Preparing for Advent

by Lead Pastor Chad Allen

With 2020 being such a challenging year, many of us know it’s going to be an uphill battle to try and be in the “Christmas spirit” and to feel emotionally engaged with the birth of Christ. Here’s my encouragement to you: Go on the offensive and be proactive by getting an Advent devotional or guide to begin after Thanksgiving.  You may have one already, or you can pick from among the many good ones out there.  

I just ordered this one (see below) for my family because it sounds like it will be a fitting guide for this year.  This is just one more way we can try to abide in Christ during a difficult year, and assertively pursue Joy as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!

The Christmas We Didn’t Expect

Lord’s Supper | Tuesday, November 24

Please mark your calendar for Tuesday, November 24 at 7 PM.  We will take the Lord’s Supper together (virtually) from home.  We’ll be live streaming this time of worship on our website and our CVC Facebook page

If you would like to pick up Communion elements from CVC, we’re happy to provide those to you!  You can stop by between the hours of 9 AM – 4 PM, Monday through Friday, or pick them up on Sunday while you’re here.  If you’re not comfortable coming inside the building, you can call our front desk at 440.746.0404 and we’ll bring them out to your car. 

We hope you’ll join us for this special time of worship and remembrance as we head into the holiday season. 

Live New,
The CVC Team

A Prayer for Election Day

by Lead Pastor Chad Allen

Heavenly Father, the hearts of all leaders, whether they be kings, queens, presidents, senators, governors, congressmen or judges,  are like streams of water in the palms of your hands. You direct them. You turn them (Prov. 21:1). You use every one of them to ultimately advance Your will and Your agenda that you’ve established from since the beginning of all creation. Help us all who follow Christ remember that truth during this time.

Instead of fear, anger or anxiety right now, we pray that you you would remind us that as far as you’re concerned, there’s nothing new under the sun. Whether it was Saul, David, Solomon, Pharaoh, Sennacherib, Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, or Caesar Augustus or Nero or the long most of global leader in modern human history, You’ve dealt with them all. You’re not concerned. So help us rest in Your sovereignty. Father, we live in a land of great freedom, and we pray for our national leaders, that You would guide them in such a way that allows us to live peaceful and quiet lives, pursuing godliness and holiness (1 Tim 2:2). We also ask that you will give our future President wisdom, compassion, courage and godly convictions as he serves our country through his elected office, and for him to have a special concern in his heart for the vulnerable and defenseless from womb to tomb, and for the poor and marginalized and oppressed.  Father, we also pray that our ultimate trust would not fall upon temporal human leaders whose names and faces change, whose character is vulnerable to corruption, and whose laws and policies are not guaranteed to stand.  But may we, the beloved children of God, continue to look to You, our living hope, our unmovable rock, our unchanging God and our righteous and sovereign King.  And May we as Your bride, the church, move forward regardless of the outcome of the election, in faithfulness and unity and as the Gospel proclaiming salt and light of the earth.  In Jesus name, Amen!

Five Steps toward Linking Generations

by Rick Duncan, CVC Founding Pastor

In Titus 2, we see the truth that God wants one generation to impact the next. That often does not happen in the local church. Why? What are the obstacles?

Sometimes, it’s the older generations who  believe the younger generations don’t want their influence. Other times, it’s the younger generations who feel like the older generations don’t have the interest, the energy, or the time to invest in them.

It’s been our observation at CVC that neither of these obstacles are true. 

By and large, younger generations actually do want to be influenced by older people who are not only experienced but encouraging. And older people do indeed want to pass along to others the life lessons that have been learned.

Linking generations doesn’t have to be programmatic or complicated. It can be organic. 

Below is a simple plan to help you connect with someone for the purpose of personal and spiritual growth that is Christ-honoring and kingdom-building.

