For A Time, Such As This
by Kevin C. Brown
Founder, Lead Pastor of The Perfecting Church, Sewell, NJ
The Glocal Family of Churches is comprised of churches from as far North as Toronto and as far South as Houston, TX. Our churches are as different as these two cities themselves, led by pastors from different ethnic, cultural, socio-economic and denominational backgrounds. But each of us have attended a church planting cohort created by Bob Roberts, the founder of Glocal.net, and we have embraced the commitment to relate together as family; establish church planting centers in our churches; mobilize our members to use their jobs and passions to serve the most vulnerable in our cities; and to mobilize our members to make a long-term commitment to serve as a church in a challenging part of the world. These commitments, along with a commitment to see the Kingdom of God become a tangible reality in the domains of society in our respective cities, have given very different churches, led by very different pastors, in very different parts of the country — the same spiritual DNA.
Due to the unique contexts in which our churches exist most of our local and global efforts to love our neighbors and be a tangible expression of the Kingdom of God have looked very different. But in the last several years we have been confronted with the reality of an inordinate number of police related fatalities taking place across our nation’s cities, highlighting the racial divide still haunting this country. These events have caused us, as a family of churches, to think deeply about how to respond to a shared crisis ravaging our country. Mark DeYmaz a recognized leader in the Multi-ethnic Church Movement (Bob Robert’s Northwood Church will host his 3rd national multi-ethnic church conference November 1st – 3rd http://www.mosaix2016.com), preached recently at Northwood Church and said these prophetic words, “God is not going to use the Church to fix the race problem. He’s going to use the race problem to fix the Church.”
I believe God is sovereignly at work revealing the collective heart of this nation. Those of us who are followers of Jesus should have a shared world-view regardless of our ethnicity and culture. We are called to be our brother’s keeper (Genesis 4:9). We are called to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). We have been made one new man in Christ (Ephesians 2:15). But like the Constitution and the Emancipation Proclamation, legal documents that call for equality, even the scriptures are incomplete when left applied only to paper and not to the heart. I agree with Mark DeYmaz. The race problem is forcing the church to see itself in ways that it hasn’t before.
The church is still predominately segregated. Among all of the churches in the United States, 86.3 percent fail to have at least 20 percent diversity in their congregations; churches are 10 times more segregated than their communities and 20 times more segregated than nearby public schools. Dr. King wrote from a Birmingham jail fifty-three years ago in response to a public statement by eight Alabama clergymen (http://www.massresistance.org/docs/gen/09a/mlk_day/statement.html), “I am in Birmingham because injustice is here. Just as the eighth-century prophets left their little villages and carried their “thus saith the Lord” far beyond the boundaries of their hometowns; and just as the Apostle Paul left his little village of Tarsus and carried the gospel of Jesus Christ to practically every hamlet and city of the Greco-Roman world, I too am compelled to carry the gospel of freedom beyond my particular hometown. Like Paul, I must constantly respond to the Macedonian call for aid.” (http://www.africa.upenn.edu/Articles_Gen/Letter_Birmingham.html)
Like Dr. King, we as members of Christ’s body, must become intentional about racial reconciliation and unity within the church and continue to work to see it become a reality outside of the church. The spirit of the brothers who wrote and published that letter in 1963, cautioning Dr. King’s importunity, suggesting that he wait for time to right the wrongs, is still alive telling us the same thing about ending segregation in the church. I’ve talked to people of various ethnicities that tell me they prefer the black church, the white church, the asian church and so on. The truth of the matter is, there is no such thing. God’s Church is as diverse as His family — the church is His Kingdom family here in the earth. It’s our preferences and prejudices that have created what we see in 86.3 percent of the churches in America today. So what are we to do?
As The Glocal Church Family we are making A Declaration In Support of Multi-Ethnic Churches & Racial Healing (http://www.theperfectingchurch.org/download/GlocalNet_Family_Manifesto_on_Race.pdf). Jesus prayed for the unity of His church. He proclaimed the identifying mark of His divinity and our relationship as His children would be our unity in Him and our love for one another (John 13:35, John 17:21). He did not suggest this unity would happen simply through preaching or programs, but that it would come as we intentionally live and worship together as one. He gave His life for our peace and unity in Him. We vow to give our lives for the same.
Lead Pastor of The Perfecting Church in Atco, New Jersey www.theperfectingchurch.org