What we have seen over the past few weeks with the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd has been gut-wrenching, tragic, and traumatic on many levels. We have seen the demonic spirit of racism manifest itself again. The events that have recently happened are nothing new. It’s been happening for years. Decades. Centuries. If we take a brief look at history, we have seen the era of slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation, to name a few, all of which have left the residue of oppression that we see playing out today.
The sin of racism has been happening for some time and is still at work in our day. Racism hasn’t gone anywhere; it has become more sophisticated and systemic. For generations, countless Black lives have experienced injustice, oppression, and pain all at the hands of racism. Families have lost sons, daughters, fathers, and mothers due to racism, from lynching to police brutality. This isn’t just history; it’s happening now.
As followers of Jesus, we can’t be silent on this issue. Racism is not a political issue; it’s a biblical one. Racism is failing to love our neighbors as ourselves. It is failing to recognize that every person has been created in the likeness and image of God, no matter how light or dark their skin may be. The Bible says in Revelation 7:9, “After this I looked, and there was a vast multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language, which no one could number, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”
What John sees while under exile in Patmos is a picture of eternity and what is to come. It is a picture of the Kingdom of God in its radiance, splendor, and beauty. It is a multiethnic picture of people gathered under one name, Jesus. Once again, we cannot be silent on this issue at the expense of seeing injustice continue. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., in his Letter from Birmingham Jail, said, “Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.” Dr. King’s letter was an indictment and a call to action to white brothers and sisters in Christ, who were often critical of his voice while doing little to nothing to advocate for the voice of those oppressed. Let that not be said of us in this crucial moment.
We believe that God has positioned us as the ARC Family for such a time as this. As a worldwide organization, we have seen churches planted in cities like Minneapolis, London, New York City, Cape Town, Vancouver, San Francisco, and Birmingham, with its deep history of racial tensions, which in many ways gave birth to the civil rights movement. As a family of churches filled with people from different backgrounds and ethnicities, we have the opportunity to boldly come against the sin of racism and present to the world God’s beautiful picture of His Kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. For this to happen, we have to be willing to be honest about racism and examine our hearts to see our blind spots that would cause us to be dismissive or insensitive in this area. This involves us being willing to have difficult conversations that we may have never engaged in, confessing our shortcomings, and repenting of our sin. Reconciliation can’t take place without there first being repentance and remorse over the sin of racism and the injustices it has caused. If we steward this moment in time well, we can be a voice of healing and reconciliation.
At ARC, we believe in planting life-giving churches that reach diverse people throughout communities around the world. We, as an organization, have been and are continually taking practical steps to be a part of bridging the racial and ethnic divides. Here are some of the actions that we have taken over the past few years, along with future steps we seek to employ.
- Diversifying our ARC leadership team and staff.
- Ensuring the diversity of our conference speakers and launch coaches.
- Hosting conversations that address racism with a Biblical approach.
- Modifying our launch process to be contextualized for different cities.
- Creating a series of meetups for churches to foster unity and reconciliation in their city.
- Calling the ARC Family to pray and fast against racism.
These are just a few of the steps that we are taking so that our family is equipped to plant and lead diverse, life-giving churches that combat racism. We will share a more comprehensive approach to this plan soon. To better equip pastors and leaders, we’ve compiled a list of resources that we encourage you to invest in, along with your staff and churches.
As the Church, let us be advocates for justice (Isaiah 1:17). Let us be advocates for love. Let us be advocates for unity. As the Apostle Paul mentions, let us as pastors and leaders in our communities, be ministers of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19), showing how Jesus has torn down the dividing walls of hostility, even the wall of racism.