Five Steps toward Linking Generations

  1. Begin praying passionately that God would put someone from another generation on your heart.
  2. Choose a book of the Bible. Choose a Christian book that you’ve been wanting to read (or that you’ve already read that has impacted your life in a deep way).
  3. Approach the person from that other generation over coffee, via phone call/email/text. Tell them that you think it could be God who has giving you an interest in them. Ask them if they would like to meet with you every week (or every other week) for about an hour to discuss a chapter in a book. Let them know that once you finish the book, you both can evaluate whether or not you want to tackle another one together.
  4. Use the 10 questions below in order to have a conversation about the content of the book. Remember that you’re going to function more like the “guide on the side“ then the “sage on the stage.“ In other words, you don’t have to be the expert in the room. You just need to have spiritual conversations using solid questions. No doubt the Spirit will guide your  conversation so that transformation will take place in both of your lives.
  5. Pray for the person that you are seeking to help grow.

CVC Kids Recommends!

Our CVC Kids team put together a list of resources for parenting and teaching your children to know and love God. Enjoy!

Spiritual Parenting

CVCKids highly recommends this wonderful resource.  Michelle Anthony encourages parents to be the primary spiritual leaders of their children by creating ten environments in their homes.  These environments are meant to maximize spiritual growth and allow for God to do the work of reaching their children by the power of the Holy Spirit.  Michelle Anthony’s writing style is very relatable and mixes practical tips, biblical truths, and strong narratives of personal, real-life examples.  Her writing is both encouraging and convicting, leading parents to better align their child-rearing ideas with those found in the Bible.

by Michelle Anthony

The Biggest Story: How the Snake Crusher Brings Us Back to the Garden

This gem of a book takes you from Genesis to Revelation in ten, short chapters with vibrant, modern illustrations.  It is a joy to read aloud because the words flow off the tongue and aren’t cumbersome or laborious.  Best of all, children will walk away seeing the Bible as one, wonderful story of God and His creation and plan for humanity, rather than a bunch of unrelated little stories.  God is the hero in this book, as He should be, and over-arching biblical themes are written in a way for adults and children, alike, to absorb.  Bonus: For your littlest family members, there is an alphabet board book called The Biggest Story ABC, based on illustrations and ideas taken from the ten-chapter book.

By: Kevin DeYoung, Illustrated By: Don Clark

Long Story Short

Long Story Short was an ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist for good reason.  Designed to be used ten minutes a day, five days per week, this fantastic devotional takes your family through the Old Testament, while always pointing forward to God’s grace through Jesus Christ.  The gospel message is deeply ingrained in each day’s focus.  CVCKids loves how Machowski leads you straight into scripture, covering important things that can get skipped over in storybooks.  There are also nicely done summaries of the scripture reading, meaningful questions, suggested activities, and prayer prompts.

by Marty Machowski

Another high point is that this devotional can be used with a wide range of ages, so your entire family can be involved. We couldn’t agree more with a review by Justin Taylor, managing editor of the ESV Study Bible. He says, Long Story Short is the best material for family devotions I’ve ever seen.  If you’re looking for something careful, creative, and Christ-centered without being corny, confusing, or condescending look no further.” Albert Mohler, Jr., President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, comments, “I have never seen a devotional book that is so well suited to family devotions and to children, even as it is faithful in relating biblical truth.”  Bonus: Machowski has also written a New Testament devotion in the same manner, called Old Story New.

Tales That Tell The Truth: The Garden, The Curtain, and The Cross

“Tales That Tell the Truth” is a series of picture books that tell Bible stories in engaging ways for children. The stories are easy to follow, and the illustrations beautifully convey the emotions and circumstances surrounding the chosen passage. Every story always goes a bit farther that strictly recounting the events. Instead, the stories open our eyes to an important meaning that lies just under the surface, touching on themes such as Jesus’ authority, God’s plan for salvation, trusting the Lord, and hope after death, to name a few. These titles release every few months, with varying authors but always the same illustrator, so keep your eyes opened for new additions to the series.

