Check this great message given by Christian rapper Propoganda
Check this great message given by Christian rapper Propoganda
This is a re-post from my colleague Greg Strand from his blog Strands of Thought.
This four minute video, entitled “Empathy” was produced by the Cleveland Clinic and presented by the health care organization’s CEO at his annual State of the Clinic address. (In including this video, I am only highlighting the video, and not saying anything about the institution or organization.)
Though no words are spoken, the video highlights people in the hospital with captions of what each individual is thinking or feeling. It concludes with a the following question: If you could stand in someone else’s shoes… Hear what they hear. See what they see. Feel what they feel. Would you treat them differently?
Though this is not a distinctively Christian video, it is quite powerful. And as a Christian, it conveys powerful truths that are rooted in Christian truth, beginning with the dignity of all human beings as they are created in the imago Dei, the image of God. We are called to love and care for all human beings, especially those who are of the household of faith (Gal. 6:9-10).
It is important to keep two key truths before us – one from the life of the Lord Jesus, and one from an exhortation from Paul.
Jesus: “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matt. 9:36; cf. Matt. 14:14; 15:32; 20:34; Mk. 1:41; 6:34; 8:2).
Paul: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep” (Rom. 12:15).
Wow! Pleasantly surprised by the number of views and comments regarding my post March 15th. Maybe the most encouraging thing about the conversation I have observed going on the blog, on several Facebook pages, and offline is that it is positive.
I call it “grown-up” conversation around the topic of race and our faith. As a 20+ year veteran of such conversations, let me say that “grown-up” conversations on this topic are nothing to take for granted. In fact I consider them acts of God
As I have reflected here is the tension I see being wrestled with. One of my colleagues who pastors in the south said this during a Facebook group discussion:
I do hear a growing awareness and desire among missional leaders. However there is still a lot of hesitancy and ignorance on what it [multi-ethnicity] does or can look like.
I think he is on to something. Nowadays I run into very few evangelicals that are against multi-ethnicity. Believe me there was a day when this was not the case. Here is a very common scenario.
I go to a gathering and make a presentation. Some leaders come up to me and describe their ministry context. Typically it is a discussion around 2 things: the changing demographics of their community and the intent of their heart. They really, really would like to be multi-ethnic. They just don’t know how to get there. So I begin to offer some advice to help them begin the journey.
It never fails that at some point in the discussion an “oh crap” look comes over their face. I liken it to the conversation Jesus had with the rich young ruler in Mark 10:17-27. That guy went away sad for one of 2 reasons – either he realized he wasn’t up to the task or he was up to the task and he realized how hard it was going to be to do what Jesus told him.
I would say that most ministries that practice multi-ethnicity have to work really hard to get it. Those that don’t have to work hard 100% of the time are just reaping what has organically already happened in their community. For instance if you minister in Southern California being multi-ethnic is like hunting at the zoo. For the majority of us its not that easy.
And that is where the “oh crap” face comes in. During our conversations these leaders begin to realize that multi-ethnicity is not a simple thing. They realize that it’s not just a matter of having good intentions and being someone who welcomes diversity.
After the “oh crap” face comes the “bail out” technique. I have some leaders say things like “if it happens naturally, great.” When I hear such talk it is a red flag that really they aren’t going to work that hard to see multi-ethnicity happen. They want to be multi-ethnic but don’t want to do multi-ethnic.
I push back and say “what other thing that you desire to see happen in your ministry do you leave up to chance?” For instance no one says “if our budget is met naturally, great.”
When decision makers want something to happen they take as many definitive actions as possible to ensure within the best of their ability that the goal is met. So here is my “Final 4″ of what is required to move beyond good intentions and “do “muti-ethnic ministry:
I tweeted the title of this post earlier this week. I had a lot of retweets and backroom dialog about it. So through this post I am bringing the conversation to the blogosphere. However, for me it wasn’t a clever tweet but a real question. I don’t know if we are. I think that it is critical we start.
What I mean by pointing out that we have a Black President and a Latino Pope is not a political statement or one on the Catholic Church. What I am pointing out is that race now more than ever matters. It means something for an institution to give a person of color authority.
