Want To See A Change? Change Churches!
by Pastor Chris Williamson
STBC, pardon me as I preach to the choir…
I thank God that He called me almost 20 years ago to plant and lead a multiracial church in the south, comprised primarily of blacks and whites at approximately 50% for each people group. Strong Tower Bible Church is truly a miracle, and I praise God for what He is doing there. Our church is far from perfect. Starting with me, none of us have it all together when it comes to race relations, but at least we are in the right environment to grow. I have seen many people jump off the bumpy road of reconciliation to go back to an all-black, all-white, or all-brown worship experience and social context, but for those of us who hang in there listening, learning, and loving we find that the rewards of God’s Diverse Kingdom are more than worth it.
Recently, I have had two different parents in our congregation, one white and one black, share with me about their black children experiencing racism from other children in their elementary schools. Both cases broke my heart causing me to feel anger and sorrow. However, I have been encouraged by the honorable responses of the parents because these incidents could have scarred their children for life.
These egregious instances motivate me to keep doing what I’m doing, and that is to lead a diverse institution by comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable with biblical, historical, and sociological truth. With God’s help, I will continue experiencing, explaining, and expanding God’s Diverse Kingdom wherever I go. Early in my ministry, black folks thought I was a sell out for befriending whites, and these days I receive most resistance from white evangelicals who insist that we live in a post-racial, colorblind, and just society with equal treatment for all.
Even though I have been misquoted and misinterpreted by blacks AND whites alike over the years in the challenging and often lonely journey of reconciliation, I will continue preaching the gospel that connects humans to God and to one another through Jesus Christ. I will continue to tell everyone, starting with myself, to take personal and institutional responsibility wherever you are. Therefore, I say to black folks: “Stop blaming and take responsibility!” Conversely, I say to white folks: “Stop denying and take responsibility!” Let it sink in before you pick up stones.
If we all take responsibility, things will slowly change for the better. We will not agree on every social, political, and theological point, but can we at least agree that God and our children deserve better from us? If you want a nice, neat little Christian faith, keep doing life with people who look like you, vote like you, think like you, live where you live, shop where you shop, and worship where you worship. The rest of us will continue following Jesus on the arduous road of reconciliation with our brothers and sisters of different hues, accents, perspectives, and experiences.
But if God is stirring your heart and you want to break out of that all too familiar box called “your church,” it’s time to take a risk. If you can’t find a racially diverse Bible preaching, teaching, and reaching church to your liking in your area, I challenge black folks to get up, integrate a white congregation, and stay there! I challenge white folks to get up, integrate a black congregation, and stay there! Take a risk. Get out of the boat.
Things won’t change in America until the church changes and that may require you to change churches.
POSTED: March 17, 2015