What is missing?
Have you ever had cookies or cake that tasted a little off and you wondered, “Did they leave something out?” Most people have, so what are we leaving out?
First, there are basic statistics. In our region of Florida about 2 in 10 people are Hispanic, 2 in 10 are African-American, half are Anglo, and about 1 in 10 are Asian. If we make a basic cultural measure of what our congregation looks like (or our church planting network, or our entire Presbytery!), we do not look like our population. This matters in light of our goal to reach our city and region for Jesus Christ!
As soon as race is mentioned, there’s glaring emotion! Minorities lament and express stories of abuse, and many Anglos feel accused without a sense of having ever done anything wrong. (“I’m not a racist! I’ve never done anything prejudiced!”)
It has helped me to think of the much bigger story. There’s so much emotion because there’s history. A scholar at UVA, Greg Thompson, helped me. He asked, “If my great-great-great-grandfather raped your great-great-great-grandmother, and everyone knew it, but no one ever said anything about it, wouldn’t you think that’s messed up?” I agreed, “Of course.” And then he said, “Well welcome to American history…” And a light popped on in my head. I had never, EVER thought about my own family history in that light let alone our culture’s history.
Praise God for redemption in Christ! We are promised that people from every tribe, nation and tongue are going to be redeemed, gathered joyfully together around the throne of Jesus!! And if that is our sure future, then it makes sense that we get started here — that the church look like heaven.
How can we repent? If we are going to reach our city, eventually we will need to look like our city’s population. We need to grow in awareness of how white privilege has shaped our lives at Trinity and how that has disadvantaged our neighbors — even if it wasn’t started in our generation. And a lot of thinking needs to change. Rather than thinking that we are heroes (“Isn’t it neat that we can help that poor black man get an education…”) we need to see that we are impoverished! People in God’s image with gifts, stories, wisdom and His Spirit living in them have been left out.
This is going to take a lot of time. But in the pursuit of reaching our city and region for Jesus, it’s clear that we need to set our faces toward much-needed change.
Things to pray for:
- Humility. Ask the LORD to be mercy to you wherever you’ve been hard, proud, cruel, mean, judgmental, condescending or blind toward people of other ethnicities.
- A teachable spirit. Ask the Holy Spirit to graciously give you a soft heart, to help you be eager to learn.
- Faith. Ask Jesus to give you hope in HIS power to change things that you cannot change — whether that is in your awareness, attitudes, or relationships.
- Love. Pray that the Holy Spirit would bear in your heart the fruit of His love. Ask Him to help you to show His love to every neighbor that He has given you, especially those who are different.
Tim Rice, Lead Pastor & Director of Church Planting