On Earth as It Is in Heaven

downtownchurch

We’re all a little bit racist. And sexist. And ageist. And dozens of other-things-ist. An ist is simply a bias or leaning, either away from or toward something. We lean toward what we know, and away from what we don’t. And we all know our own race better than anyone else’s, so we’re all a little bit racist. Still, that isn’t the way it has to be.

The church I attend is trying to become multiracial. To that end, our leaders visited another church that is much farther down this road, and asked, “What’s the key?”

“Intentionality,” they answered. Two former congregations, one black and one white, merged. The pastors became co-pastors, the black choir and white worship band became one worship team. Sound inspiring? It was. Eventually. But initially—for the first two or three years—it was jarring, frustrating, and for many simply too much to bear.

More than half the members of both former congregations left, uncomfortable over the loss of their style, their traditions–their leanings. What remained was a reduced body of dogged believers who were willing to sacrifice what was for what could be.

But the real change came not from policies or preaching or multicolored pews. It came from small groups, intentionally made up of black and white members. They shared and prayed. It was awkward at first, so they shared and prayed about that.

Eventually they began to laugh and cry over each other’s triumphs and tragedies. They became part of each other’s lives, attending weddings, funerals, birthday parties. The need for intentionality didn’t go away—it never does. But they’re now an us, and when they have issues, they’re “us issues.” In other words, they’re family.

Fear, not hate, is the opposite of love (1 John 4:18). But fear, left untreated, can fester into hate. The cure is love. The more you know someone, the more invested in them you become, and the more invested you become, the more you love them.

My wife and I want to invest more deeply in the lives of those who are different from us. So, among other things, we’ve entered long-term mentoring programs that walk with kids and their families through key years of their lives. We want to lean in new directions.

To be part of a bigger family.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in Culture, For Pastors and Teachers, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to On Earth as It Is in Heaven

  1. Mel Wild says:

    Great testimony, Mitch. Real change does come in making the connections living life together.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Bruce Cooper says:

    Excellent post Mitch! Our church is also composed of mixed races and I can’t help but think that is the way that it is supposed to be. Blessings!

    Liked by 4 people

  3. 🙌🙌🙌🙌🙌…well, yeah, that’s the way it is supposed to be! 🙌🙌🙌👏👏👏

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Great example for many churches out there. Glad to hear you’re involved.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Bob Martin says:

    Wonderful goal. Be sure you ask God how to do it…..and then listen to Him.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Thank you for this uplifting post at the end of a long day.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Reblogged this on By the Mighty Mumford and commented:
    JUST AS THE LORD INTENDED—MAY THEY BECOME ONE AS WE (THE FATHER AND SON) ARE ONE!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Precious One says:

    Absolutely wonderful decision, Mitch. Intentionality has beautiful rewards. This younger generation will be enriched and blessed by the devotion of both you and Lady Teemley 👏🏻🙏🏽

    Liked by 1 person

  9. nancyehead says:

    God’s work in the lives of others through you and your wife. Wonderful! God bless!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Keep us posted about your congregation.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. carhicks says:

    Awesome post Mitch, we need to hear these stories to know that we can’t give up, but keep trying. Intentionality, great word and action.

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Next step.

    Different religions and atheists. All coming together as one. Keep up the good work.

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Matthew says:

    Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing this. I especially appreciate your sharing the reality of the difficulty – losing half of the membership. When a new culture is being formed, with new habits, new expectations, there will be many who reject it. But the faithful few who stay are committed. And from that commitment, there will be growth in many ways. Blessings to this congregation!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. andyd63 says:

    Thanks for this. We often think that “If God is in this it’ll be easy”. You have shown that it’s that dogged persistent love that goes past the discomfort and awkward and seeks what is on the other side. Just like God’s intentional, persistent love for us.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Ann Coleman says:

    Ii think so many people resist discussions about race because they quickly deteriorate into accusations, and no one wants to feel guilty just because their skin happens to be a certain color. And yet, as you say, we are all racist (or some ist) to some degree. Merging churches with different worship and leadership styles can be hard, but it’s worth the effort if it tears down the walls that separate us. And I agree, the way forward is to forge individual relationships with people who are of a different race (or whatever), and it will spread from there. I’m so glad that you and your wife are going to mentor kids who are different…that will help all of you to grow!

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Our church is one with some diversity of nationalities (a lot of seminary students from different parts of the world) but not as much when it comes to age. We over-60 people are definitely in the minority! Every week the pastor requests that we pray for more “unity and diversity.”
    (I guess that’s unity so we don’t dissolve into chaos, and diversity so we don’t die of boredom. 😉 )

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Pingback: On Earth as It Is in Heaven – Miaovoxdaily

  18. Eliza says:

    There is nothing wrong with isting as long as you can accept and include others. I’m glad you’ve got a larger family now…
    Love, light, and glitter

    Liked by 1 person

  19. gregoryjoel says:

    I can’t even begin to tell you how much I appreciate your post. I’ve found a broader, and often deeper, spirituality in the “black” church. The problem seems to be that it’s still the “black church”. I’ve found that relationships with those different from myself tend to blur the lines between black and white. The church still has a long way to go, but your post is a reminder haw choosing to be in relationship changes everything. Thanks Mitch!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. It’s such a good journey. Worth the awkwardness and the drama.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. SLIMJIM says:

    Wow encouraging

    Liked by 1 person

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