Happy Mentoring Monday everyone! I primarily write about mentoring from the perspective of intentional discipleship. The focus of mentoring as intentional discipleship is holistic, and this practice is a necessary for the church.
Christianity Today www.smallgroups.com just released a training tool about holistic discipleship in small groups. My work is featured in an article titled, “Discipleship According to Jesus: 3 Aspects of Holistic Discipleship.” You can purchase the training tool here.
When I posted “I Go to Church with White People” on my blog, I was nervous. It was the first piece I’d written about racial issues. As an African American woman raised in the black church in South Carolina, my choice to worship at a predominantly white church was not normal. God, however, opened my eyes to the need for intentionally choosing a diverse community.
Embracing a community of faith that is diverse, trusting, and mutually submissive can humbly reveal much about God, and even more about ourselves. Diverse community can give us a clear lens to know and love God, plus help us understand our blind spots. This renewed vision compels us to love others well.
Multicultural small groups—those that are racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse—can be a catalyst to help us love our neighbors because they bring us close to “the other”—people who are different from us in some way. Simple proximity to “others” is a good first step.
We truly become a united people, though, through sacred moments together as a result of prayer, study, listening, and learning. Through the fellowship and community of diverse believers, our hearts are changed and we can re-enter a diverse and changing world again and again as reconciled, transformed, and renewed people who glorify God.
When a watching world sees true heart change, it’s a compelling witness. This change begins by drawing close to God and embracing a diverse community. The Holy Spirit changes people, and he uses changed people to miraculously change other individuals, organizations (including the church), and the world.
On Tuesday, a grand jury decided not to indict the police officer who choked an unarmed African American male, Eric Garner, to death in July. Garner was being arrested for selling cigarettes and not paying taxes. After being wrestled to the ground by several police using an unauthorized technique, Mr. Garner’s final words were, “I can’t breathe.” The cops stood around and waited as he died. This troubling scene was recorded on video.
In order to process, dialogue, and document history, advocacy, and responses to these and other important issues, many people have turned to the social media platform provided by Twitter. Twitter users employ hashtags (#) so that other users can see all the tweets related to a certain topic. In response to these incidents and more, the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter has become popular on Twitter, and it promises to be a critical tool for continuous dialogue in the future.
After the grand jury decision in Ferguson, I joined a Twitter Teach-In hosted by #Evangelicals4Justice (@Evangelicals4J). As a member of this diverse group of evangelicals, I responded to the question, “Why is it necessary to declare #BlackLivesMatter?” The theological answers were clear: Inside and outside of the womb, God cares about the senseless loss of a life (Gen 9:6); Because God demands an account for the loss of life, we must demand an answer as well (Gen 9:6); and because Black people are humans who are created in the image of God (Gen. 1:37).
During this Twitter exchange, I received a response from a white male evangelical asking, “Does that mean that other lives don’t matter? I’m tired of being discriminated against 4 being a white man.”