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“Oh, your dad’s a pastor?” he asked. “Is it a missionary Baptist church?”

I smiled at the questioner, shaking my head. “No, it’s a Reformed Baptist church,” I told him.

He grabbed a handful of materials from his booth at the conference we were both attending. “That’s great! We have lots of resources for pastor’s in urban contexts!”

“Awesome,” I said, grabbing the pamphlets without having the heart to tell him that, for as long as I can remember, my dad has been on staff at predominately white churches in suburban contexts.

Our church surroundings are “diverse” because we make them that way. I mean, when you’re a black family of ten, you make an impact sitting in the pew at Sunday school.

Joking, aside, the fact remains that many black families in search of doctrinally-sound churches will find themselves in ethnically monolithic contexts at one time or another. Further, many of those wanting to blaze a trail of multi-ethnic ministry might have to be the lonely starting point in their local congregations. In United, Trillia offers advice to people who may find themselves in this circumstance: Pray. Evangelize. Show Hospitality. Go. And Stay.

Continue to pray that God would give you opportunities to reach out. Evangelize, inviting people from all different sorts of backgrounds to your church. Show hospitality to build community among those who are different from you. Be willing to stay in a situation that may not be as comfortable for you.

The church is the Bride of Christ, and we, as believers, are called to love and build up the Bride at the cost of our own comfort. God wants us in church, and he wants us building community with our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Once this becomes non-negotiable (Hebrews 10:24-25), the next steps becomes simpler: love the Bride and build the up Bride.

This week’s discussion questions are from Trillia’s study guide for United:

  1. What are you looking for when you search out a church?
  2. We’ve heard the saying “be the change you want to see.” What do you think about that saying? Do you think it could be useful in the context of selecting a church?
  3. Have you resisted getting to know people within your church? How might developing authentic relationships help or change your experience?
  4. If you’ve developed relationships already, how has it helped your church experience?
  5. How do you believe God views the church and its role in the believer’s life?

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