Six years ago, I enrolled in a class at a local university. I was looking for the answers to my questions about race and church. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the answers I was looking for. The truth is, I was looking in the wrong place. I honestly belive we’ve made a lot of progress right here, over the course of the past 31 (ish) days. Thank you for hanging out here and adding your voice to the conversation.
On Wednesday, I’ll be adding a linky to my post. I know some of you have already written your own posts about race, and others of you might like to write something to share. I hope you’ll stop by to link up your posts here. It can be an archive of sorts.
When I took that course six years ago, I didn’t get my questions answered, but I did find some resources that pointed me in the right direction. I thought you might be interested in some of the books I read that year, and that helped to shape some of my thoughts about race, grace, church, and faith:
People of the Dream: Multiracial Congregations in the United States – Michael O. Emerson has written a lot of books. Most of them are about multiracial congregations. He’s a college professor, and he likes research. (The 80% I mentioned in an earlier post is Emerson’s suggestion.) This book is the result of case studies of various multiracial religious congregations in America.
Gracism: The Art of Inclusion – It’s amazing how the letter “G” changes everything, huh? David A. Anderson begins this book with his first day as an intern at Willow Creek Community Church. That day, he was stopped by a police officer for what many of us would term “Driving While Black.” Anderson was stopped twice. On the same day. Despite his bad day, Anderson writes about grace, and encourages us all to press past what we see to realize what God has in store for the Body of Christ.
Building a Healthy Multi-ethnic Church: Mandate, Commitments and Practices of a Diverse Congregation (Jossey-Bass Leadership Network Series) – H and I have this book on our bookshelf, but we haven’t read it, yet. However, no matter where I bring up the topic of multi-ethnic churches, someone inevitably mentions Mark DeYmaz and The Mosiac Church of Central Arkansas. The church itself is just about six hours south of my front door. One day, I plan to spend a Sunday morning there. Here’s a endorsement from the book jacket: “Mark DeYmaz has provided the body of Christ with the answer to one of its most embarrassing dilemmas: Sunday segregation. Building a Healthy Multi-Ethnic Church is a very biblical plan for church leaders committed to building a church that looks like the world in which they minister.” (Miles McPherson, senior pastor, The Rock Church, San Diego, CA)
The Yada Yada Prayer Group (The Yada Yada Prayer Group, Book 1) – Okay, so this isn’t just one book. This is a series of novels, and one of the best words to describe the series is “delightful.” I hardly ever use that word. One thing I’ve noticed about the vast majority of books in this world is that the main character (and all of his or her acquaintances) is assumed to be white. When I started reading The Yada Yada Prayer Group, I was delighted (there it is again) to find a surprisingly diverse cast of characters. And not a caricature among them! Neta Jackson has been called to write these books for such a time as this. She’s a friend of mine, and I wish you could meet her. The books are fun to read and they deal with tough issues. But be warned, once you get started, it’s difficult to stop.
Letters Across the Divide: Two Friends Explore Racism, Friendship, and Faith – David Anderson, author of Gracism, and his friend Brent Zuercher, a businessman, write letters to one another in which they speak honestly about race. It’s a lot like what we’ve been doing right here at JumpingTandem. They stay at the table, ask and answer tough questions, and hope the best in all things. (We have this book somewhere, but I couldn’t find it to add it to the photo for today’s post.)
Our conversations here over the past few weeks have been beautiful. They’re the beginning of something big God is doing. If you’re interested in finding out more about where He might be trying to take us, consider reading one of these books.
Can you recommend any other books? (Don’t forget the linky this Wednesday!)
(Yep. I’m still reading. Find out more, here.)