In our sermon on the gospel, race, and unity from Ephesians 2, we have 5 applications to walk in unity and fight for oneness in diversity. The third is to diversify our learning.
My family and I are big time Disney fanatics. An all time great Disney movie is Pocahontas. In the song, "Colors of the Wind," Pocahontas has a line that has always stuck with me.
"You think the only people who are people, are the people who look and think like you. But if you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you'll learn things you never knew you never knew."
There are many benefits from taking a walk in another person's shoes, assuming the posture of a learner, and allowing others to teach us things we never knew. One of the biggest contributors to racial division in the church is ignorance. The reality is that we simply don't know that much about people who are different than us, and it hinders our ability to consider one another. Often times we offend each other or are insensitive towards each other because of a lack of awareness concerning the differences in our lives. We also miss opportunities to positively support or encourage each other because we have no idea what each other's burdens are. A large problem is that many of us get the majority of our theology, our history, our news, and our world view from people who look and think like us. This further entrenches our ignorance concerning others and our ethnocentrism. A lot of times we can go our whole lives, be discipled, even lead in the church and never have our blind spots pointed out to us. We can go our whole lives assuming that our way of seeing things or explaining things is the only correct way to do so, and anything that is different isn't just different, but unorthodox. So, in our aim to live life in unity with brothers and sisters who are different than us, it is vital to have our perspectives opened to different learning sources. It's vital to humbly recognize that there are countless brothers and sisters from ethnic tribes other than our own who make significant contributions to scholarship and theological formation. (Romans 12:3)
The body of Christ Is multi-faceted, the spirit of God has gifted brothers and sisters with many good gifts to edify the body. As the family of God we should desire to know, hear from, and engage with all family members. We can't truly be family until all are heard and make unique contributions. This is especially relevant to the conversation of unity because what is fundamental to unity in the body of Christ is consideration or awareness. (Philippians 2:1-3) When we are aware we can take necessary steps of either repentance or intentionality, to build true gospel community.
One of our community group leaders took a small step of adding more minority influences on his social media. This simple step caused him to be exposed to different books. Different preachers. Different views on social issues. In all of these, he confesses it has made him a better leader, someone who is more aware of things in himself that limited his ability to make disciples cross culturally and pursue unity with brothers and sisters from all walks of life. He has sought out conversations with people and taken steps towards more authentic community. A simple change in sources that shaped his thinking lead him to fight for gospel centered community. I believe all who are serious about racial unity will make similar changes.
The following is a very short list of minority authors, pastors, and theologians that could help diversify our learning. These are resources that will help us grow and use as tools in discipleship.
- Justo L. Gonzalez- "Christianity in Latin America."- Sugel Michelen - "De parte De Dios y delante De Dios" (English: from God and before God)- Juan Sanchez- "1 Peter For You: Offering real joy on our journey through this world"- "Seven Dangers Facing Your Church"- Juan Stam- "HACIENDO TEOLOGIA EN AMERICA LATINA JUAN STAM UN TEOLOGO DEL CAMINO" (Doing Theology in Latin America) - http://sdejesucristo.org - Bryan Loritts -"Right Color Wrong Culture" - Derwin Gray - "HD Leader"- Tony Evans - "Embracing Oneness"- Beverly Daniel Tatum -"Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?: And Other Conversations About Race"- Ralph Ellison- "Invisible Man"- Miguel Nuñez - Tony Evans- Bryan Loritts- Derwin Gray- Dhati Lewis- Eric Mason- Thabiti Anyabwile- Kevin Jones- Ben Watson- John Perkins- DA Horton- Trillia Newbell- Jackie Hill Perry- Priscilla Shirer- Jo Saxton- Rasool Berry- Duke Kwan- Jamar Tisby- Charlie Dates- HB Charles- Bryan Carter
In the latest episode of stories in discipleship we sit down with Susan Rademaker. Susan is a faithful member at Fegenbush Campus and testifies that d-groups have lit a fire in her walk with Christ and helped her grow. You can hear her story here.
Pastor, Author, and disciple maker Dhati Lewis shares his major principles for disciple making. These come from his book, "Among Wolves" which I would recommend to all who are serious about being on mission with Jesus.