Today for Leadership Journal I had the privilege of speaking with Bryan Loritts, lead pastor of Fellowship Memphis and the son of Crawford Loritts, the popular author and pastor. Bryan has written extensively and spoken on racial reconciliation in the church and pastors a congregation in one of the most racially tense areas of the country. One question I asked him was this:
How can pastors and church leaders, of any race, promote racial reconciliation in their churches?
First, preach the gospel of Jesus Christ. When Paul writes Ephesians chapter 2, before he gets to our horizontal reconciliation in verse 11, he deals with our vertical reconciliation with God in verses 1-10. As he would say to the Corinthians, being reconciled to God through the substitutionary atoning work of Jesus Christ is of first importance.
Second, be intentional. Race is a human social fabrication. Biologically there’s no such thing (just one human race). However, the social construct of race has been woven so deeply into the fabric and psyche of our nation, that we cannot be passive when it comes to matters of racial reconciliation. We have to be deeply intentional, the same kind of intentionality we find in Christ who by his blood “ransomed” people from every nation tribe and tongue (Revelation 5:9-10).
Third, live what you are trying to lead. This is Leadership 101 and applies to everything, especially matters of race. Again, we see this in Paul. Notice the people he hangs out with. In Romans 16, Paul gives a shout out to his friend Rufus…Rufus! That ain’t a Jew! Paul did life with people who were ethnically different than him. If the leader isn’t experiencing ethnically diverse relationships how can he with any sense of authenticity tell people to do what he’s not doing?