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The BIG Announcement!

In the spirit of Lebron James’ “Big Decision,”  I thought it would be appropriate to title this post The BIG Announcement.  For those of you who follow my Twitter/Facebook streams, you are aware that I’ve had something to share and I can’t wait to share it.  Well that something to share is a message and a burden that God has laid on my heart for as long as I can remember.

That message, burden and story to share is dealing with the lack of ethnic diversity in the church, and the taboo nature of the overall discussion.  For years as a Prison Warden, I dealt with the tough issues of race, ethnicity and religion behind the walls and razor wire.  As a lobbyist and Political Consultant, I was able to be a part of making some impact in the areas of race and ethnicity at all levels of our political system.

As a pastor, I have been burdened by the fact that a statement Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. made over 40 years ago still rings true today, “We must face the sad fact that at 11 o’clock on Sunday morning, when we stand to sing… we stand in the most segregated hour in America, and the most segregated school is Sunday School.”

Let’s cut to the chase.  After months of negotiations and conversations with a number of Christian Publishing Companies, including some of the largest.  I have signed a book publishing deal with New Leaf Publishing Group, for a book that will address the issue of the lack of diversity in the church.  The book will identify the primary reasons why, confront those issues head on and offer practical solutions to address this age-old problem.

More details on the release date, title etc. to come.  For those of you that know me, you probably already know what the title will be. 🙂

I am looking forward to working with the great people at New Leaf, as a matter of fact I have a strategy meeting with them for most of the day today.  They are bringing Jon Dale in to be a part of this meeting and help with the overall strategy.  If you don’t know who Jon is, he was one of the 9 people that was selected to go through Seth Godin’s MBA Program.  I love New Leaf’s commitment to this project.  Again, more info. to come in the near future…

I want to personally thank those whom I’ve worked closely with in ministry, every single person who has ever sent me an encouraging note, read my blog, tweets and Facebook updates. Thanks for listening to the things that I have to share and thanks for being a part of my offline/online family.  Through your engagement, God has given me a platform to share this bold and needed message with the world.

The BIG Announcement… dream BIG. think BIGGER.

(Disclosure)  Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh will not be writing the book with me; however it will have some commentary from some super stars.

The Church Has A Blindside

blindside 2Most of us know all to well that most communities are separated by a set of train tracks.  I’m referring to the tracks that divide the area that looks like this, from the area that looks like that.  Although some communities might not be divided by physical train tracks, they are divided by invisibly visible barriers of community landscape.  Drive far enough one direction and you will see what I’m talking about.  When we get out of our comfortable little circles and go across the tracks, we begin to change from the inside out.

I thought the blockbuster movie “The Blind Side” provided an excellent illustration of the outreach that happens when people go across the tracks.  When Christians get out of their comfort zones, their eyes are opened wide. “The Church” truly becomes the hands and feet of Christ in a community that’s less than a 20-minute drive from their suburban utopia.

In the movie The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock plays the role of Leigh Anne Tuohy.  The Tuohy’s are a Christian family led by wealthy restaurant chain owner Sean Tuohy, played by Tim McGraw.  The short and skinny on the movie is the fact that a kid from the other side of the tracks got a shot to attend a rich private school, the Tuohy’s adopt him, he learns how to read, gets his grades up, becomes an excellent right tackle, learns to protect the quarterbacks Blind Side, goes on to play college ball at Ole Miss and eventually gets drafted in the 2009 NFL by the Baltimore Ravens.  There were several scenes in the movie where Lee Anne Tuohy was heart broken by what she experienced in “The Hood” only 20 minutes from her beautiful suburban home in an area that she never realized existed.

She began to have a real desire to reach out and give to a need that she was totally unaware of.  She even confronted some of her rich swanky girlfriends about their negative stereotypes as she had a desire to connect with and change a community that she never knew existed.  Her perspective had changed, Change Your Perspective, Change The Game. The Blind Side has changed the game for the millions of people.   The movie will continue to impact future generations, as it reminds us that Small pushes over time will result in Big Changes.

The Church Has A Blind Side and it’s time to face that blind side with boldness.  The Church is called to love people and we are called to love our neighbor.  That neighbor we are called to love is not only the one that lives next door or in the impoverished community over seas.  We are called to love that neighbor that lives across the tracks, no matter which side of the tracks you are on.  The Church Has A Blind Side and it’s the comfortable recliner of a pew called comfortable familiarity.  It’s Time To Cover The Church’s Blind Side!

We don’t have to go across the world to provide for those in need… sometimes we need to simply Reach Across The Tracks!

What Do You Think?

Christians You Don't Have To…

train tracksChristians You Don’t Have To Go Across The World To Experience Diversity, Simply Go Across The Tracks.  There are many different ways for congregations to connect with a diverse group of people and going on an international mission trip is not the only solution.