What scares me about the evangelical church is that most are still not convinced that it does. I live in Cincinnati and there is a great quote about the city attributed to Mark Twain. Twain allegedly said that “When the world ends I want to be in Cincinnati, because Cincinnati is 20 years behind the times.” I feel that is the present state of evangelicalism when it comes to race.
The buzzword today that I hear a lot is “missional.” You would be hard pressed to go to a popular Christian conference and not hear it. The presenters frame being missional in terms of reaching a post-Christian culture, not being so caught up in politics, paying more attention to the younger generation, and issuing a call back to discipleship.
These aren’t bad things. But rarely do I ever hear a strong call to multi-ethnicity. And to be quite honest it both saddens and baffles me. It saddens me because it is clear the Scriptures command the body of Christ to make disciples among all nations (ethnic people). But set theology aside for a minute.
To be missional is to be on mission for God to reach people for Christ, right? Is anybody looking at our nation’s demographics? We are a rapidly ethnically diversifying country by using any metric. How on earth do so many people put the call out for a revitalization of the evangelical church and NOT see that it must become more inclusive of other ethnicities? If the mission field is becoming more racially diverse, should not the solution include race as well?
And when it is mentioned, too often the conversation is one of passive-aggressiveness. I’m Facebook friends with Dr. Soong-Chan Rah of North Park Seminary and he has a interesting conversation going on his wall. He is researching evangelical perceptions of the city and how ministry to the city is defined by white evangelicals with little to no input from non-whites.
The results are disappointing. He has cited several very well known groups that would be defined as “missional” and found that when it comes to the topic of reconciliation, there is a very distinct pattern. He wrote:
Often ‘minority’ voices are used to sprinkle flavor over the existing dominant [white] perspective. In other words, we’ve [whites] set the parameters of the discussion, we’ve [whites] set out the main points, and now we [whites] want a minority voice to give a bit of spice but ultimately affirm the dominant voice. I think all sides, progressive, conservative are guilty of this type of thinking.
We can’t call ourselves to be missional in a rapidly browning of America and continue to operate in this fashion. So I throw this out there for dialog: Why does ethnicity continue to be left out of the missional conversation?
Today let’s look at reconciliation through a lens that is rarely used – generational. One way this schism manifests itself is in views towards singleness. Not all singles are younger, but in many churches there is a tension between the 18-29 demographic (which increasingly puts marriage off) and the 30+ one, which traditionally got married much younger. Which way is right?
A huge percentage of our population has only failed examples of marriage to aspire towards. It’s no wonder, then, that men and women prolong their premarital relationships—often moving in together—just to make sure their significant other is whom they want to be with for the long-haul. So what’s the approach to take in a culture where singles are putting off marriage? Learn what one twenty-something leader has to say about this question.
A great short video reflection on a quote from Henry Nouwen from my friends at urban entry.
When we try to address injustices in our communities by giving out food to the poor, tutor kids, and lobby city hall it would be a travesty if not done from a place of righteousness. If we don’t do these things because we want to be a witness for our Lord we will be just another run of the mill NGO. As great as NGO’s are Christ didn’t die on the cross for us to be one.
One of my favorite professors in seminary would always discuss the most important part of our ministry. It wasn’t strategy or skill set, although those things are important. It was the lost art of being with God. In reconciliation work we cannot lose sight of this fact.
I call it a lost art because doing justice ministry by its very nature requires that we are change agents. Change agents don’t like to “be” anything; we “do”. When you get a group of us in the room debates are had, plans get written, and things get done. This is all great but we must be careful to “do” based on being with God.
This morning I read 1 Peter 1:14-16 which admonishes us to “Be holy, because I am holy”. Holy is not something that you can do. It is something you have to be. It is the one thing that must happen every single day in your journey of reconciliation.
When we think about the skills we use to make the world a better place, if we rely only on those skills we are not being Godly. When I preach, if I haven’t been spending time with God in prayer and Scripture study my sermon is just another speech. And unfortunately you can build a church numerically in our country by being a great speech giver.
The church might even grow to be the biggest church in the community; but I can guarantee you it won’t be the best church for the community. The best churches for the community has nothing to do with numbers, but it has everything to do with how much time its members have been in the presence of God.
