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The Interracial Church

Posted by – 8/4/08

Interesting that this article should appear on the front page of CNN.com today, considering my pastor spoke at length yesterday concerning this very issue.

When I heard my pastor mention that one of the goals of City Church of East Nashville was to reconcile the diversity of East Nashville to each other and to Jesus Christ, my anti-affirmative action, knee-jerk response was, “Why is that so important?”

We were talking about it before the sermon because the church is searching for both an assistant pastor and a worship leader. Our church leadership feels strongly that the assistant pastor should probably be black, and it might not hurt if the worship leader was bringing a different cultural experience as well.

As I sat listening, the reasoning sunk in. First of all, I reminded myself, there’s nothing unbiblical about the desire to reconcile and break down barriers. In fact, the message of the Gospel levels the playing field, breaking down all barriers.

Then I read the article on segregation in the church. I never used to think of it as a problem. You know, they enjoy their services, we’ll just do ours a differently over here. But that is precisely why it’s a problem. The “us” and “them” mindset. If it’s that pervasive in the Church, how do we expect it won’t invade our lives elsewhere? It will.

The article does a great job of showing the breakdown of fellowship between Christians from all angles, speaking to the detriments from a religious standpoint. It was the end of the article that really got me, though. And keep in mind that this was on the front page of a major news outlet:

When Pryor sees his friend on Sunday, he says he no longer sees a “they” or a “them” trying to invade his world.

He sees his brother in Christ.

“We come to love each other,” he says. “When I look into his eyes, I can see the love of Jesus Christ. He and I have become friends.”

Shouldn’t that be a strong enough reason for racial healing to take place beginning in the Church? Remember, once the truth of the Gospel reaches a person’s heart and they really understand the Fall and their depravity, is it not true that we begin to realize just how much this whole thing isn’t about us and our preferences?

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  1. Dave Strunk says:

    Kev,

    This issue has always been a passion of mine, and it has substantial biblical credibility.

    It’s not that racial reconciliation is a good idea, a kingdom idea, or merely a cultural phenomenon noticed by the media, it’s a biblical mandate.

    See Ephesians 2 and 3- Jews and Gentiles reconciled is the mystery of the church. The entire book of Revelation witnesses the convergence of “every tribe and tongue” worshipping together. Solomon prays for the foreigner and the Gentile in his prayer that consecrated the temple in 1 ings 8, hoping that the nations would be able to worship the true God together in one space. I could go on and on. Nationalities mixed. Ethnicities mixed. Socio-economic status mixed.

    But it should be the priority of every local church to look as much like the community around it as possible. In every community, somebody owns the store and somebody cleans the store. White suburbanization is a myth. The rate of Hispanics and African-Americans that live in suburbs would surprise many a white megachurch…

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