Culture

38 Resources to Help Your Church Start Discussing Race Today

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The tragedies across the US over the past few weeks have brought issues of race to the forefront of conversations in the media and in homes.

While this issue may be too big to ignore, it may also feel too overwhelming for local churches to discuss. Understanding race in the US also means understanding centuries of history, politics, philosophy and personal experience.

Churches should not opt-out of this discussion! We represent God’s new kingdom, but we can only do that within our time and place. For Christians in the US, the church must respond to the current and historical realities of race by prophetically speaking against sin, promoting reconciliation and embodying a new way of being truly human.

This list is a combination of thoughtful articles that have been published by Missio Alliance over the years, as well as additional books, podcasts and articles on the subjects of race, racial reconciliation and multicultural churches.

Is this list missing an important resource? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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Missio Alliance Articles

Race in America

On Violence and Living in a “Racialized” Society

“Right now, I need to hear old spirituals that give me hope and remind me to persevere in the midst of these troubles. Other than a contemplative prayer or a practice of spiritual discipline, I need there not to be silence from my white sisters and brothers.” Natasha Sistrunk Robinson

“I am a racist”

“White men’s ways of thinking and operating built into its power structures. There is a socio-cultural history that dates back to at least the 15th century that makes me blind to the ways my life is advantaged in society. Therefore I am a racist.” David Fitch

The Diaspora of Minorities within White Evangelicalism

“My blackness is not something that I can simply ‘get over;’ it is every bit a part of my being, it is how God has chosen me to present myself to the world every day, and that is good.” Natasha Sistrunk Robinson

Let’s Talk About Race 

“Probably one of the most life-changing things I ever learned was this: race isn’t about skin color, it’s about power.” Johny Craig

A #TrulyHuman Story of Race and Restoration

“My story is the story of an underprivileged black man teaching an overprivileged white man how to be a better person.” Mark Moore

Race, Gender, Justice: How Should the Church Respond When People Reach the Boiling Point?

“Boiling occurs as the result of putting on a lid.” Kris Beckert

Confessions of a Taiwanese-American White Supremacist in Recovery

“Although I didn’t think in these terms back then, I came to uphold whiteness and white evangelical culture in particular as the standard-bearers for just about everything – relating styles, social sensibilities, priorities, faith expressions, music, books, movies, theology, and so much more.” Judy Dominick

Ferguson, WWI, and Reconstruction

“We need an interior revolution that starts within communities and homes…not an imposed mandate from an institution.” Noah Stepro

Revolutionary Love: The Weapon of Choice for Dr. King and the Church

“Dr. King had both liberation and conversion on his mind and in his heart as he served.” Efrem Smith

Multi-Ethnic Church

It’s Time We Finally Asked: Why Multiethnic?

“We are part of the Church today because of God’s value for multiethnicity.” Ruthie Johnson

The Myths of Multiculturalism in the Church

“Our worship and fellowship together should look more like heaven is going to look—both diverse and unified.” Tracey Lewis-Giggetts

Beyond Black and White: Dr. John Perkins, The Ecclesia, and Reconciliation

“We are beginning to recognize that this conversation isn’t about who is or isn’t leaving or leading the church, but rather who we are as the Church.”  Ruthie Johnson

Diversity Is Not Enough

“This leaves many feeling like diversity is just another church growth strategy instead of an authentic means to bring about reconciliation in the body of Christ. It has to be the latter.” Ebony Adedayo

Diversity Is Not Nice

“The lack of diversity in evangelicalism continues as a problem because everyone believes diversity is a good idea—it’s loving, politically correct, the way of Jesus, it’s shows tolerance and we are not that bad of a people— but it is not quite necessary.” Natasha Sistrunk Robinson

Books

Race in America

Let Justice Roll Down by John Perkins

The story of John Perkins is no ordinary story. Rather, it is a gripping portrayal of what happens when faith thrusts a person into the midst of a struggle against racism, oppression, and injustice. It is about the costs of discipleship–the jailings, the floggings, the despair, the sacrifice.

Red, Brown, Yellow, Black, White, Who’s More Precious In God’s Sight?: A call for diversity in Christian missions and ministry by Leroy Barber

Drawing upon two decades of mission experience, Leroy Barber exposes the racial divisions within Christian ministries and offers practical and comprehensive solutions for promoting diversity.

The Cross and the Lynching Tree by James Cone

The cross and the lynching tree are the two most emotionally charged symbols in the history of the African American community. In this powerful new work, theologian James H. Cone explores these symbols and their interconnection in the history and souls of black folk.

Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Hailed by Toni Morrison as “required reading,” a bold and personal literary exploration of America’s racial history by “the single best writer on the subject of race in the United States.”

Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism by Drew Hart

In this provocative book, theologian and blogger Drew G. I. Hart places police brutality, mass incarceration, antiblack stereotypes, poverty, and everyday acts of racism within the larger framework of white supremacy. Leading readers toward Jesus, Hart offers concrete practices for churches that seek solidarity with the oppressed and are committed to racial justice.

Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times by Soong-Chan Rah

Soong-Chan Rah planted an urban church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, his first full sermon series was a six-week exposition of the book of Lamentations.

The Christian Imagination: Theology and the Origins of Race by Wilie James Jennings

Why has Christianity, a religion premised upon neighborly love, failed in its attempts to heal social divisions?  In this ambitious and wide-ranging work, Willie James Jennings delves deep into the late medieval soil in which the modern Christian imagination grew, to reveal how Christianity’s highly refined process of socialization has inadvertently created and maintained segregated societies.

White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Racial Divide by Carol Anderson

As Ferguson, Missouri, erupted in August 2014, and media commentators across the ideological spectrum referred to the angry response of African Americans as “black rage,” historian Carol Anderson wrote a remarkable op-ed in the Washington Post showing that this was, instead, “white rage at work. With so much attention on the flames,” she writes, “everyone had ignored the kindling.”

Multi-Ethnic Church

Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Emerson and Smith

Through a nationwide telephone survey of 2,000 people and an additional 200 face-to-face interviews, Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith probed the grassroots of white evangelical America.

The High Definition Leader: Building Multiethnic Churches in a Multiethnic World by Derwin Gray

The High-Definition Leader is an invitation of grace for churches and their leaders to grasp the ancient call of the early New Testament Church that crossed ethnic and socioeconomic barriers to create heavenly colonies of love, reconciliation, and unity on earth. In it, you will learn the theology and practices that will help you build a mission-shaped, multi-ethnic church.

Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland

Despite Jesus’ prayer that all Christians “be one,” divisions have been epidemic in the body of Christ from the beginning to the present.

Roadmap to Reconciliation: Moving Communities into Unity, Wholeness and Justice by Brenda Salter McNeil

We can see the injustice and inequality in our lives and in the world. We are ready to rise up. But how, exactly, do we do this? How does one reconcile? What we need is a clear sense of direction.

United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity by Trillia J. Newbell

On the Last Day every tongue and tribe will be represented in the glorious chorus praising God with one voice. Yet today our churches remain segregated. Can we reflect the beauty of the last day this day?

Audio

Grappling With Race and Reconciliation as Resurrected Sons and Daughters

Leroy Barber, Helen Lee, Brenda Salter McNeil and Brian Zahnd discuss how recent events and ensuing conversations have shone a brighter light on the extent to which many of our churches reinforce division along racial lines. By focusing on our resurrection identity, we can become a force for reconciliation.

Cultivating A Resurrected Witness Together (Brenda Salter McNeil)

While re-imagining the resurrectional life has a direct bearing upon our individual lives as disciples, the full weight and significance of those implications is dynamically related to the contexts and communities we are a part of.

Power, Privilege & Class: Barriers & Possibilities Under Christ’s Resurrected Lordship 

David Bailey (host), Corey Widmer, Dennis Edwards, Cote Soerens, Lisa Sharon Harper discuss Issues and systems of power, privilege, and class are cultural realities that contribute to brokenness and injustice at interpersonal and societal levels.

Planting Missional, Kingdom-Oriented, Multi-Ethnic, Multi-Socioeconomic Churches

Don Coleman and Kevin Haah discuss how God’s Kingdom embraces people of all ethnicities, cultures, and socio-economic status.

Michelle Higgins on That Sermon at Urbana

Michelle is the director of Faith for Justice in St. Louis. Late last year Michelle spoke at Urbana 2015, one of the largest student missions conferences in the world, her sermon was talked about online for months after the conference ended. Some found her words controversial and others found their hearts stirred.

Derwin Gray on Playing in the NFL, Money, & the Challenges of a Multiethnic Church

Derwin L. Gray is the founding and Lead Pastor of Transformation Church (www.TransformationChurch.tc), a multi-ethnic, multi-generational, mission-shaped community with two campuses in South Carolina (Indian Land and Rock Hill), both just south of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Drew Hart, Author of “Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church Views Racism”

Drew G.I. Hart is a blogger, theologian, and activist. His blog is hosted by Christian Century, and he speaks regularly at churches, universities, and seminaries.

Best of Seminary Dropout: Grace Sandra

In the interview we talk about the concept of privilege and racial reconciliation in light of the Gospel.

Natasha Sistrunk Robinson on Jesus, Leadership, and Race

Natasha Sistrunk Robinson is a leader, speaker, writer, and anti-human trafficking advocate. She has studied education in racial reconciliation, prayer and fasting, and biblical justice.

Black and White: Racism in America (The Liturgists)

Michael Gungor and Science Mike talk with Propaganda and William Matthews about race, racism, white supremacy in America.

Race and the Kingdom: Interview with Derwin Gray (Scot McKnight’s Kingdom Roots)

The Church in America, unfortunately, has remained one of the most segregated organizations instead of being a vision for unity and diversity. Pastor Derwin Gray and Transformation Church is a shining light of how the Church can be the type of diverse community it was intended to be.

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