So Mr. and Mrs. Christian activist, make sure you are a human being before you are a human doing.
I’ll never forget years ago a situation that happened when I was pastoring. The week the Bush/Gore election results were final at Bible study I did our normal go around the circle and ask for prayer and praise requests.
One of my white members stated as a praise that God put His man in the White House. About 5 minutes later an African American woman arrived. As she sat down I asked her what her praises/prayer requests were. She said with passion “we need to pray for God’s protection because the devil is in the White House!”
Talk about a potentially volatile situation. In a multi-ethnic ministry minefields like that are all around. A big part of leading multi-ethnic ministry is our ability to relate to others. With the reality of racialization, having high relational skills is a must. It is the key to a healthy multi-ethnic ministry.
What does it mean to relate in a healthy way across racial lines? It means to be comfortable with cultural negotiation, ok with agreeing to disagree, becoming a master of keeping your own emotions in check, and being willing to forgive. If we do not master these skills we will not be able to diffuse potentially potent situations like the one I described in my story.
You will have people who want you to take up their cause and lead you into their emotional issues that are based on their racial, social class, and/or gender identity. As leaders we must be wary of this and make sure we approach things with an even keel. Our leadership must not cater to the whims of people.
It must be acknowledged that we will think differently at times based on our racial identity, and that is ok. It is the emotionally immature that demand that everyone thinks the same way about all things. As leaders we can’t give in to this type of demand.
Bad relational skills have the potential to drag the whole ministry into divisiveness. It makes people pick a side. This leads to a simmering racial tension that if not addressed will lie just beneath the surface, always ready to explode.
To diffuse potential volatile situations I believe it is best to talk candidly. As leaders we need to model how people can disagree and yet still honor one another in the Lord. We need to build an environment that allows space for racial differences about issues to be navigated.
Here is the rest of the story. Before we started Bible study, as a group we talked about why one person thought Bush was God’s anointed and another thought he was the devil. We hashed out why different racial groups supported different political parties.
Then we prayed and studied the word together in unity.
If you pay attention to politics you know the big deal our country is facing is balancing the budget. The National Association of Evangelicals believes that budgets are moral documents and in partnership with others have put together a statement as to why we need to protect programs for the poor. Here are 8 principles they have outlined:
See the full statement here and join me in signing it.
Today is International Women’s Day. Women are lovely, important, and wonderfully made in God’s image. There are so many considerable things to say about women and their substantial contribution to the establishment of the gospel. Many of us can directly trace our faith to a dedicated woman of God.
I’ve had the privilege of speaking at many Christian universities over the years. One of the things I always try to work into my message is a direct challenge to the young women in the audience, which is this – get a bigger vision for your life than trying to get your M.R.S. degree.
As a father of 2 daughters my wife and I are very sensitive to the constant messages they receive that their worth is determined by what some male thinks about them. When my wife talks about fashion, she says pick out clothing that is honoring towards God not what some boy thinks looks sexy. I tell them don’t operate on the assumption that you are going to get married one day – God may have something great for you to do that may require you stay single.
When a blessed and significant work is to be done in our world, at times it can be forgotten by us men that women are eligible to be God’s instruments as well. Ephesians 2:10 makes it clear that every man and woman has works to do for God. I believe it grieves God’s heart when leaders overlook the talents and contributions of someone simply because they are a woman.
God clearly has no problem using women to spread the gospel. Remember it was Mary Magdalene that provided the first witness of the risen Christ. Christ was a champion of women and Paul also speaks of women who worked with him in spreading the gospel. From the beginning of our faith there have always been women charged with reaching our world for His glory.
These dedicated women come in many forms. It’s the mother who decided to stay at home and be a homemaker instead of pursuing a career. Or the one who went out and worked however many jobs were needed to keep the household together in the midst of being abandoned by an irresponsible man.
It’s the single woman who never married and dedicated her life to serving in an under resourced community or in a gospel-hostile country somewhere in the world. I’ve always told my spouse the hardest job in the church is being the pastor’s wife. There are just so many examples of women who because of their faith the world became a better place.
So in honor of International Women’s Day, let’s do some reflection. What women role models have influenced you the most?