By: Carl Laferton, Illustrated by: Catalina Echeverri

There are also fun workbooks that you can purchase to go along with the Bible stories. Our giveaway from this series is The Garden, The Curtain, and The Cross, which begins in the Garden of Eden and travels all the way to Jesus’ death and resurrection, and then beyond to heaven. It’s a fabulous presentation of the gospel message, which we encourage you to consider adding to your home library. Other titles in the series include, The Christmas Promise, The One O’ Clock Miracle, The Storm That Stopped, God’s Very Good Idea, The Friend Who Forgives, Goodbye To Goodbyes, Jesus and the Lions’ Den, and Jesus and the Very Big Surprise.

Triggers: Exchanging Parents’ Angry Reactions For Gentle Biblical Responses

This is a great book for any parent who has lost their temper or found that the conversation in their home isn’t what they hope for it to be. Lia and Speake remind us of God’s wonderful truths, giving convicting reasons why we should choose gentle responses. This book gets to the heart of the matter and to the results of the biblical responses. The format is great because it is 31 short chapters, which you could read through each month as a devotion. What an encouragement to start the day with a reminder of God’s heart and where He wants your heart to be as a parent!

By: Amber Lia and Wendy Speake

Indescribable: 100 Devotions About God and Science

If you have a child who is curious about and interested in nature, science, and the way things work, this devotion book is for you! Brightly illustrated and filled with so many interesting and cool facts about the world God created, each of the 100 devotions includes a scripture passage, short prayer, and highlights something wonderful about God.

By: Louie Giglio, Illustrated by: Nicola Anderson

Seeds Family Worship Music

http://www.seedsfamilyworship.com

We know that music is very subjective and can even be divisive. These songs, however, are scripture…word-for-word. So, if you listen consistently, your family will be memorizing Bible verses before you know it. That’s worth it to us! Not only that, but there are some really great tunes on these albums and the arrangements, with authentic instruments and a strong adult lead, interspersed with children’s voices, don’t make you feel as though you are listening to the Disney channel or a kids-only station. I have often listened to the music without my children with me just because I like it! Seeds Family Worship sells their music digitally or in CD form, so it fits any lifestyle.

I Can Read! Companion Books to the Beginner’s Bible

We know there are a lot of beginning readers out there. We have just the thing for you! The Beginner’s Bible, which is our recommended storybook Bible for preschoolers and early elementary-aged children, has companion I Can Read books that correspond to the stories from the Beginner’s Bible. The I Can Read books are a little longer with more pictures and more pages, but the vocabulary and sentence structure is intended to be used in those early stages of learning to read. Now your schoolwork can also be a Bible lesson! We can’t think of a better way for the beginning readers in your home to practice their reading.

By: Zondervan, Illustrated By: Kelly Pulley

Parenting Through the Phases

The new school year is beginning, and you have planned out school lunches and school supplies, bought new clothing and bookbags, taken pictures and filled out forms. Have you, however, considered how you will parent your child in this new phase of his or her life? Parenting Through the Phases may be just what you need to start that process. Rather than giving you all the answers of everything you need to do for your child, it has an interesting format that is part guide, part journal. It asks questions, gives ideas, and highlights important areas to consider in your child’s life, and then gives you space to pray and plan and write down your thoughts, so that you will be an intentional parent this year, getting ready for things before they come rather than dealing with everything moment by moment as it gets thrown at you.

By: Kristen Ivy and Reggie Joiner

Each phase guide informs you of how many more weeks you have left with your child until he or she is officially considered an adult, an overview of what’s changing about your child over the next fifty-two weeks, six things your child needs most, and four conversations to have in this phase. There is a different parenting guide for every year from newborn to twelfth grade, eighteen in total. You can buy a copy at orange.com or christianbook.com.

The World Jesus Knew: A Curious Kid’s Guide to Life in the First Century

In a stack of new-to-us Christian resources to explore, my two boys instantly selected this book. They couldn’t stop looking through it and asked for it again and again. That’s the kind of book I want in my home…a book that will be used and read and examined and loved…a book that will give insight to my children to help them understand the Bible more. The World Jesus Knew gives children a detailed look into what life was like in the Middle East when Jesus walked the earth. It is beautifully illustrated and very informative, covering topics such as the structure of society, vegetation and agriculture, transportation, the Roman army, fishing on the Sea of Galilee, the life of a woman, the Jewish calendar, death and burial, and much more! If you are interested in getting a copy for your home, both amazon.com and christianbook.com carry it.