Most churches give both time and resources to other non-profits, outreaches, ministries and mission efforts.  As it relates to Church Diversity, ministry leaders should look at the percent of their personal outreach and philanthropic budget that goes towards local multicultural organizations.  I’m not implying that a church should cut their international missions budget, I’m just saying look local.

The reality is church organizations can make great strides in impacting church diversity by exposing their congregation to local multicultural partnerships and outreach.  Congregations can find multicultural organizations to give to, partner with and work alongside.  When Jesus said go into all the world, that didn’t simply mean go around the globe—for many churches that simply means go across the train tracks.

For those of you who may not understand what “the other side of the train tracks” means, its referring to the fact that most communities were and some still are racially segregated by a set of train tracks or a dividing street.  It can be “The Hood” on one side of the tracks and things get a little nicer, cleaner and newer on the other side.  Hood or not, many times there is just a clear racial divide.

I thought the blockbuster movie “The Blind Side” provided an excellent illustration of what happens when people go across the tracks; the experience can be similar to an international mission trip.  When Christians get out of their comfort zones and be the hands and feet of Christ in a community that’s less than a 20-minute drive from their suburban utopia, eyes are opened.  In the movie The Blind Side, Sandra Bullock plays the role of Leigh Anne Touhy.  The Tuohy’s are a Christian family led by wealthy restaurant chain owner Sean Tuohy, played by Tim McGraw.  The short and skinny on the movie is the fact that a kid from the other side of the tracks got a shot to attend a rich private school, the Tuohy’s adopt him, he learns how to read, gets his grades up, becomes an excellent right tackle, learns to protect the quarterbacks Blind Side, goes on to play college ball at Ole Miss and eventually gets drafted in the 2009 NFL by the Baltimore Ravens.

There were several scenes in the movie where Lee Anne Tuohy was heart broken by what she experienced in “The Hood” only 20 minutes from her beautiful suburban home, in an area that she never realized existed.  She had a desire to reach out, give and make a difference.  She confronted some of her rich swanky girlfriends about their negative stereotypes as she had a desire connect with and change a community that she never knew existed.  She realized that You Don’t Have To Go Across The World To Experience Diversity and Serve The Under-served… You Simply Need To Go Across The Tracks.

Why don’t we simply go across the tracks more often?  Share your thoughts!

"Church Diversity Sucks!" #TheNines

Share your thoughts on this message. Thanks in advance for joining the conversation.

Church Diversity Sucks (Reason #3)

ignoranceReason #3 Ignorance

There are some ignorant people in this world and many of those ignorant people are leading churches around the country.  Before you get all bent out of shape and begin to say things in your head like “Who you callin’ ignorant Willis or My pastor is not ignorant” let’s look at the definition of ignorance.  I have actually copied the entire chunk of definitions, in order to provide more context.

Ignorance:

  1. The condition of being ignorant; the want of knowledge in general, or in relation to a particular subject; the state of being uneducated or uninformed.
  2. Ignorance is the curse of God, Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven. –Shak.
  3. (Theol.) A willful neglect or refusal to acquire knowledge which one may acquire and it is his duty to have. –Book of Common Prayer.

By looking at these definitions of ignorance, each and every one of us are ignorant about some things; although just because I am ignorant doesn’t mean I have to stay ignorant.  There are so many pastors, church leaders and congregations that lack the knowledge of this particular subject called Church Diversity.  They don’t know what to say in fear of offending someone, they don’t know where to start because they are uneducated in this area, they assume things that aren’t true because they are uninformed and the list goes on and on.

Let’s take another look at the 3rd. definition of ignorance (above) from the book of common prayer.   “A willful neglect or refusal to acquire knowledge which one may acquire and it is his duty to have.”   I personally feel that pastors and church leaders have a duty and responsibility to at least be knowledgeable about Church Diversity; this knowledge is the beginning of understanding.  If our mission is to lead people to become fully devoted followers of Christ, we have to understand that sometimes that “People” will not always be the box of people that look like us or those currently attending our church.

I will close with definition #2 from above: Ignorance is the curse of God, Knowledge the wing wherewith we fly to heaven.  If pastors and church leaders at least make an effort to be knowledgeable and educated on what it means to embrace diversity it will change their minds, heart and perspective.  Does this mean they will have a diverse church tomorrow?  Absolutely not!  Again, if church leaders and pastors at least open their minds and hearts to learn… God will do the rest in context of their church and their community.  Be Open and Don’t Be Ignorant!  

Are You Ignorant?  Is Your Church Ignorant? Is Your Pastor Ignorant? Do We Have To Stay Ignorant? Thoughts!

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