May We Come In?

This is addressed to White Christians in America.

It is for those attending a predominantly white Church, or a church with a white pastor. It is intended as well for the many unaffiliated white Christians, the Nones, young and old, who have stopped going to church altogether.

Dear Fellow White Christians:

Find a new church. In a Black community. With an African American pastor. If getting to a black church is a problem logistically, hire a black pastor for your church. Gently, very gently, tell your white pastor to step down and take a lesser role.

This will be the first time many of us have been in an African American church, so let’s make sure we mind our manners. Sit in the back pews if there is any room at all; unlike white churches, many black churches are bursting. (And for God’s sake, when the music starts, just relax. You aren’t going to clap on the upbeat anyway, so just surrender to the pure gospel joy of an African American choir). This back-benching will be an adjustment for some of us, who are used to a certain deference paid to us for our tithing generosity. Actually, I’m glad I brought that up.

Bring your bank card. Bring your Bible. Read Matthew 19:20-22.  Act accordingly. That is, if you have resources. If you are a poor white Christian, take heart. You are about to feel a church embrace you with His warmth, maybe for the first time in your life.

Since we will be the new congregants let’s get ready to take those humble roles to help our new church function smoothly. We’ll take over the janitorial duties, setting up the chairs, emptying trash cans, cleaning the toilets. Work we can do for the Lord and our new congregation that allows us to spend some quiet time in church. We need to practice being quiet, most of us, because we need to learn to listen.

That will be the single hardest job for us, to listen.

White Christians in America are far more experienced at talking about race than listening. We are even better at not hearing at all. But please don’t despair, brothers and sisters, that’s just the Enemy’s doing. We can wake up at any moment if we hear the True Gospel. So let’s listen. For once, let’s just shut up and listen.

The Reverend Doctor King–a triple honorific of a name–confided that his biggest error in judgment was believing that white Christians would join the Civil Rights Movement as a body once they understood the Biblical necessity of racial justice. Just how wrong he was is horrifically evident in Charleston.

We white Christians can’t prove Dr King right about our moral bearing and Christian conscience–that ship has sailed. But we can recognize that our failure to embrace racial justice is another stripe on His back, another nail in His hand.

Let’s find a church where we can hear that Truth.

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