By: Marc Olson, Illustrated By: Jemima Maybank

The Wonder of the Greatest Gift: An Interactive Family Celebration of Advent

When December rolls around, it is always my goal to make the story of Jesus’ birth the most amazing, celebrated, and wonderful part of the Christmas season.  How is a parent to do that with all the competing, worldly “Christmas magic” that is constantly pulling at our children’s attention?  This resource is one way to bring the beauty and excitement of the arrival of the Messiah to your home.  Ann Voskamp’s book opens to reveal a three-dimensional tree.  There are twenty-five little doors to open that have pretty, Jesse tree ornaments hidden inside.  Hang an ornament on the tree each day and read the brief, yet heart-felt devotion that goes along with it.  The book will take you all the way back to the Garden of Eden and travel through important Bible stories that tie into Jesus’ genealogy and eventually end with His birth. 

By: Ann Voskamp

*Please note that Ann Voskamp has also written another family Jesse tree devotional called Unwrapping the Greatest Gift: A Family Celebration of Christmas that I do not recommend as heartily.  The readings were a bit too long and wordy for my children to enjoy.  The Wonder of the Greatest Gift: An Interactive Family Celebration of Advent is the one to buy, in my opinion, because it had much more manageable readings with the addition of the tree and ornaments.    

Homefront Magazine

HomeFront magazine is a bi-monthly digital publication that is free to download and read.  New Life Church in Colorado Springs, Colorado produces the magazine which is based on the ten spiritual environments discussed in another of our recommended resources, Spiritual Parenting, by Dr. Michelle Anthony.  Because the Holy Spirit is the one who draws people to God, Dr. Anthony encourages parents to create environments, like identity and storytelling and course correction, that “put God on display” in any and every situation for your children to experience Him. The magazine is chock full of articles on a variety of subjects including prayer, tough topics, pop culture items that your child might interact with, grandparenting, and seasonal ideas, to name just a few. It has beautiful photography, memory verses with pretty graphics, interviews with families, prayers and blessings, and even recipes to encourage hospitality and family togetherness.  Give this free resource a try at homefrontmag.com. We’re sure there will be something in there for everyone!

Editor in Chief: Holly Newman

The Big God Story

If you’d like a picture book that tells the story of the Bible in one sitting for young children to absorb and understand, this book is for you.  Dr. Anthony begins at the beginning, continues with the wonderful story of God’s love and faithfulness to His people, highlights the sending of a redeemer through God’s Son Jesus, and ends with an invitation that welcomes children to be part of the story that God is writing, the story in which He is the hero. There is even a place where children are intended to write their names into the book on the very last page. It is important for children to see the Bible as a cohesive book that is connected and is telling one big story, the story of God, the story of life itself.

By: Dr. Michelle Anthony, Illustrated By: Cory Godbey

Christian Heroes: Then and Now

The Benges are a husband and wife writing team, one a former elementary teacher and the other holding a degree in history. They have written a 49-book series of child-friendly biographies chronicling the lives of Christians who have lived for the glory of God and made a difference in the world. These true stories are exciting, compelling, and inspiring. They are great for reading aloud together as a family, capturing the attention of children and adults alike. Some of the names you may come across are Lillian Thrasher, C.S. Lewis, George Muller, Hudson Taylor, and Amy Carmichael, among many others.

By: Janet and Geoff Benge

*Note that the first chapter always takes place at an exciting, pivotal moment in the person’s life. Then, the second chapter goes back in time and tells the biography chronologically. I am not of fan of the way this is set up, so if reading aloud to your family, I recommend reading the first chapter to yourself, and then including it in the correct spot chronologically rather than reading it aloud at the very beginning of the book.

