Is It Okay For Sunday Morning To Be Segregated?

Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said that Sunday mornings at 11:00 is the most segregated hour in America. Are you okay with that? Would it surprise you to know that most churchgoers are?

I get why it’s easier and more comfortable to attend churches in which you are in the cultural majority. A couple weeks ago I was able to slip out and attend a church in town that is predominately black. It was a great experience for me as it put me in a position that I’m not used to at church–I was the outsider. Beyond the basics of just being a first time visitor and not knowing where to park, it was a little uncomfortable being in a full room but being only one of a handful of white people.

Of course the music and preaching were different than The Crossing. You’d expect that if you visited any new church regardless of it’s cultural identity. But while I was trying to worship, I admit that I was wondering if it was okay for me to be there. I felt like I stuck out in the crowd making me so self-conscious that I was more focused on me than God. What makes all this even weirder is that everyone there was as friendly and nice as they could be. I hope that people at The Crossing treat new people as well as I was treated at that church.

All that to say I am just starting to get a personal education on why churches tend to draw people of the same cultural and racial background. I have a decent understanding of the historical issues and the sociological reasons but my visit to another church taught me things that I couldn’t learn in books.

Knowing that it’s a lot easier to attend a homogenous church, is it okay if Sunday morning remains segregated? If there are good churches out there made up of primarily black, white, asian, etc… Christians, is it okay for us to worship with people who look like us and share our cultural values?

I don’t know.

Here are 4 reasons that it might not be okay to be content with racially homogenous churches.

1. The power of the cross to reconcile that which is different and sometimes hostile to each other.

Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

It’s not that in Christ these categories no longer exist as if once a person becomes a Christian he/she is no longer a man or a woman. It’s that any hostility is removed when we realize that what we have in common in Christ is far more important than the differences. The gospel’s power to reconcile is displayed more in a culturally diverse church.

2. The call to love my neighbor isn’t followed by a list of exceptions of people who are excluded from that command. That’s one of the main points Jesus makes in the story of the Good Samaritan. We are called to love people who are different than us. That will happen more often if I attend church with people different than me.

3. As Dave said on Sunday night at the unity service: We have more in common with Christians of different races and cultures than we do with our own family.

Matthew 12:48-50 He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

4. If we will all worship together in heaven, should we start moving toward that now?

Revelation 7:9-10 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

 

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