Welcome to the Monday Mailing #18 –
Borrowing from a Colleague Edition
The Reverend Jan Edmiston
Ignoring What’s Going On in the World Will Kill Your Ministry
I know. I know. I know.
You find political sermons divisive. Your church is “purple.” You pay your pastor to preach The Bible not the newspaper. You fear another church split. “What if people leave?”
There are church leaders out there today grappling with whether or not to put a Black Lives Matter banner on the front lawn of church property. There are church leaders doing book studies using everything from denominational resources that instill Scripture in the lessons to secular books by DiAngelo, Kendi, Coates, and Oluo – and not everyone’s happy about it. There are pastors participating in peaceful marches and other pastors decrying those marches.
(Note: The Billy Graham Rapid Response Team chaplains were present at least one march in Charlotte, NC and I wasn’t sure if they were present to march or pray or help in case violence broke out. Either way, it was good to see them.)
I once served a church that had endured an especially ugly church split prior to my arrival and at one of the first elders’ meetings, I remember that the split and its ugliness came into the discussion. One Church Pillar immediately interjected this statement:
Let’s pretend like that never happened.
So, actually it had happened. Every kind of misconduct except sexual. Embezzlement. Spiritual abuse. Fraud. Behavior Unbecoming of a Follower of Jesus.
It had happened over a long period of time and the consequences were not going away by ignoring it or proclaiming “well, that’s over” as if it was actually over. The split took almost two decades to happen. It took almost two decades to heal from the split.
And now we hear Good Church People say “Let’s pretend like ___ never happened.”
Let’s pretend that slavery was never sanctioned by the Church.
Let’s pretend that Christians never perpetuated or nourished the lies of White Supremacy.
Let’s pretend that every child has an equal opportunity to succeed in this country.
Let’s pretend that “We don’t see color.”
It’s best if we just don’t talk about that around here. Political conversations are divisive. Church should be a Happy Place – Praise Jesus.
Friendly reminder: Jesus was crucified for trying to overthrow the Roman government. Jesus turned over the tables in the temple after seeing the heresies and injustices to the poor. Jesus called the Righteous Leaders “broods of vipers.” And he didn’t do these things because he was cranky.
Jesus models that when we see injustice, we act to make it right.
Hanging BLM banners on church property will not make it right. Prayerful marching in the streets will not make it right. Book groups will not make it right. But the hope is that someone will be moved, someone will wake up, someone will realize that it’s our responsibility as followers to Jesus to do more than wish the ugliness will go away.
After we (White People) educate ourselves about the realities of what has happened in the history of our nation, the next step is to do something impactful. Banners and book studies are not enough.
The next step is to work for justice. The next step is to make earth as it is in heaven. (Jesus’ words; not mine.)
The worst thing we can do it pretend our history never happened. It will literally kill our ministry because it will kill our credibility and our honesty. We must face the truth and address the truth in the name of love.
(I would personally say that we must address the truth in the name of Jesus, but even if you don’t believe in Jesus, or you don’t believe in any kind of Divine God, please consider addressing injustice with love.)
Fun fact: God is love.✟
Peace, and love to you all —
✟ The Reverend Dr. Jan Edmiston is the General Presbyter of Charlotte Presbytery (NC) and blogs at https://achurchforstarvingartists.blog