The Tech-Wise Family

The Tech-Wise Family is a fascinating and inspiring read that centers around putting technology in its proper place.  The “easy everywhere” aspect of technology is taking something important away from us as human beings.  We need to see technology with a biblical perspective and set boundaries in our families so that precious things are not lost.  Although author Andy Crouch does not condemn technology as a whole, he does give ten tech-wise commitments that encourage parents to foster wisdom and courage in their home, examine what true work and rest look like, and create environments that promote creativity over consumerism, among other topics.  So, if you’ve been wondering how technology is leaving its mark on you and your children and what to do about it, then I recommend reading this book.

By: Andy Crouch

Sound Doctrine — A List of Resources

Study Bibles

  • ESV Study Bible
  • Life Application Bible

Commentaries

  • New Bible commentary, 21st Century Edition
  • Baker Commentary on the Bible
  • Jamison, Fausset, and Brown’s Commentary on the Whole Bible
  • John MacArthur

FAMILY DISCIPLESHIP

Theological Tools for Parenting Tweens/Teens

  • Brand New: A 40-Day Guide to Life in Christ by Shilo Taylor
  • Essential Truths of the Christian Faith by R. C. Sproul
  • Concise Theology by J. I. Packer
  • Core Christianity by Michael Horton
  • Crucial Questions Set/Series by R. C. Sproul

SYSTEMATIC THEOLOGY

  • Systematic theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem
  • Christian Theology by Millard Erickson
  • Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Christian Belief by John Frame

Books on Christian Ethics

  • Christians Ethics by Norman Geisler
  • The Doctrine of Christian Life by John Frame
  • Choosing the Good: Christian Ethics in a Complex World by Dennis Hollinger
  • An Introduction to Biblical Ethics by David Jones

Resources on other religions and worldviews

  • The Popular Encyclopedia of Apologetics by Ed Hindson and Ergun Caner
  • The Compact Guide to World Religions by Dean Halverson
  • Talking with Catholic Friends and Family by James McCarthy

Preparing for Lord’s Supper

We’ll be taking the Lord’s Supper together during all worship services this Sunday.  Preparing our hearts is an important part of taking communion together. Our Founding Pastor, Rick Duncan, shared some thoughts on how we can prepare for this special time of worship. For those who aren’t able to join us on campus, we’re also offering some tips on how you can participate with us from your home.

Communion (the Lord’s Supper) is an ordinance given to all believers by Jesus to remember His sacrifice for us.  If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ and are in good standing with us at Cuyahoga Valley Church, you are invited to join us online to remember His selfless sacrifice. Consider this as an invitation, not a requirement.

The elements of bread and juice are symbols of Jesus’ broken body and shed blood. Communion is not a means of salvation. It is an act of obedience and worship that demonstrates a believer’s faith in the atoning work of the cross. It’s a way for us to worship, to think soberly about our forgiveness, to commune with Christ, and to reaffirm our surrender to follow Jesus as Lord.

If you don’t feel led to participate or if you feel uncomfortable for any reason about participating, then don’t participate. At that point in the service, simply lift up your heart in gratitude to God for the sacrifice of His Son.  If you are not in the place where you consider Christ Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior or if you are unrepentant about sin in your life, then we would encourage you to pray quietly while others celebrate the Lord’s Supper together.

SCRIPTURE REFERENCES FOR PERSONAL PREPARATION:

  • Matthew 26:26-30
  • Mark 14:22-26
  • Luke 22:19-20
  • 1 Corinthians 11:23-29

HOW TO PREPARE FOR COMMUNION AT HOME

Prepare your heart: Confess all known sin.  Seek restoration with anyone you may have hurt or offended.  God’s Word says that we should not eat of the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy way.  

Gather the elements: Grape juice and bread or crackers – find elements that best approximate those that we would use for Lord’s Supper at CVC.  

Prepare the juice: Serve the juice in individual small glasses for each participant.  We encourage you to use glasses that you would not normally use.  This will help you and your family remember the significance of Communion.  

