Talking about race can be one of the topics we advise our group leaders to avoid during their group time. It is layered in personal experience, history, politics, and culture that can easily lead to an out of control, polarizing conversation. BUT it doesn’t have to. Jesus told us in John 13:34-35, “Love one another; just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this all people will know you are my disciples.”
By trying to avoid or control the conversation we miss a huge opportunity to show the world the love that Jesus offers. Jesus’ love is a love that advocates for people, crosses cultural norms, and pours out compassion and grace. That is the foundation we start the conversation of race (or any other hard conversation) with.
Talking about racial equality is not just for your black friends, it is for any one who has been covered by the love and mercy of Jesus. As the Small Group Point Person it is important that you decide you are going to be anti-racist! Scale back the layers, the politics, the things that make you say “yea, but…” and make the decision that you value the life of people regardless of their race. From there, encourage your group leaders to do the same.
Then, listen to the podcast I was interviewed on for the 3 Key Elements to Developing an Anti-Racist Culture in your Groups and start the conversation.
Here are some more resources for you, as the small group point person, and for your groups as you navigate these challenging waters.
- Just Mercy – Bryan Stevenson
- The Hate You Give – Angie Thomas
- Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria – Beverly Daniel Tatum
- Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You – Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
- We Are Not Equal Yet: Understanding our Racial Divide – Carol Anderson & Tonya Bolden
- Race Talk and the Conspiracy of Silence: Understanding and Facilitating Difficult Dialogues on Race – Derald Wing Sue
- Worship Together in Your Church as In Heaven – Nikki Lerner & Josh Davis
- The Next Worship: Glorifying God in a Diverse World – Sandra Maria Van Opstal
- How to Be Anti-Racist – Ibram X. Kendi
- Just Mercy
- The Hate you Give
- Teach Us All
- If Beale Street Could Talk
- When They See Us
- Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
- American Son
- The Help
- Hidden Figures
- What I am Learning From my White Grandchildren – Anthony Peterson
- Systemic Racism Explained
- Color Blind or Color Brave – Melody Hobson
- Carl Lentz & Bishop T.D. Jakes at Hillsong East Coast
- A Message of Hope for our House – Louie Giglio, Passion City Church
- Becoming The Bridge: A Conversation with Steven Furtick & John Grey
- Multi-Ethnic Conversations: Eight Week Journey Toward Unity in your Church – Mark DeYmaz & Oneya Fennell Okuwobi
- The Church and The Racial Divide by Trevor At Wood
- Be the Bridge: Pursuing God’s Heart for Racial Reconciliation by LaTasha Morrison
How to incorporate these resources into your group time:
- Read one of the books together and discuss it. You can do it weekly, read a chapter and discuss every week, or you can read it independently then come together to discuss it.
- Have a movie night! Choose one of the movies and watch it together. You can discuss it together right after or you can meet up again for a discussion. A lot of movies have discussion questions that accompany them.
- Do a study that guides your conversation around race. It can be uncomfortable for our leaders to open up such a hard topic, doing a study takes the pressure off of the leader to have the answer and allows the whole group to learn together.
- Include voices of different races into your normal curriculum rotation. Sometimes we don’t pay attention to who is writing the content of our studies, being intentional about adding new voices into your group time will help your group become exposed to different perspectives.
- As you are discussing race, challenge people in your group to cross-reference their information. What is the source of their information? What do other sources say? Consider bringing the information that challenges our views into the conversation.