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If I’m 100% honest—I’m tired of talking about racial reconciliation. I’m not referring to pockets of helpful dialogues that consider whether the Gospel has direct implications of a multi-ethnic universal Church. I also don’t mean that it isn’t important to speak loudly against racial injustice, nor do I discourage championing a Christ-initiated cause of a justice that rightly divides Scripture in its response. I’m just done with the racial reconciliation banner.

In my view, the “racial reconciliation” banner is becoming a display of intellectual inactivity that is an eyesore of idleness and indifference. On a large scale of evangelical thought and action, the conversation is not translating to conversion. There are inter-church politics that war against true change, and the blind spots are largely going unaddressed.

Amidst the public handshakes and hugs, the coffee and conferences, there is a platforming of a type of humility that isn’t changing much of anything. I’m not a nationally known preacher or author, but in many ways I’ve found it more helpful to be a pastor on the ground level. What I can do at the ground level is ask the individuals that make up the mass of likes, retweets, and shares — what has practically changed in the way you approach racial reconciliation? The answers are a bit staggering:

“I’m not sure what to do, to tell you the truth.”

“I think it’s important, sure. But honestly, I live in an area that doesn’t have a huge population of black people, so I don’t see where I can change much.”

“It’s hard to say, really. I actually think its time to move on from this conversation. I love all people, and I don’t really struggle with racism personally.”

These are a few specific responses that represent many more of the same tone and conclusion—indifference. So you mean to tell me that despite the myriad of sermons, articles, books, and conferences that are sweeping the evangelical church under the “racial reconciliation” moniker…you still don’t care? That’s very interesting.

One thing I can say about the responses from the average congregant or casual evangelical church member (some staff too) is that they are honest. I can clearly see and engage these folks from their disillusionment and clearly communicated disconnect.

However, what has been the most disappointing is the general response I get from most staff leaders and many evangelical pastor. Their responses are clouded in right-sounding presentations, but their conclusions look just like those of the congregants’.

Yes sir, your theological framework is flawless. Yes friend, your literary source is on point. Amen brother, that sermon was communicated so well. You’ve even hired a black staff person in your “aggressive” pursuit of change – I see you bro!

However, can I ask you: how have your people-to-people relationships changed with the black pastors in your city? How has your church subculture acquiesced to a totally different demographic? I appreciate your Tye Tribbet worship band rendition, but have you ever been to a church service that executes his piece way better than you do? You have moved into that neighborhood full of hustlers and killers, but have you ever introduced yourself to them? Does the local barbershop even know where your church is? Crickets.

The reason I say the general evangelical pastor response to the “racial reconciliation” banner is disappointing is because it is heavy on politics, and light on policy. John Piper writes Bloodlines, Russell Moore is published by Huffington Post, and naturally the swing is toward this new, hot movement and you’d better get your stake in the ground.

It then becomes a race to get the next respected, black, theological expert on the panel or the preaching platform of the “racial reconciliation” conference. This uninformed stampede toward a pseudo-solution is sorely lacking something: integrity. When you hear the powerful words of a black preacher who uncovers this topic with surgical precision and profound Biblical soundness, you respond with awe and bow in repentance, but you go home to your churches and change virtually nothing.

In many senses, this inaction leads evangelicals to become willful hostages to their own homogeny. As someone personally working and investing quite a bit in this multi-ethnic church vein, I’m feeling the weight of my commitments. However, I look across the landscape, and the actions and words aren’t lining up in the evangelical world. I’m reading James 2, and almost yelling aloud with the text: “show me your faith by your works!” Yet, I’m continually told to apply the grace of gradual progress and be thankful for baby steps of progress in turning the evangelical supertanker in a better direction.

I’m not necessarily against that admonition. I want to be patient and full of grace when thinking through this subject. However, I’m left asking “what is the admonition for the other side of the coin?” When I see evangelicals patting each other on the back for having prominent black speakers speak at their church or subjugating themselves to the “horrors” of inner city life in gentrified neighborhoods, all while subtly maintaining the power-wielding status of the majority, I am genuinely angry.

Don’t politicize the progress you’re really not willing to pursue. Be honest if you don’t really care about racial reconciliation more than your Sunday attendance numbers and a healthy church budget. It’s becoming harder and harder to swallow.

These words have a harsh tone. I’m aware of that. However, contrary to popular “grace” teaching, emulating a frustrated, dare I say, irritated, tone isn’t necessarily sinful. I hearken back to Moses, the prophets, the apostles, and even Jesus Himself and see the same tone given, depending on the conduct of their audiences.

One of the saddest realities about being in this frustrated state is that it lends to the possibility that the audience I wish to address won’t care how I feel. So yep, go ahead and drop on me the theological responsibility I have to give a soft answer and skillfully reply with words that are seasoned with salt. I accept that reproof. It still doesn’t change the fact that I have to look at people and systems that will not ever repent for their gross dishonesty.

I’ll have to smile and bear your privileged perspective on how I should bear these burdens. I’ll have to endure these plastic presentations of a Gospel-saturated “racial reconciliation,” and I’ll struggle interpreting whether you truly believe in it at all. I’ll have to make all the sacrifices to come to your world knowing you’ll make little to no sacrifice coming to mine. And that, brothers and sisters, is hard.

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