Prepare the bread or crackers: Use a special dish or tray.  When you share the elements, allow people in your family to access the elements one at a time in order to maintain a safe distance from one another.  

Follow the directions: The Teaching Pastor will guide you to eat and drink together with others in the CVC family of faith.  

Further study on Faith & Politics

This past Sunday we wrapped up our Faith & Politics series called “Poll-arized.” We spent the last four weeks looking at four important issues from a Biblical perspective, knowing that Truth doesn’t come from the “right” or the “left” but from above.

There is a wealth of information out there, especially as we approach the upcoming election, and it is so important to continue pursuing a Biblical understanding of the issues on which we have the privilege to vote.

Here are a few additional resources for further study:

God and Politics by Mark Dever

Politics – According to the Bible by Wayne Grudem

Political Visions and Illusions by David Koyzis

How the Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age by Jonathan Leeman

Before You Vote: Seven Questions Every Christian Should Ask by David Platt

City of God by Saint Augustine

We’re also encouraging our church family to be in prayer throughout the month of October as we approach the election. Here is the Prayer Guide we’re using!

Racial Unity — Additional Resources

Pastor Chad closed out our “Poll-arized” series this past Sunday by speaking on the topic of Racial Unity. In case you missed the message you can find it here. Our team at CVC came up with a list of additional resources from a Christian perspective for further study.

Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby

Plain Theology for Plain People by Charles Octavius Boothe

White Awake by Daniel Hill

I’m Still Here by Austin Channing Brown

Advocates by Dhati Lewis 

Woke Church by Eric Mason

Insider Outsider by Bryan Loritts

Intensional: Kingdom Ethnicity in a Divided World by D.A. Horton 

Racial Reconciliation | ERLC

30 Steps Toward Racial Reconciliation

CVC’s Founding Pastor Rick Duncan wrote a blog that we wanted to share as a follow up to Pastor Chad’s message on Racial Unity this past Sunday.

I wish I had said more. I wish I had done more. I wish I had been more. 

I had a chance. I was aware of the Civil Rights Movement in the 60’s. As a 9th grader, I was coming of age when Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated. But I was a white, self-absorbed teen who, frankly, didn’t think enough or care enough about social justice issues. 

I had relational connections where I could have learned how to make a difference. For 3 years, I played high school basketball on a team with a majority of black athletes. In college, I roomed one summer semester with Steve Chandler, the first black baseball player at Vanderbilt. I played in the outfield in pro baseball with future big league players who were black: Gene Richards, Dave Edwards, Gary Ward, Gary Redus, and Eddie Milner. 

After we planted Cuyahoga Valley Church near Cleveland, Ohio, the first church that CVC planted was a church to reach a predominantly black community in Warrensville Heights, Ohio. That church, Mt. Calvary Baptist Church, is still going strong in nearby Bedford, Ohio under the leadership of Pastor Steve Owens. Next, we called Sam Jackson, a black West Point appointee and a graduate of Columbia Biblical Seminary, to plant an urban church plant in Cleveland. We also supported him when he left us to go to Detroit to plant a church. Over the years, I’ve had the privilege of serving on a wide variety of ministry teams with black leaders. 

So, I had opportunity after opportunity to be better friends with and more supportive of my African American brothers. I could have stood with them against various kinds of discrimination. But I didn’t know enough. I didn’t drill deep enough into the issues. I didn’t say enough. I didn’t do enough. That ultimately means that I didn’t care enough. And I now repent. 

I don’t know how many more years God is going to give me in ministry leadership. But with whatever time I have left, I want to do better and be better. So, lately I’ve been talking to my black friends. I’ve been watching films about racial justice issues. I’ve been reading books like The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby and Advocates by Dhati Lewis.

I’ve been asking, “What does repentance look like for me? What does it look like for predominantly white churches?” As I’ve participated on Facebook Live panel discussions with black pastors, as I’ve conversed with black friends, as I’ve read books and watched podcasts, I’ve been making notes. Dhati Lewis, in his section “How Do We Get There?” tells us how to represent (or REP) Christ well: Reflect personally, Empathize corporately, and Pursue reconciliation (p. 88). Jamar Tisby, in his chapter “The Fierce Urgency of Now,” uses ARC to challenge us toward Awareness, Relationships, and Commitment (p. 195). 

