Martin Luther King, Jr. (Still) Matters

Today our nation celebrates the life and prophetic vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. And rightly so. He was a man of courage and Christian conviction, worthy of our admiration and emulation. This year’s celebration is particularly significant for many, as 2015 also marks 50 years since the passage of the Voting Rights Act, an enormous legislative victory against systemic racism in our nation.

Reflecting on Dr. King and his legacy, our country has made great strides, but we have hardly achieved the vision Dr. King longed for. Our nation desperately wants racial unity, but apart from the gospel, those efforts will continue to be in vain.

I’ve collected a few of the resources we’ve written up recently on the issue of racial reconciliation and the gospel. These are still thoughts-in-progress, as we at the Summit walk forward in humility. Because when it comes to racism, as Martin Luther (not King) said, “All of a Christian’s life is one of repentance.”

Does Diversity in the Church Even Matter? This is part 1 of a 4-part series, excerpted from my upcoming book Gaining by Losing: Why the Future Belongs to Churches that Send. Many people might be inclined to leave “race issues” to others, assuming that it is a calling for a select few. But gospel-loving Christians pursue multi-culturalism wherever they can as a sign of Revelation 5:9 and a fulfillment of Jesus’ prayer for unity in the body.

The Gospel Foundations of Multi-Culturalism. Part 2 of the same 4-part series, this post extends the conversation beyond race. Reconciliation is never the end point; glorifying God is. Because the gospel is at the center, we must balance our desire for multi-culturalism with the need to “become a Greek to the Greeks,” reaching the majority culture as well.

How Can a Church Pursue Multi-Culturalism? Part 3 of the 4-part series, this post looks at a few of the nuts and bolts of pursuing a diverse congregation. We have a long way to go as a church, but we’ve realized—among other things—that our staff should always be ahead of the congregation, pushing for more diversity. We shouldn’t ever be trying to catch up.

Don’t Just Attend Multi-Cultural Events; Live Multi-Cultural Lives. Part 4 of the 4-part series, this post is a personal challenge for each of us. Rarely are we are completely unaware of the racial situation. Many of us are aware. But we want to move beyond awareness of racial strife into a situation of real loving interaction. And beyond interaction, we want to see a gospelized community, where the church is truly one as Christ promised. But that doesn’t come from events; it comes from personal, intentional action.

Why We Fail to Progress Past Ferguson. Written in the midst of the national attention directed at Ferguson, Missouri, this post reflects on one major reason we fail to see more progress in race relations. As Philippians 2 notes, we need to put the needs of others ahead of our own. Many of us simply aren’t listening to those on the “other” side. We in the majority culture especially need to “give more” than we expect minority cultures to give.

Two Pastors—One White, One Black—Reflect Together on Ferguson. I wrote this piece with Pastor Chris Green, a friend who has helped our church grow tremendously in our pursuit of diversity. Chris reminds us often that what we’re after isn’t sameness, but oneness. Anyone can rally around a common interest. Only the gospel can unite us despite our various differences.