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.