Renewing Our Minds

M. Troy Smith – December 18, 2014 Leave a comment

All People blog

For many of us, it is common place to respond and react to situations without considering how our responses and reactions stand in light of God’s Word.

This is simply because, for so long, we have carried these habits and traits with us and see nothing wrong with them; even if it causes friction within our current context. In order to shed these undesirable and unbecoming characteristics, as we’ve been commanded (Ephesians 4:22-24), there must be a renewing of the mind (Romans 12:3; Ephesians 4:23).

This is a frequently talked about concept, often quoted by way of Scripture, but seldom carried out in most believers’ lives. This is why so many within Christianity today are frustrated, fruitless and experiencing little victory in their lives. The principle of renewing your mind is first to be understood as a continual command. This cannot be something that is done in spurts, or determined to do sporadically. It has to be an ongoing discipline that is carried out by prayer, meditation and careful study of the Scriptures (Psalm 119:11; Colossians 1:28, 3:10, 16; Philippians 4:8).  Continue Reading…

Unusual But Achievable

Justin Pickard – December 16, 2014 Leave a comment

All People blog

A couple years ago, I spoke to a leader of a large secular community development organization in the Northeast. He made the distinction between a “people-focused strategy” and a “real estate focused strategy.”

In the former, he was talking about organizations that provide mentoring, tutoring, jobs training, GED classes, food, healthcare, etc. In the latter, he was mentioning organizations that construct or renovate affordable housing, do economic development projects, etc. He told me that most non-profits working in under-resourced communities focus on one strategy or the other, but very few combine them. He argued that powerful opportunities are missed when these are not combined. I immediately thought of Christian Community Development Association (CCDA) founders, such as John Perkins, Wayne Gordon and Bob Lupton, with each pursuing that exact combined strategy.  Continue Reading…

A Time to Speak

Alvin Sanders – December 12, 2014 Leave a comment

All People blog

As a response to all that’s happening throughout the country, with protests from coast to coast, Kainos Movement will be hosting a conversation on race December 16 at the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tenn.

A Time to Speak,” sponsored by LifeWay and Fellowship Memphis, will highlight Christian leaders speaking about race, the Church and what’s next for the evangelical community.

Bryan Loritts, lead pastor of Fellowship Memphis, Ed Stetzer, President of LifeWay Research, John Piper, Chancellor of Bethlehem College and Seminary, Derwin Gray, lead pastor of Transformation Church, and many others will be involved the conversation.

According to a press release from Kainos, “A Time to Speak,” is a “gathering of Christ-followers committed to both the spiritual and sociological implications of the gospel.”

“‘We want to boldly declare there is hope,'”  said Loritts, the event organizer.

A live-stream of the event will begin at 4:00 p.m. CST at live.kainos.is and will re-air at 8:00 p.m. CST.

Can We All Get Along?

Alvin Sanders – December 11, 2014 Leave a comment

All People blog

I’ll never forget what happened when I was pastoring years ago. At Bible study, during the week that the Bush/Gore election results were final, I went around the circle, as usual, to ask for prayer and praise requests.

One of my white members stated, as a praise, that God put His man in the White House. About five minutes later, an African American woman arrived. As she sat down, I asked her for her praises/prayer requests. With passion, she said, “we need to pray for God’s protection because the devil is in the White House!”

Talk about a potentially volatile situation. In multiethnic ministry, minefields like that are all around. A big part of leading multiethnic ministry is our ability to relate to others. With the reality of racialization, having high relational skills is a must. It is the key to a healthy multiethnic ministry.  Continue Reading…

Weep Like Jesus Wept For the City

Alvin Sanders – December 9, 2014 Leave a comment

All People blog

Where we put our faith and hope is one of the ways we can grieve God. Too often we put our faith and hope in politicians, money, family members, education and religion. My hope is in Christ and His followers.

For me, the more important debate is what role could the Church play as part of the solution to what is happening in Ferguson, New York, etc.? The first role is to weep for the city.

While pundits are debating what to do and politicians drag their feet, people suffer. That is what I care about and weep over. I think this is what Jesus weeps over too:

41 And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, 42 saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side 44 and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” – Luke 19:41-44 (ESV)

Jesus wept over Jerusalem because he knew the struggles it was going through. He knew the key to peace in the city was the ability of the spiritual leaders to accept Him and His ways. He cried because those leaders chose to put their hope in something other than Him. This rejection meant there would be no peace for those who lived there. Tragic.

