Church Diversity: Sunday the Most Segregated Day of the Week
Church Diversity On Purpose as God Always Intended
Subtitled Ã¢ÂÂSunday: The Most Segregated day of the Week,Ã¢ÂÂ Scott WilliamsÃ¢ÂÂ thought-provoking book aims at being the flashpoint for the We Are Church Diversity movement. We Are Church Diversity is consists of Ã¢ÂÂcongregants, pastors, church planters, educators, leaders and Christians around the worldÃ¢ÂÂ who affirm that diversity matters to God and are Ã¢ÂÂcommitted to seeing the body of Christ more racially unified.Ã¢ÂÂ Williams offers us the challenge of intentionality: church diversity on purpose. And he proposes lots of ways to do that: everything from having your church acknowledge Martin Luther King Jr Day, to celebrating Church Diversity Week (beginning the 2nd Friday of each year and ending on the 3rd Friday), to preaching diversity from our pulpits [fellow preachers, I'm talking to you] and Sunday school lecterns, to making sure that your church board and stage reflect the diversity you believe in (because what guests see on the stage and who they see in the leadership lets them know whether they are truly welcome or simply tolerated).
Of course, the book is something of a riff off PaulÃ¢ÂÂs Letter to American Christians, November 4, 1956 by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The most oft-quoted section of this letter stands as a undeniable indictment of the modern church Ã¢ÂÂ as much as it did more than 50 years ago:
Ã¢ÂÂThere is another thing that disturbs me to no end about the American church. You have a white church and you have a Negro church. You have allowed segregation to creep into the doors of the church. How can such a division exist in the true Body of Christ? You must face the tragoc fact that when you stand at 11:00 on Sunday morning to sing Ã¢ÂÂAll Hail the Power of JesusÃ¢ÂÂ NameÃ¢ÂÂ and Ã¢ÂÂDear Lord and Father of Mankind,Ã¢ÂÂ you stand in the most segregated hour of Christian America.Ã¢ÂÂ
Not much has changed in nearly 55 years! There are a variety of reasons why, ranging from base racism and hatred to apathy and Biblical ignorance. Some folks still try to justify segregation by twisting GodÃ¢ÂÂs Word. Dr. King himself mentioned that some Ã¢ÂÂargue that the Negro is inferior by nature because of NoahÃ¢ÂÂs curse upon the children of Ham.Ã¢ÂÂ Many cults have tried to say that the so-called Ã¢ÂÂcurse of HamÃ¢ÂÂ was the beginning of the Ã¢ÂÂNegroid race,Ã¢ÂÂ but this is nonsense. First of all, the curse was upon Canaan (HamÃ¢ÂÂs son) who fathered the Mediterranean Canaanite peoples who settled in modern-day Israel, Lebanoon and Syria; in other words, olive-skinned people groups. Oops.
Second and most importantly of all, God is for diversity. No, donÃ¢ÂÂt shake your head, because He is. Consider the following. The Bible reminds us that He has made Ã¢ÂÂof one blood all nations of menÃ¢ÂÂ [Acts 17:26], which means that He packed all of the genetic potential for every shade from black to white into Adam and Eve. Consider also, the birth of the Church. We know of course that Ã¢ÂÂThere is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ JesusÃ¢ÂÂ [Galatians 3:28], but have you really thought out what occured at Pentecost? In Acts chapter 2, the Holy Spirit is poured out upon the church. The Bible records that there were in Jerusalem Ã¢ÂÂJews, devout men, out of every nation under heavenÃ¢ÂÂ (verse 5). It started with every nation, and in fact each person present heard the Spirit-filled disciples speak in their own language (verse 6). And after PeterÃ¢ÂÂs sermon, we find that about 3,000 souls (verse 41) were added to the ChurchÃ¢ÂÂ¦ from every nation under heaven! Why should this surprise us? DoesnÃ¢ÂÂt our Great Commission tell us to make disciples of all nations [Matthew 28:19, Mark 16:15, Acts 1:8] and that we are to be witnesses to the uttermost ends of the earth? DoesnÃ¢ÂÂt the Word record that God pulled Philip out of a revival in Samaria so that he might bring the Gospel to an Ethiopian eunuch? God cares about diversity. ItÃ¢ÂÂs in the origins of mankind, the birth of the church, in our commissionÃ¢ÂÂ¦ and Bible fortells that God will have His perfect way. The Book of Revelation records that John saw Ã¢ÂÂa great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their handsÃ¢ÂÂ (Rev.7:9) as a fulfillment of the Great Comission that He charged us with!
So why shouldnÃ¢ÂÂt our churches reflect the kind of diversity God intended from the beginning of the Church and certainly intends as its end result? ThatÃ¢ÂÂs right; there is no reason why not.
Williams invites us throughout this book to assess ourselves and our churches, to believe in our potential for the kind of Biblical diversity God desires and to change the church for the better. On purpose. In other words, he provokes us to build GodÃ¢ÂÂs Kingdom rather than little clubs for those who match our shade of melanin.
