At the Center for Healthy Churches we don’t tend to dwell on controversial topics. We’re an organization that focuses on congregational best practices. Hiring well, articulating a clear vision, being intentional with stewardship—these practices aren’t always easy but they rarely touch on the fault lines of the larger cultural divide.
Sometimes, however, getting healthy isn’t just about what we do internally, it’s about how we relate to our surrounding context. For instance, an alcoholic typically won’t get healthy until he adapts his social context. Cancer patients often have to pay close attention to the people around them because they have compromised immune systems. Being healthy isn’t just an individual choice it often requires a social strategy.
Take, for instance, the changing American attitudes toward smoking. First it was common place, then attitudes toward started changing, but it was still considered a matter of individual choice. That remained true until health experts began to realize the dangers of second hand smoke. And so we had to move beyond a strategy focused on individuals to one that protected everyone.
Which brings us to your church and the issue of racism. Racism is in the air we breathe. It’s not enough to say we aren’t racists as individuals. We’ve still got work to do if we want to keep it from killing us.
Churches should be leading the way on this issue, but many of our churches already are so scared of the divisiveness around them and the loss of size and resources that come from post-Christendom, that the thought of tackling such a heated issue is daunting.
But the way to health for your church can never be separated from our larger Kingdom mission. Jesus never charged us with being big and influential, he charged us with being faithful and teaching others to do what Jesus himself did.
Our churches can’t be healthy if we’re letting people die around us. Let’s get to work clearing the air.