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Category Archives: racism

10 Top Reasons Racism Continues in the Church Today

I’m excited to participate in Movement Day 2015 in New York City this coming Thursday to participate on a panel around a frank discussion on bridging barriers of race, culture, and class. In preparation, I thought I would get on paper my top 10 reasons of why racism continues in the church today. Here they are: Failure to capture Scripture’s vision of the church as a multi-racial community that transcends racial, cultural, economic and gender barriers. The gospel is the power of God that bridges the infinite gap between humanity and God as well as the “dividing wall” between races, cultures, ethnicities, social classes, and genders. Measuring success primarily by numbers. We want to grow our churches. We want it to happen quickly. The problem is that bridging racial barriers is slow and will rarely produce “big” numbers. Superficial discipleship. We focus on getting people “over the line” into salvation and connected. We don’t. Read more.

Racism, Emotional Health, and the Gospel

Our first nine years at New Life (1987-1996) were a painful, difficult, and often unsuccessful attempt, to bridge racial, cultural, economic, and gender barriers. We did not “break through” our massive differences until God’s answer to our cry through what we call today Emotionally Healthy Spirituality (EHS). EHS transformed our approach and language around reconciliation, giving us a more fully orbed theology, a new language, new tools, and a beneath the surface spirituality that deeply transformed us. EHS enabled us to build an authentic community with African Americans, West Indians, Koreans, Chinese, Filipinos, Indonesians, Whites, Peruvians, Colombians, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Poles, Jews, Palestinians, and Russians (to name a few). The result has been the miracle that New Life is today — a vibrant community of 1500+ people from over 73 nations that serves as a sign and wonder to the power of the gospel. The principles for how this has happened are outlined in. Read more.

The Gospel and Racial Reconciliation

In this months Emotionally Healthy Leadership Podcast Pete Scazzero and Rich Villodas discuss the church, the gospel and racial reconciliation. We hope you will take a few minutes to listen in on this very honest conversation around a critical cultural issue.  

The Illusion of “Fast” Church

We want deep churches where people are transformed. We also want wide churches that grow rapidly in numbers. The problem is that these two values are often incompatible. Think about it. Let’s say you are committed to bridging racial barriers in the church. That requires you slow down enough to listen to people’s stories, to ponder the complexity of structural and personal racism, to wrestle with issues of power and privilege, to read history and perspectives different than your own. Let’s take sexuality, singleness, and marriage. You can offer a class for 300 people at a time, touching broad theological issues at the 10,000-foot level. The problem, however, is that the issues are highly complex and nuanced. Each person and marriage has personal questions and struggles that require one-on-one conversations. The very preparation for this kind of formation slows you down. Think about the breadth of what is involved in a person’s formation in. Read more.

Final Gifts Received (Pilgrimage Reflections #9)

It is always a rich privilege to step outside one’s context and world. This trip was no exception.  The following are a few additional learnings I noted on the way home yesterday: 1. God is moving all over the world. God reminded me of this text often during this trip – “the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world – just as it has been doing among you” (Colossians 1:6). 2. The impact of China. With 1.3 billion people and a church about 100 million strong, the economic, spiritual, cultural, and political influence of China is staggering. Few of us in the USA or the West, I think, appreciate this reality. 3. South Africa. One church we visited had about 400 white South Africans. Perth, Australia has over 100,000 more. Why? Violence and racial tensions. Having spent a most of my adult life wrestling with racial tensions here in the USA,. Read more.

The Central Park Five

A co-laborer at New Life recently encouraged me to watch The Central Park Five. It is the story of five teenagers – four blacks and one Hispanic, ages 14 to 16, who were arrested and charged with raping and beating, nearly to death, a 28 year old, white woman after dark in Central Park. The boys were portrayed as  “beasts,” and “wild animals” with no remorse for their actions. Donald Trump placed full-page ads calling for the return of the death penalty. They spent the next 7-13 years of their lives in prison. Their lives and families were ruined. The problem: They were innocent. The murderer who committed the crime finally admitted it in 2002. This documentary is important to watch for many reasons. Here are my top three: 1. Social class and racial divisions remain a deep reality. The Central Park Five gives us an amazing portrayal of the injustice that befalls so. Read more.