November 6, 2013
By Chris Lahr
Are you colorblind?
I find it interesting in the Church that it is mostly white folks that talk about the need for a multicultural (or multiethnic) church. I do not know a lot of African American preachers trying to recruit white folks to their congregations so that they can reflect the multiethnic worship experience we find in Revelations 7.
Why is that? After some reflection I think it comes back to the colorblind problem.
Multiethnic churches started by white people are often very white in their power structure (white folks calling the shots) in the way they worship, etc. Being a diverse church or university does not mean that you simply add people of color into the mix, but that you carve out a space for them, in all of their gifts and inadequacies so that they can truly be a part of the larger community.
Too often white folks are in a rush to “use their gifts” which often translates into being in charge. If you truly desire being a part of a multicultural church attend a predominantly African American or Hispanic congregation and just show up. Do not worry about using your gifts, but rather show up and just be. Learn the songs, get to know the people, and most importantly… eat the food. As you build relationships and earn the right to be heard allow them to invite you to use your gifts. This will take longer but taking the role of a learner and taking the time to really grow roots will set the stage for real reconciliation.
Unity does not mean uniformity. The goal of reconciliation is not colorblindness, and sameness. Rather the goal of reconciliation is gaining an appreciation of that which is different and allowing those differences to speak life to us. We are all created in the image of God and we all have gifts and we all have inadequacies in and of ourselves. We are made for community but not just the homogeneous gathering of people we find every Sunday at 11am. We are made to be with and learn from people of every race and background.
Chris Lahr is the General Manager for Timoteo, a mentoring ministry in Philadelphia (www.timoteofootball.com). Chris has lived in Philadelphia the past 13 years with his wife and three daughters.