with and listen to your new relationships. Be sensitive, but not politically correct. Speak openly, honestly, and how you speak with your present groups of friends. Hear me though! Check your expectations at the door and invest in long term relationships. This is a lead strategy for a better future and not everyone wants to adopt it. but you can!
I realize that this simple step doesn’t correct the statistics of young black men being incarcerated or targeted. I realize that it doesn’t solve the fear, the hurt, and the full integration of people from all races and religions. But I do know this, we must start somewhere.
Churches like, Sugar Hill Church, in the Atlanta suburbs can and must diversify in at least five ways.
- We Must Build Diverse Communities. Communities that see past our skin color or our faith history. Jesus left absolutely no wiggle room for preferential treatment based on gender, socio-economics, race, or education.
- We Must Speak Up! To assume that this is “our problem,” is equivalent to saying that the Sermon on the Mount doesn’t apply to us. Come on, man!
- We must get aggressive in one life-altering position. We absolutely must get aggressive in the attitude and action of loving one another! We aren’t the judge of who we are to love. We are to love one another. That “one another” statement doesn’t allow for human preference of prejudice. It is literally that simple – We are to love a one another…black, white brown or purple!
- We must not buy into the theory that “we have come so far when is enough?” That would be an uneducated and head in the sand statement that any Follower of Jesus would declare as far less than Christ-like.
I’ll wrap this up with two statements:
- This is about your heart…and mine. We cannot sit in all white churches and assume that it is because we have “a different culture.” The integration of the Sunday morning worship hour is a reflection of our heart and our unyielding pursuit of loving one another!
- There probably is no finish line in this effort. Let us strive for the rest of our days to model the life of Jesus and His teaching. Let us never settle for awkward, racial tensions when we can do, act and live far better!
Go in Peace, AChuck