Ask the Pastor

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Today’s question was submitted during our ‘Hot Seat’ Sunday a few months ago: How can the church work to help resolve growing racial tensions across the nation?”

Great question, seeing that there seems to be as much division now as I’ve ever witnessed in my lifetime, and that’s saying something when you realize that I grew up in the South in the 1960’s!

I do realize it’s a complex question for which there is no quick answer, but since you asked, I’ll give my humble opinion: I think the Church (capital ‘C’) and the local church (as in CLC) can work to resolve racial tensions in two ways: by example & through intentionality.

Martin Luther King, Jr. said 50 years ago that eleven o’clock on Sunday morning was the most segregated hour of the week in America, and it remains true today.  I do not believe that’s because most churchgoers are racist; however, it’s obvious that most whites and blacks choose comfort over principle: they’re simply more comfortable worshipping with people who look like them.

We fight that battle every day at CLC, which is why our demographics no longer qualify us to be considered a multi-cultural church, as whites are often uncomfortable being the minority in the room.  However, I still contend that it is possible for churches to set the example for our culture and it is happening in some churches around the country.  Just this week I learned that one of my pastor friends has been invited to engage with governmental officials about our racial divisions simply because they learned of the outstanding example of multiculturalism at the church he pastors, and told him, “we want to see what you’ve done at your church all over our country!”

That will never happen by accident; it requires intentionality.  We’ve tried to practice that at CLC by raising awareness and keeping the issue in front of each ministry leader through the years.  But as I’ve also said from the pulpit many times, I believe it must go beyond our ‘corporate policy’ at CLC.  It’s not enough for you to attend a multicultural church; you must become a multicultural Christian.  If you don’t know what I mean by that, ask yourself, “when was the last time I had someone of another culture in my home for dinner?”  It takes intentionality to build relationships with people who don’t look like you, but the benefits are SO worth it.

I’m sure there’s much more to be said, but I’m hopeful that answer is a starting point.  What can you add to the conversation?  Please leave your comments or questions below:

6 thoughts on “Ask the Pastor

  1. The only way to combat stereotyping and prejudice is through personal relationships; one on one or in small groups. Our life groups at CLC provide that opportunity and I have forged strong bonds; both interracial and intercultural in those life groups. I have also always been intentional about initiating conversation and personal contact with everyone I meet. It has been very rewarding to find how much we have in common as part of the same human race. As a side note, I have noticed at the noon service at CLC Tinley Park that there seems to be greater diversity of culture and race. I don’t know what statistical evidence shows, but anecdotal evidence leads me to believe we are moving in the right direction.

  2. We have to be the church or Christ and show His love to everyone. As God’s chosen people we can’t just do the minimum we have to go out of our way to show God’s love and kindness. While I would hope we can change the hearts that shouldn’t be the motive.

  3. Pastor Jerry, thank you so much for posting this. I’ve always appreciated how you, as a white Pastor, have consistently and appropriately brought up the topic of race. I agree with you when it comes to being a multicultural Christian. I’ll admit, I’ve asked that question of myself, and have come up short. My wife and I are going to be more intentional about getting to know others who don’t look like us, beyond hi and bye. It’s easy for you to think that you are a multicultural Christian because you are around people of other cultures, but the real test is if you’ve ever had them in your home! I think if every CLC member did that, we would see more diversity. I appreciate your perspective on this!

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