February 14, 2017 | 0 Comments
In these volatile times in our country, we are witnessing an increased erosion of civil dialogue in the public square. Across political, socio-economic, and ethnic lines, people are listening to each other less and less.
As you look around, you don’t need me to tell you that Bridgeway is a majority-white congregation. For those of you who are not black, if you’re asking yourself what it looks like to love your black brothers and sisters well, the first answer is always to listen. Love listens well. February is Black History Month. Black History Month provides an opportunity to listen, and we want to capitalize on that. This month, as pastors and elders, we would like to invite all of you to join us in listening to various men and women articulate their experiences of growing up black in America and being black in America.
For those of you who are Black, we encourage you to read and listen as well, and draw encouragement from what you read and hear. Our hope is that you will be able to gain increased clarity on your own thoughts, and grow in awareness of what you share in common with what you read and hear.
As we talked about last week in Acts 16, God is gathering a people from all tribes, tongues, peoples and nations into His kingdom. One church, one family, one Spirit under the banner of Jesus Christ.
As pastors and elders, here are two simple ways we’re inviting all of you to listen with us this month:
First, we invite you to look over the bulletin insert we have provided for you today which lists a collection of books on the black experience in America. Collectively, as pastors and elders, almost all of us have read some or all of these books. Individually, we will each be reading at least one of these books alongside you this month. We have made copies of six of them available in the bookstore.
For some of you, this information will be very familiar, based on your experiences or relationships. For others of you, this will feel very new. For all of us, we hope that we are able to grow together in understanding one another’s stories and experiences, especially as we seek to grow as a multiethnic community.
One additional comment on these recommendations. One of the most significant ways in which we are called to think “Christianly” is to grow in the skill of knowing what to receive, reject, or redeem in the broader culture. Not every author on this list is a Christian, and not every Christian author on this list may read the Bible the same way that the elders do. But every author on this list has something significant and meaningful to say. It’s our job to read these books with humility and discernment. Humility because our chief goal is to listen and learn, and discernment because Scripture is our ultimate authority in interpreting all of reality.
Second, we will conclude Black History Month by gathering here in the sanctuary on Sunday evening, February 26th, at 6:00 pm. Childcare will be provided. We will show a 45 minute video of a panel discussion led by Matt Chandler, the president of Acts 29 (the church planting network of which we are a part) in which he interviews a group of Acts 29 pastors at the pastors’ retreat on their experiences of growing up black in America. This retreat happened to come in the immediate aftermath of the shootings in Louisiana, Minnesota and Dallas. The pastors and elders have watched this video together and we were deeply moved by it. These are fellow pastors we know, love, and trust, and we think you too will find what they share to be moving, insightful, and thought-provoking. This will be followed by a panel discussion, facilitated by the elders, and featuring local black civic and non-profit leaders. You will have the opportunity to share your questions and comments for the panel. We hope to see you there!