This is the second of a multi-part series on racial integration in the church. Much of this comes from our recent Equip Forum on race: my transcript from that is available below. Be sure to read the rest of the posts here: #1, #3, #4, #5, #6, #7.
I do not claim to be an expert on pioneering racial integration within church. I am very much still a learner, eager to hear from others what has worked, what has not worked, and what they believe continues to stand in the way. But through my experience and the experience of others, I offer some practical considerations to keep this much-needed conversation going:
1. Elevate the “third race.” I will tease this out in a later post, but this concept comes from Paul, who said that to the Jew he “became a Jew.” How could that be? He was a Jew. Paul never got away from his Jewish roots, but his ethnic Jewishness was so “light” that he felt he could take it on and off like a garment. His “third race” (“in Christ”) was weightier to him than his ethnicity.
In the same way, “whites” can never cease to be white, “blacks” to be black, and Hispanics to be Hispanic–and there is nothing wrong with a black or white or Hispanic person fitting in best with the culture of his heritage. But our identity in Christ should be weightier to us than our white American ethnic identity and thus make unity in the church possible. It’s not that our cultures and heritage are unimportant to us, just that those things don’t take on a greater “weight” than our “in Christness.” There is nothing sinful about having cultural styles and preferences, we simply possess a unity that goes deeper than those things.