I hesitate to wade into this charged environment. In response to the present surge of racism and murder of police officers in Dallas, I thought I might be able to shine some light in the direction of an answer. I believe that “solving” the resurgent racism problem is an ongoing mission together. We have to continually work on the issue. People divide over all types of things: age, economics, job type, or even birthplace. Racism is another way in which people, ungoverned by Christ, attempt to assert their superiority over others. This covetous root has grown into people since Cain killed Able. America is not alone in this fight. However, the church is the answer and here’s three ways it can be:
1. Pastors have to lead out by intentionally diversifying their friends. We don’t mean to, but we resist walking into another person’s world for fear of committing a faux pas. We usually consider friendship as something that happens by chance. Cross-ethnic friendships, especially among pastors, rarely occurs by accident. You have to mean to make a friend.
2. Churches have to embrace all the people in their community. It’s easy to grow frustrated with the people in your community you judge to be problem people. True ministry that engages the community, however, takes into account the customs of the local people and the place in life you find them. Ministry is not about how we wish people would be but about how they are. If you sense racial prejudice, you will have to work extra hard to lower that resistance. Ministering to needs rather than clinging to ideals will enable cross-ethnic ministry.
3. Hear people and address the issue. The churches need to hear one another and pastors need to repudiate racism in all its forms from their pulpits. They need to work for all races in their community. To accomplish that is to listen well. Churches can experience the peace of Christ and leverage that peace against the warmongering of Satan. When the church has listened to people, ministered to them, and consistently renounced racism, the grace of God will begin to bring peace to our communities.
These ideas are in practice at First Baptist Hempstead. We see them happening. Even as Look Like Heaven, a multi-ethnic emphasis of the Southern Baptist of Texas Convention, begins, we are reminded that this war is the churches to win.