Today, we celebrated one of the best among us; Martin Luther King, Jr. He possessed a unique ability to go beyond shallow, individual-focused faith and bring the prophetic voice of scripture to bear on the world in its entirety. King’s dream has sadly and shamefully gone demonstrably unfulfilled on Sunday mornings, when congregations resemble more a 60s era Woolworth’s counter than the kingdom of God.
We cannot claim the dream of Martin Luther King, Jr. if we are not ready to practice it. “Practice it” in the sense that it may be messy, and it may take us more than once to get it right. But MLK’s dream is aligned with God’s dream; that our world -and our congregations – align with the not only purposes but also the population of heaven. The Good Samaritan is not only a story of good intentions, but also a story of radical reconciliation.
If the church is to be taken seriously as a means of reconciliation, it must demonstrate it. Our students can do more than create Facebook profiles for church elders, they can lead the body of Christ in becoming more whole. You can lead them by –
- Seek out a pastor or student minister of a different race
Reconciliation and relationship won’t happen with your students if it first doesn’t happen with you.
- Find a sister church
Connect with, talk to, and share events with a church made up of people different than yours. Don’t “minister” to them. Prepare your students for awkwardness. Embrace awkwardness. Model healthy conversation.
- Creating formal opportunities for sharing stories
I have yet to see a curriculum that created bonds and bridges more than simply sharing ones story. Stories transcend statistics. Stories smooth over stereotypes. Stories enlarge empathy and create opportunity for connection. Replace your regular talk-time with students’ storytelling – you’ll be glad you did.
Too often good intentions get ground in the grist of ministry. Embracing Jesus means a radical commitment to one another. Practicing Pentecost by allowing the Holy Spirit to show up in the midst of a mixed-bag crowd will be a powerful demonstration of what the Holy Spirit is still doing among us.