Brenda Salter McNeil is one of my heroes when it comes to matters of racial reconciliation. In fact, even beyond the reconciliation issue, I think she’s one of the best preachers in America. But I digress. A friend of mine just sent me an interview with Brenda that was posted on the Catalyst website. Some of you might’ve already read the piece, but I thought I’d link to it here in case you haven’t.
One of the questions Brenda discusses is the biggie that many of us have about this whole “racial reconciliation” issue: Why? Why should we disrupt everything we’re doing to pursue this incredibly difficult thing that seems to bring us lots of strife, and often heartache? In the interview, Brenda remarks:
Many people also lose interest in reconciliation because they haven’t identified their need for other people. They say, “We want to do racial reconciliation! We want our church to be more diverse!” Why? What’s the need for that diversity? Why would your church be better if you had more Filipino people, more Korean people, more African-American people, more Hispanic people? Often people don’t have an answer to that question. So we do it because we think it would be nice, but not because it’s necessary. When their culture begins to change our institution, then we want them gone. Because we wanted to have them with us in a very nice way, but we really didn’t want them to reorganize our church or our institution.
I need your help. I’m going to be speaking at a variety of places in the coming weeks and months, and I’d like to be able to share some real-life wisdom on this question. I’m curious, could you give me your response to that big question–Why should we pursue racial reconciliation? Why would we be better off with a more diverse congregation or ministry staff, especially if things are humming along pretty well the way they are now? I’m not necessarily looking for the definitive answer. I’d just like to hear your personal views on the subject. What keeps you in the race? Why does it matter to you or to your church?