To help me remember what steps I should take next, I’m personally using the acronym PEACE, a word repeated in an important passage about racial reconciliation. [Jesus] Himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that He might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near (Ephesians 2:14-17, EVS).

30 Steps to Take Toward a Greater PEACE…

Personhood

  • Build friendships with people of color. 
  • Have friends of another color in your home for a meal.
  • Hang out in new places where you will meet people of color.
  • Call your friends of another color regularly. 
  • Listen to your black and brown friends tell their personal stories of being discriminated against. 
  • Refuse to dehumanize anyone who shares a different view than you. 

Education

  • Watch documentaries and films about racial injustice. 
  • Read books written by black and brown authors. 
  • Diversify your social media input.
  • Visit websites maintained by people of color. 
  • Visit museums dedicated to issues surrounding racial justice. 
  • Read black theologians and commentators. 
  • Sing and explain worship songs written by people of color. 
  • As you read the Bible, look for scripture that promotes racial harmony.
  • Identify how your heart, history, and heritage plays a role in your own cultural bias. 

Action

  • Join an organization that advocates for racial and social justice. 
  • Speak to candidates and elected officials about their political positions.
  • Create something – like a picture, a song, a blog post, a video, a poem, an article, a letter to the editor – that addresses the issue.
  • Vote for proactive candidates who have a track record of pursuing justice. 
  • Confront others when disparaging remarks are made about black and brown people. 
  • Be careful how you share the words of leaders who practiced slavery. 
  • Remember to use your privileges well. 

Contributions

  • Fund black-led church plants
  • Support bi-vocational black pastors
  • Help black pastoral students with their tuition

Empowerment

  • Encourage seminaries and colleges to hire people of color. 
  • Encourage churches to hire people of color. 
  • Work toward having black and brown people on committees, in conferences, and on panels.
  • Quote black leaders and pastors. 
  • Quote black theologians and commentators. 

What would you add to this list? 

God’s people have been called to walk on the “highway of holiness.” On one side of that highway is a ditch where the gospel message is maximized and social justice is minimized. On the other side of that highway is a ditch where social justice is maximized and the gospel message is minimized. We must avoid the ditches. Isn’t it glorious that the holistic gospel actually includes racial reconciliation (II Corinthians 5:18)? We don’t have to promote racial reconciliation at the expense of the gospel. And we don’t have to promote the gospel at the expense of racial reconciliation. 

In a review of Tisby’s book on The Gospel Coalition’s website, Daniel K. Williams writes, “A simple proclamation of a narrowly defined version of the gospel, without application of God’s moral law, is unlikely to correct spiritual blindness and sins. Biblical teaching on God’s call for justice in social relationships and on specific ways in which whites can love their neighbors of another race is required. And when white Christians see ways in which their own church traditions’ records on race are laced with sin, they should admit the wrong and seek justice and racial reconciliation.”

In one of my first calls to a black friend who is a pastor I asked, “What can I do?” He gave me four words that resoundingly are echoing in my soul: “Use your privilege well.” 

I have big-time regrets that I have not leveraged my blessings as well as I should have. I should have been a louder voice. I should worked more toward racial reconciliation with the influence God entrusted to me. That’s why I’m now telling the younger leaders around me, “Don’t end up with the same regrets that I’m experiencing. Take the years you have left and use them well.” 

Tisby’s book ends with a Christiological call to courageous leadership. “Jesus crossed every barrier between people, including the greatest barrier of all – the division between God and humankind. He is our peace, and because of His life, death, resurrection and coming return, those who believe in Jesus not only have God’s presence with us but in us through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we have the power, through God, to leave behind the compromised Christianity that makes its peace with racism and to live out Christ’s call to a courageous faith.” 

So, what steps could you take to use your privilege better? What steps will you take? Who will help you? And when will you start?