Found this article about segregation and the church on the Christian Chronicle’s website. It’s a compelling argument for racial diversity in a church body.
At one point, the author writes, “The reasons for separate Sundays have nothing to do with God. They are about what we want — what we want to sing, what we want to hear and what we want to control. Too often we are unable to shed ourselves to submit to God and to one another.”
I think this is exactly accurate.
It’s one reason there are about 60 churches of Christ in Madison County, AL.
Because we all want what we want.
Because we want to agree on everything, do everything exactly the same way, see life through identical eyes.
Because we don’t want to mix with people unlike ourselves.
Because we don’t like awkwardness or feeling uncomfortable.
Because we don’t want to submit to one another or be spiritually generous toward one another.
So we’ve created a system that values similarity over diversity. A huge network of congregations elbowing one another at the table—allowing for the kind of “cafeteria” religion churches of Christ so often criticize and reflecting a schism that doesn’t project unity and peace to outsiders.
You could visit congregations in and around Huntsville for a year and 3 months without ever repeating. Is that really necessary? Is it even healthy?
I think churches benefit from having different races, different personalities, and (don’t burn me at the stake) even some small differences of opinion on how worship should go down. For example, I know people who don’t go to Oak Grove in Henderson not because it’s a black congregation but because their service lasts for almost two hours. Or people who won’t go to Jack’s Creek (another Chester County congregation) because they think drinking coffee in the auditorium is too casual. Are these good reasons to worship separately?
I say all of this because I totally believe diversity in the body changes the way you worship. It reminds you of the limitless power of God to save the lost, of the universal call to discipleship, of God’s fascination with difference.
And it calls you to embody those virtues you’ve learned in Bible class. You have to be patient and loving and selfless and kind. You have to care less about what you want.
When everybody isn’t just like you, you have to be a better person. You have to be like Jesus.