Three Christian Leaders Share Three Things Christians Can Do to Bring About Racial Reconciliation

(PHOTO: REUTERS/MARK KAUZLARICH) Protestors pray for justice outside the St. Louis County Justice Building in Clayton, Missouri, on Aug. 20, 2014.
Protestors pray for justice outside the St. Louis County Justice Building in Clayton, Missouri, on Aug. 20, 2014.

The Church can experience long-lasting racial reconciliation when Christians finally choose to do three particular things that they apparently have been failing to do, according to three Christian leaders who recently took on the issue of how racial unity and the Gospel are intertwined.

In a conference call organized this week by The New York City Leadership Center in anticipation of its October Movement Day gathering, Brenda Salter McNeil, Pete Scazzero and Sherry Jones shared their concerns, suggestions and hopes for the Church in a time when headlines are populated with news of police-involved shootings, of mostly black males.

McNeil is an associate professor of Reconciliation Studies in the School of Theology at Seattle Pacific University and serves as associate pastor at Quest Church. Scazzero is founder of New Life Fellowship Church in Queens, New York. His best-selling books, Emotionally Healthy Church and Emotionally Healthy Spirituality, have been used by Christians in the area of spiritual formation. The third participant on race and Gospel call was Jones, who is the president and founder of Sonship Freedom in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

The subject of the call, which was moderated by Movement Day Director Ebony S. Small, rested on the question: “How does the issue of race affect Gospel movements?”

In their discussion McNeil, Scazzero and Jones pointed to three particular stumbling blocks they believe trip Christians up in the pursuit of authentic racial reconciliation. For McNeil, she suggested that Christians who appear mean-spirited or even racist in their approach to cross-cultural issues might actually be motivated by fear.

“I’ve begun to find that Christians do things that are hateful, not because they’re mean or racist or hate-filled. I believe that at the core there’s a fear. The fear of our country is going into a direction that we don’t like. A fear that we might lose resources. A fear that the good old days are gone and we’re scared of this generation that’s coming,” McNeil said, in part.

Scazzero pointed to the need for Christians to confront their superficial spirituality and do deep introspection.

“I meet people all the time that want to get engaged in racial reconciliation. But it requires a deep relationship with Jesus and having done some serious inner work on your own family of origin and culture. In general, American Christianity tends to be program- and numbers-driven and that doesn’t deeply change people,” the Queens pastor said.

Jones focused on the issue of agendas, saying that for Christians to truly be engaged in finding ways to positively impact and uplift their communities, they need to put their agendas aside.

“I have this … vision of us becoming the ones who rebuild the ancient ruins and raise up the age-old foundations and be called the repairers of the breach. How do you do that? You have to first put down your agenda,” Jones said. “If you don’t put down your agendas you cannot pick up the cause of restoration for this country, for your people, for your community or for your church. That to me is the first step that has to be taken.”

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SOURCE: The Christian Post
Nicola Menzie

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