Toward Racial Reconciliation

Our churches today tend to be divided along racial lines. Thankfully, the lines are not as stiff as they once were. But still, if you walk into a church, you are going to find it predominately made up of one race.

But there is an unfortunate development in many churches: we all may be one church, but we subgroup ourselves into racial unites. For example, the church I grew up at had the majority white church, but also a small Hispanic church and a “neighborhood” church (i.e. the black church). Even though all these ministries meet every Sunday, hardly anyone from one church talks to the people from the other church. Worse, the attitude toward the minority churches sometimes was patriarchal–we were the spiritually mature ones who were helping the poor, benighted souls who weren’t on our level.

Certainly, there is a language divide. No argument here. Also the cultural divide is equally as real. But does this preclude us from meeting together as the body of Christ? Like I said, we never interacted. Never. And that church is not alone in this practice.

Here is what I suggest as a way to overcome this kind of patriarchal view of things. We need to celebrate the Lord’s Supper together. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 10:16-17,

Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a sharing in the body of Christ? Since there is one bread, we who are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread.

One of the purposes of the Lord’s Supper is to show the unity of the church. We all unite together because we all are one in Christ. We all are equally sinners, equally saved, and equally sanctified. While we have different talents and positions along with cultures and experiences, we are the same at the core of our being. As diverse racial groups, we can show our unity in Christ by holding this Table together.

I suggest that those churches which have these small plants find a time to celebrate our unity together. Each of the ethnicities should be present to show this unity. And each group in turn could lead the ceremony. This will have a humbling effect on the majority culture, it is true. But it is necessary because our culture does not define who we are and we need to be reminded of that.

The language barrier should be no problem for two reasons. First, if you have been a Christian for any length of time, you know the meaning of the Supper. Second, have someone translate. There is not much liturgy (in the protestant tradition) that would extend the service time too much.

If your church does not have other church plants, consider teaming up with another church in town which is not from your culture. This will help you as a church grow in your solidarity in Christ.

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