Diversity takes intentionality.
July 5, 2011
It's 11am Sunday, what do you see?
I admit, I had a bias when I started this book. I am not a mega-church fan, and more than likely had I realized before I requested it that Scott Williams was a satellite pastor for a mega-church, I would have skipped the challenge of this book. That said, Scott had some really great things to say Ã¢ÂÂ things that I need to hear. There is a significant truth imbedded in the politically correct verbiage of Ã¢ÂÂDiversityÃ¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂ that is that the gospel is not just for people that look the same as I do Ã¢ÂÂ it is for everyone, everywhere.
Whether you attend a mega-church or a mini-church, or anything in between, know this Ã¢ÂÂ if your church is not reaching out to people where they are with the message of the gospel, you are attending a barely-there-church. God has called us to reach out, to cross lines of ethnicity, disability, and economics. My heart is generally for people with special needs, so as I read this book, I was overcome with a burden of seeing a church where people who are visibly and invisibly differently-abled are welcome, too. The love of Jesus is the hope of everyone; how can we ever claim to follow the savior if we arenÃ¢ÂÂt willing to confront Ã¢ÂÂelephant in the roomÃ¢ÂÂ that keeps us apart from each other? GodÃ¢ÂÂs word says that all of us will worship together in heaven; why not pursue some measure of heaven on earth?
That said, there was another conviction that the Holy Spirit encouraged me to revisit as I read this book: if God is powerfully present in the lives of those who are pastoring them, doesnÃ¢ÂÂt that mean that God is powerfully present at mega-churches? My concern has always been that volume goals exceed Jesus goals. Following a corporate Ã¢ÂÂbottom lineÃ¢ÂÂ mentality, these churches arenÃ¢ÂÂt about personal relationships with Jesus (or among members for that matter) but about feeding the coffers and lining the leadership pockets. I still feel as though personally, I need a deep connection to my fellow worshipers, and that a large church doesnÃ¢ÂÂt meet that need for me Ã¢ÂÂ HOWEVER, I also recognize that my distrust and blanket characterization of these churches as being hungry for people instead of hungry for the gospel is completely unfair and not in line with a Jesus-centric life, either. So, thanks Scott, for broadening my horizons in several areas. Church Diversity is a good book, and one that will definitely encourage a thinking person to acknowledge and assess their own deep-seated biases.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade CommissionÃ¢ÂÂs 16 CFR, Part 255
July 2, 2011
We all need to be a part of the solution
When this book came up as being available for review as part of the Page Turners program, I did not request it. Even though I'm Facebook friends with the author, Scott Williams. Even though I'm rather partial to anyone with a last name of Williams. But a book called Church Diversity? How can this apply to me right now?
I'm not in charge of anything, I'm not in a position to change anything, and, ummm, well... you know, I'd rather not think about that elephant in the room.
I grew up in a church where diversity meant that the Norwegians and the Swedes were willing to mix socially, you know? That isn't a slam of that church... that was a fairly accurate reflection of the community. So this isn't something I've ever really thought about.
Then an email came about doing a blog tour, and I went and watched the little promo videos. Like one with Scott talking about going out into all the world. Talking about how we need to talk about the elephant in the pew. Quoting the Reverend King, about 11:00 on Sunday being the most segregated hour in Christian America.
So I signed up.
I've been slowly working through this book, which is incredibly well-written. And I am realizing the church diversity is not just up to the leadership in "the church" or even "a church" but it is something that everyone needs to be thinking about. The best part is that although he is a black man, he isn't pointing fingers at white America as being "the" problem. And I realized that was part of my hang-up about reading the book, because I guess I was concerned that I was going to have to wrestle with the idea that everything was the fault of white Christians.
Scott certainly is convicting, but he doesn't throw around a lot of blame and guilt.
Not only does he give the vision of a church for all nations and all tongues, but he gives a ton of practical stuff too. And it isn't just what worked in his church in Oklahoma. He talks to people from a number of other churches around the nation about their successes in embracing diversity.
This is a book that church leaders everywhere ought to read. But it is also a book for every Christian to read. We all need to be a part of the solution here.
Disclaimer: I received this book for free from New Leaf Publishing Group. No other compensation was received. The fact that I received a complimentary product does not guarantee a favorable review.
May 8, 2011
It's sad to think that 40 years later Rev. Martin Luther King's words still ring true..."We must face the sad fact that at 11 o'clock on Sunday morning, when we stand to sing...we stand in the most segregated hour in America." Scott Williams has decided to step up to the plate and confront the elephant in the room! His new book " Church Diversity-Sunday the Most Segregated Day of the Week delves into this tough issue and offers a forum for conversation. You may think this subject does not effect you, but if you take the time to read the scriptures you would know that this subject was very close to our Abba Father's heart and because of that it should matter to us. I love Scott's quote when he says "Church diversity is not just about the color of skin, but rather the wages of sin". This is a must read for every church leader, every church goer, and anyone who truly wants to make a change in the world.
May 3, 2011