When It Comes to Your Youth Ministry – Did George Floyd Die for Nothing?
It’s an awful picture – a white cop with his knee on the neck of a black man. The awfulness turns to horror when you realize the knee was there for about 8 minutes. The horror morphs into outrage when we learn that George Floyd died.
Predictably and appropriately, millions of people all over the world began to march in protest against racial inequality and injustice. Cumulatively, these marches have generated a huge amount of energy and motivation for change.
The question is what should be done with all that energy? Even more to the point – what are you going to do with all that energy?
Strictly speaking, marches don’t change things. They provide the energy for change to occur. But the change itself happens in the back rooms where local, state, and national laws are made. Change happens in the thoughts people think, the words people say, and the actions people take. There’s a lot of energy out there right now to fuel that change. This kind of potential only happens once in a generation.
But the church in the USA has a horrible track record when it comes to taking advantage of this kind of potential. It’s as if we’re a football team that doesn’t train, doesn’t practice, doesn’t prepare. There’s no playbook and nobody knows what position they’ve been assigned. As a result, when game time rolls around, we get out on the field and look like a bunch of fools.
Well folks, it’s game time again and you’re on the field. If you’re prepared, you’ll be able to leverage this opportunity. It could change the lives of your students, your church, your town, and who knows what else? We could actually make some progress against the evil of racism that has plagued our country for centuries.
At my church, times like these are called “pivotal circumstances.” God is very clever at using these pivotal circumstances to bring about change. But history shows that a lot of churches choose to ignore this divine agenda. Now it’s your turn to choose. What’s it gonna be?
If you’re not prepared for “the game,” don’t beat yourself up.
This is going to be a long game.
You might not do great in the first quarter.
But if you get on it, you might be able to turn things around.
Here are a few ideas to consider if you’re interested in your kids adopting a Christ-centered approach to fighting racism.
Pray Pray Pray.
God wants to do something in and through you and your students to further the Kingdom’s work against racial injustice. Ask God what it is. But heed this advice – “Never act without praying and never pray without acting.”
Look at your kids, either in the room or online (depending on where you are with your COVID19 policies.) Does your group reflect the level of diversity that characterizes the school(s) they attend? If not, it’s time to do a gut-check. Why does your group look different? What can be done to change that? Beware of making excuses. Focus on making changes.
BTW, if your efforts to create a more racially representative student ministry cause some friction with the rest of your church, email me – firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll talk.
There are a lot of really good YouTube videos, books, podcasts, and speakers out there addressing the issue of racism. Listen to some of it and decide what will work with your students. Then get that content in front of your kids. If you don’t know where to start, check out the movie “Just Mercy.”
Create some experiences that your kids will never forget. Find a church filled with people who don’t look like you and figure out a way to connect with them. Take your kids somewhere outside of their racial comfort zone. Just make sure there’s plenty of time to prepare them before hand and debrief with them afterwards. And don’t think this is just an opportunity for rich white kids. Not too long ago my friend C.J. Stewart brought about 25 black kids from south Atlanta to visit an affluent white church. I’m not sure who benefitted most, the church or the kids.
Your kids represent the future of the church. They need to start preparing for the day when they’ll be running the show. Why not give them some practice at that by asking them for their ideas about how to be anti-racist? Listen carefully and take them seriously. They may come up with something that could be a game changer – not only for your students but maybe even for you.
Let me mention one more thing…
We used a football metaphor to describe the opportunity we have to make a difference in the fight against racial injustice. We focused on what’s happening down on the field. But I want to end by focusing on the crowd in the stands. That’s where the world sits. That’s where all the people who were in the streets protesting sit.
They’re watching to see what the church is going to do.
They’re watching to see if the church cares enough to join them in the fight.
They’ve become increasingly cynical.
Sadly, many of them expect nothing from the church in the fight against racism. But they’re still in the stands – watching.
Let’s give them something to watch.
Let’s show them that the Gospel impacts every form of human suffering.
Who knows? If we get this right, they may come down on the field and join us. But the clock is ticking. The time to redeem George Floyd’s death is now.
For resources connected with on race and racial reconciliation, check out John’s book Black And White as well as YS speaker LaTasha Morrison new book Be The Bridge, both available now at the YS Store!
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.