How to Lead Your Church or Faith Community when They are Resistant to Racial Justice

A word of encouragement and some tips for leading a community in antiracism.

In all my writing and speaking on race, even when communicating difficult truths, I hope my love for the Church shines through.

My aspiration is that anyone from any racial or ethnic background could walk into any church and feel like they are among family.

Of course, that won’t happen in full until Jesus returns, and we are very, very far from that reality in too many churches. Still, this hope animates much of my concern for racial justice in faith communities.

Whether you are a Christian, follow another faith, or no specific faith tradition at all, whenever we speak of race, I hope we do it with a sensitivity that we’re dealing with real people.

We have to demonstrate the same dignity toward others that we want them to demonstrate toward us.

So I recorded this brief video for pastors and church leaders and others involved in influencing communities that may be resistant to racial justice.

1 Peter 5:2 says, “shepherd the flock that is among you.”

In terms of racial justice, I take that to mean, “Meet your people where they are.”

Know their objections. Know their rebuttals. Understand that what makes your community resistant to racial justice may not be the same as other communities. Then do your best to address those concerns.

It helps to start with personal stories rather than handing a person a book, article, or an assemblage of facts and data. Talk to people about why and how racial justice became a burden for you.

Use the sacred text. Never assume that people understand exactly what God says about race, ethnicity, diversity and unity.

Your teaching about race, racism, and white supremacy must transcend a single sermon or a sermon series. Such instruction should be woven into the entire journey of discipleship in your community.

Above all, tell the truth and be faithful. People will have to decide for themselves whether justice, especially in its racial dimensions, is something they will support, remain silent about, or outright oppose.

As shepherds of the flock, we can lead through our words and deeds, but we are not guaranteed success. What we are called to be is faithful. Speak the truth in love and know that you are stewarding your responsibility well.

For more read my latest book, How to Fight Racism.