How to be United by Faith

Alvin Sanders – December 3, 2014 Leave a comment

All People blog

Years before the events in Ferguson, a response was written to it. There was a call for the development of multiethnic congregations, in every possible setting, as a Christian response to the effects of racialization. The book was titled, United By Faith. The premise of the book was this – multiethnic congregations offer a key to opening the still-locked door between ethnic groups in the United States. They presented their case from biblical, historical and theological perspectives. The authors’ intent was to provide a way forward, making the church the basis for racial reconciliation.

EFCA All People Round Table

Did you know that 22 percent of EFCA churches identify themselves as either ethnic or multi-ethnic? This statistic makes us one of the most diverse denominations in the country. To help our churches be united by faith, from November 11-13, 2014, a historic first happened within the EFCA. Forty church leaders gathered for peer learning on how to effectively develop a multiethnic congregation. We gathered at Seneca Creek Community Church in Gaithersburg, Md. Seneca Creek is one of the EFCA’s most diverse congregations, as over 20 different people groups are represented within their membership. We covered a wide range of topics, from effective multicultural staffing to dealing with political divides within congregations.  Continue Reading…

All People blog

I am reading my way through the Bible in my annual pursuit of the Word. I’m in the prophets, who are proclaiming judgment in Israel for their unfaithfulness to God, His covenant, their chasing other gods, and abusing the poor and vulnerable in the land. I can’t help reading that and looking out at America to see those same sins in our country.

The Fall Out

This morning, I read that someone burned down the church of the Brown family in Ferguson. There is no end of blame going around as to who actually burned the church. Nevertheless, a house of worship lies as a symbol of religion’s inability to bring lasting peace…a symbol of a city in pain.

Recently, a dear African American friend of mine shared that his sons are becoming embittered over the comments people are making about Ferguson. This cut me to the quick. I’ve also seen those comments and wondered at the thoughtlessness of such remarks. I’m not talking about the haters. I’m talking about good, Christian folk who insert political innuendo and fail to also acknowledge a community’s grief over accumulated slights.

We need to understand that this Ferguson “situation” is no longer just about Michael Brown and Officer Darren Wilson. The drama is now also about America. You may disagree that it should be, but that doesn’t stop the fact that, in many people’s minds, it is also an indictment on America. For many, it is about systemic issues, such as racism, and systemic inequities that are way beyond my ability to understand, much less “fix.”

Continue Reading…

All People blog

I don’t even need to mention the many things going on nationally that seem to consume our attention. Thanksgiving is a day to come away. It is not on the religious calendar, but Thanksgiving is my favorite of all holidays. It is one of the last holidays, at least the holiday itself, not coopted by commercialism. In fact, in San Antonio even the grocery stores close for the day.

This morning, in my devotional time, I read Daniel 9 and was blown away. In verse 21, Daniel was praying “at the time of the evening offering.” When the book of Daniel was written, the Jews were living in captivity in Babylon. The Jews were not only living under general subjugation, but Daniel was being personally oppressed because he was praying.

Observations:  Continue Reading…

Ferguson in Dialogue

Alvin Sanders – November 26, 2014 19 Comments

Monday night, I was literally done, pretty much racially fatigued.

I was tired of incident after incident of unarmed black folk being killed by police. I was tired of having to convince my socially engaged, Christ-loving daughters not to throw all whites under the bus. And I was especially tired of going on Facebook and seeing white Christians more concerned about justifying the killing, and the protection of private property, than they were about another young black life being snuffed out.

With this verdict, I now fully understand what the Apostle Paul meant in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good…” because frankly I’m there. You should know that this isn’t my first rodeo. I’m a guy who in 2001 planted a church in the middle of a Ferguson type situation in Cincinnati. But then it started to happen – hope.  Continue Reading…

Three Thoughts On How to Preach About Race

Alvin Sanders – November 25, 2014 3 Comments

All People blog

A pastoral colleague of mine preached on the topic of race recently. Before he did, he asked me for some pointers. What I shared with him I’ll share with you:

  1. Be Candid – Don’t  do the colorblind thing. “I don’t see a black man, I just see a man,” type of mentality is not helpful, especially to majority of those who are people of color in your audience. Acknowledge that race has played a huge role in the shaping of the country, both good and bad.
  2. Be Biblical – There are obvious texts that lend themselves to addressing this. My go-to text is Matthew 22:37-40.
  3. Be Personal – Do you have any stories, good or bad, that involve race? Tell them. And/or find obvious stories of racism or people crossing racial barriers, which I call stories of hope.

Now, I know there are more than three.

If you have (or desire) to preach on race, what tips would you give?