Big Idea: Conflict in churches is inevitable but its divisive consequences are not. Rather, if conflict is handled in a godly way, churches can actually grow stronger through it. Racial conflict provides the church of Christ the opportunity to proclaim the radical transforming power of the Gospel as we strive to realize God’s vision for diverse and unified worship.
I. Racial issues divided the church.
A. Labels that identify and divide (Acts 6:1): Hellenists and Hebrews
B. Secondary issue: We are not getting our fair share.
1. Racially diverse leadership (“...pick out from among you” seven Greek names.)
2. Division of labor – roles in leadership
3. The importance of prayer and ministry of the Word
II. God’s vision for diverse and unified worship
A. In Christ our identity is transformed. (II Corinthians 5:17)
B. Christ’s authority supersedes all other loyalties and distinctions. (Galatians 3:27-28)
C. A call to forget ourselves (I Corinthians 6:6-7)
D. God’s endgame is diverse and unified worship. (Revelation 5)
III. Where are we and how can we move forward?
A conversation with Walter Bush.
1) Have you ever directly experienced or witnessed racial discrimination? What was that like? How did you handle the situation?
2) How prevalent is racism in our culture today? How much progress have we made as a country in the last 30 years? Is the problem overstated? Or are the recent events around racial issues only revealing the fact that this is still a significant problem?
3) Some say that the American church is the most racially segregated institution in America. Do you think that is true? Why or why not?
4) How subtle is racism? Is it possible to have patterns of behavior that persist despite the fact that people are largely ignorant of the patterns? Do you have to be self-aware of biased beliefs to struggle with racism? What is the difference between pattern recognition and profiling? Is noticing a pattern the same thing as racism?
5) What is the most racially diverse worship you have ever experienced? Talk about that.
6) What does it mean that we are all one in Christ, or that there are no more racial barriers in Christ? Does that automatically eliminate cultural and racial barriers? If not, how do we overcome them?
7) Are you on board with the vision to move to our future heavenly reality now? What would have to change to experience God’s vision of diverse and unified worship?
8) How prevalent is it for us to judge based on outward appearance? What can you do to look deeper into things?