July
01
Author
Simon Redmill
Let's Talk About Race and being a Revelation 5 Church

Last night we had the second of our “Let’s Talk About Race” sessions. We invited various black brothers and sisters to simply talk about their experiences.

I want to thank everyone who spoke. Your level of honesty, courage and bravery was, to be honest humbling, and I was deeply grateful for the way you trusted us with your emotions and feelings.

As Meg, graciously and skilfully helped put words and phrases to what many in the black community had been thinking and feeling and many in the white community were largely, if not completely unaware of, it was so helpful and enlightening.  Terms such as “Identity Centrality” (when your identity can become central when you’re in the minority) or “stereotype threat” describing how your brain can feel ‘hijacked’ when you are in the minority, it certainly helped me grasp a little more of the challenges that are faced by many in our church family.

This listening stage is so important.  It’s vital that people not just FEEL heard but that others are actively listening.  As it says in James 1 v 19 :

“everyone should be quick to listen….”,

and hearing those that are white responding to what had been shared, was again humbling.  The pain of brothers and sisters in Christ was felt, people expressed repentance for what had happened and resolved to work together for greater unity and to ruthlessly expel the sin (for that’s what it is) of racism.  It was such an encouraging start to our journey.

Of course, while listening is important we mustn’t stop there. It must lead to action. 

God is calling us to be a Revelation 5 church.  

In that chapter the curtain of heaven is pulled back and we get a glimpse of “people of every tribe and language and people and nation” all gathered around the throne of Jesus in worship.  Not only that, but each are involved, belong, and have been given responsibilities….. “you have made them a kingdom and priests to serve our God”.  This is the type of church we want to be!

As Jesus taught his disciples let’s pray, let your kingdom come (in Salisbury and Amesbury) as it is in heaven. 

Ben Lindsay in his excellent book (see details below) said:

“Accessibility is getting into the building,

Diversity is getting to the table,

Inclusion is having a voice at the table

Belonging is having your voice heard at the table”.

This is such a helpful quote.  We want black and white, young and old, working class and middle class, to not only be united to Christ but to see that outworked in practical ways across Grace Church.

This will take us ALL working together.  It won’t be done “to us”, it’s not something just for the elders or just for the black community or for the white community but something that TOGETHER as one church family we can move forward on.

We’re on a journey, and we’ve only just begun, but here’s FIVE  practical steps we can all take.

  1. Let’s PRAY Grace Church becomes a Revelation 5 church. In doing so, let’s not underestimate the power of prayer. Prayer works. Prayer changes things and most importantly prayer changes US! :)
  1. Get and Read Ben Lindsay’s excellent book: “We need to talk about race – understanding the black experience in white majority churches”. We need our minds renewed (Romans 12 v 2) and this book will really help.

 

  1. Build up friendships with those from a different nationality to you.
  1. Put Thursday 23rd July @ 7.30pm (our 3rd ‘Let’s Talk About Race Session’) in your dairy for a webinar with a panel looking at: “Reflections on Race and How to Build Multi-Cultural Churches”. Let’s keep listening, keep learning and keep moving forward.
  1. Specifically ask the Holy Spirit about how YOU can play your part in overcoming racism and in building a multi-cultural church in Salisbury and Amesbury. Are there practical steps YOU can take?

Finally, God is doing something beautiful with us as a church.  His grace and Holy Spirit have been all over these discussions. 

It won’t always be easy, we’ll make mistakes, we’ll say and do the wrong things at time, we’ll be tempted to retreat for an easier life.

BUT…… I want to say on behalf of the leadership team at Grace Church that we are committed, as I know so many of you are, to reflect something of the unity and diversity of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, of not being silent on such a key issue but instead allowing the gospel to shape us, to bring genuine change and to embrace all that God has got for us.

The feedback so far has been excellent, but let’s press on and by His grace, TOGETHER, build a Revelation 5 church to the Glory of God.

With much love and appreciation,

Simon