What should elders and church leaders do about racism? As though COVID-19 wasn’t enough as an attack on the biological front, racism is an attack on the very essence of human nature. Both are causing havoc in our world today, not just in the U.S. but also around the world. What can, what should elders do about all this? How shall we lead the flock of God during this tumultuous time? The answers are not easy to come by.
Biblical Eldership Resources is an equipping ministry for elders and church leaders. We are not a “theological” think tank; we are laser-focused on promoting eldership and building up elders and potential leaders in the local church. We are careful to avoid sectarian and theological issues that will detract from our mandate to build up leadership in the local church. At times that can be difficult when the issues affect the whole church, and people adapt differing viewpoints passionately. In dealing with any issue, our goal is to address things from the perspective of not telling elders and church leaders what to think about these issues, but helping them learn how to shepherd their congregations in dealing with those issues.
The topic we are addressing in this issue of the Passing the Baton blog is the racial and ethnic tensions that have boiled over in North America (which seems to have ignited or at least fomented outrage around the world as well). Racial, ethnic, and religions tensions have occurred throughout history: apartheid in South Africa, Catholic/Protestant tensions in Ireland, tribal and religious conflicts throughout Africa and the Middle East, prejudice against Asians, first-peoples’ reclamation of their lands and sovereignty, and a host of many other conflicts. Most blaringly, the political-social issue of Black Lives Matter has roared to the surface. The racism resulting from a history of slavery and oppression in the West has produced a simmering anger that has boiled over into rioting and radical movements against authoritarian structures.
At BER, we recognize there are many perspectives on social justice and how Christians should respond to this issue. Without doubt, things need to change. But what? And how? As Christians we are to rise above and see things from God’s perspective: How does the gospel change things? Is the gospel enough? What can we do? What should we do?
The issue can be confusing to elders in the local church, whose time is consumed with shepherding the flock of God under their care and who also, in many cases, have secular jobs, immediate and extended family responsibilities, and individual ministries. BER has readers from across the globe in varying situations, facing different needs and stresses and issues. So we cannot possibly give a comprehensive set of videos or teaching to cover every permutation of the difficulties involved.
We want to emphasize this: elders of local churches are accountable to the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28), not to the consensus of Christian thought, whether liberal or conservative. So, each elder and church leader, in good conscience, must know what he believes on this subject and why—and be able to help guide his respective congregations through the issue and what their church should do about it.
To that end, we are presenting here a list of articles that elders may find helpful for understanding the issue of racism and how the church should respond. We have included articles from recognized and respected teachers. Even if you disagree with a writer, we encourage you to listen and try to understand what they are saying and what they mean by what they say. It may be that the biggest part of the elder’s work on this issue is understanding differing viewpoints and giving people in your congregations a place to talk, where they know their fears, concerns and perspectives are being heard by godly leaders.
We cannot simply preach a message, “thus saith the Lord,” when Christians disagree. But, we must understand so that we can dialogue intelligently and give godly counsel that is not only Biblical but also relevant to the issues and nuances that proliferate on the issue of racism. To that end, we have included some resources to simply help you understand “the other” perspectives. Nothing will undermine an elders influence more than to make proclamation about the issue and completely miss the mark, not addressing the real issues.
Here is our initial list to stimulate those of you who want to think more deeply about the issue of racism and to help your congregation to think more biblically and relevantly. We have divided the list by categories to help you get to what you need the most. (Thanks to Ben Mathew for supplying many of the references below.)
Developing a Biblical Theology of Racial Reconciliation:
- Bloodlines, by John Piper
- From Every People and Nation: A Biblical Theology of Race, by J. Daniel Hays
- United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity,by Trillia Newbell
- One New Man: The Cross and Racial Reconciliation in Pauline Theology, by Jarvis Williams
- Does Diversity in the Church Even Matter?, by J.D. Greear – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
- Multi-Ethnic Churches, Multiple Authors on 9Marks Journal
- Four Ways the New Testament Identifies Ethnicity in the Church, by Thabiti Anyabwile
- What the Diverse Church in Antioch Can Teach Us Today, by Dan Steel
- Three Reasons Why Christians Should Reject “Blacks Lives Matter”
- Black Lives Matter: The Slogan vs. the Organization, by Marvin Olasky
- Statement on Social Justice
- Biblical Racial Reconciliation, Tony Evans & Darrell Bock
- Kainos Movement: Ephesians 2, Bryan Loritts
- Can’t Afford to be Colorblind, John Piper
Understanding the Problem of Racism: Individually and Corporately:
- The Sin of Racism, by Tim Keller
- Racial Reconciliation: What We (Mostly, Almost) All Agree On, and What We (Likely) Still Don’t Agree On, by Kevin DeYoung
- Is Black Lives Matter the New Civil Rights Movement?, by Mike Edmondson
- 4 Reasons You Shouldn’t be Colorblind, by Trillia Newbell
- What is Systemic Racism, by Tony Evans
- Racism and Corporate Evil: A White Guy’s Perspective– Tim Keller
- A House Divided Cannot Stand: Understanding and Overcoming the Inconsistencies in White Evangelicals on Racial Issues, by Matt Chandler
- Why I as a Black man attend Ku Klux Klan meetings, by Daryl Davis
- Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man, by Emmanuel Acho (a series of videos)
Helping Elders/Pastors/Leadership to move Churches towards Biblical Racial Reconciliation and Multiethnic Ministry:
- Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church: Mandate, Commitments and Practices of a Diverse Congregation, by Mark DeYmaz
- United by Faith: The Multiracial Congregation As an Answer to the Problem of Race, by Curtiss DeYoung, George Yancy, Michael Emerson and Karen Kim
- Beyond Racial Gridlock: Embracing Mutual Responsibility, by George Yancey
- The Color of Church: A Biblical and Practical Paradigm for Multiracial Churches, by Rodney Woo
- Many Colors: Cultural Intelligence for a Changing Church, by Soong-Chan Rah
- A New Day for Multiracial Congregations, by Michael Emerson
- How the Country’s Largest White Presbyterian Church Became Multiethnic, by Sarah Zylstra
- The Headache and Hope of Multi-Ethnic Ministry, by Adam Mabry
- Re-Thinking Homogeneity: The Biblical Case for Multi-Ethnic Churches, by Aubrey Sequeira
- How and Why Bethlehem Pursues Ethnic Diversity, John Piper
- How to Determine If Your Church Is Multiethnic, by Joe Carter
- Jesus is Not Colorblind, by Cole Brown
- The Church: A Display of God’s Manifold Wisdom, by Juan Sanchez
- How Can Churches Become More Multicultural or Multiethnic?, by D.A. Horton
- Useful Practices For Building A Multi-Ethnic Church, by Derwin Gray
- Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church, by Mark DeyMaz
- The Church without Walls: How God Can Use the Unified Church to Serve Our Divided Communities, by Ralph West