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EHS and Bridging Racial/Cultural/Economic Barriers

At our recent Emotionally Healthy Leadership Conference, I offered the most comprehensive view of what I believe the EHS contribution is to this enormous problem in the global church. Click here to hear the first 30 minutes Racial Reconciliation Workshop

The following are a few points from my notes:

I. The Challenge Before Us

“Despite devoting considerable time and energy to solving the problem of racial division, white evangelicalism likely does more to perpetuate the racialized society than to reduce it” Divided by Race: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America, Michael Emerson and Christian Smith. This problem is global — from Turkey to Israel to South America to Africa to Northern Ireland to Bosnia to Russia. David Brooks of the NY Times describes trends in the USA: “Not long ago, people said that globalization and the revolution in communications technology would bring us all together. But the opposite is true. People are taking advantage of freedom and technology to create new groups and cultural zones. …people are moving into self-segregated communities with people like themselves, and building invisible and sometimes visible barriers to keep strangers out…40 million Americans move every year. And they generally move in with people like themselves. Crunchy places like Boulder attract crunchy types and become crunchier. Conservative places like suburban Georgia attract conservatives and become more so.”

II. The New Testament gives us a vision of the Church as a multi-racial, multi-cultural people that transcends national, social, racial, gender, ethnic, gender barriers. Our sense of  “loveability” comes now out of deep sense of our new selves in Christ. Unlike the world, we no longer bolster our sense of identity, our feeling of acceptability, by excluding others. Rather we find it in Christ.

III. EHS is a spiritual formation paradigm that drives us all to look deeply in our interiors that Christ might transform us. The seven principles are explained in The Emotionally Healthy Church (Zondervan, 2010, Updated and Revised).

  • Look Beneath the Surface
  • Break the Power of the Past
  • Live in Brokenness and Vulnerability
  • Receive the Gift of Limits
  • Embrace Grief and Loss
  • Make Incarnation the Model to Loving Well
  • Slow Down to Lead with Integrity

How, for example, do you expect an White American enter into your pain of discrimination or racism when he or she doesn’t yet feel or grieve their own? How can they let you in to know them when they don’t know themselves?

IV. Personalization. By doing our own internal work around our triggers and wounds, we can enter into painful, difficult conversations around race, history, culture, forgiveness, etc. without taking things personal. Our history at NLF teaches us that, to be engaged in this level of spiritual warfare with powers and principalities (Eph. 6:12ff), requires a high level of differentiation and self-awareness.

V. Deep Monastic Spirituality of the Desert. The radical call to a contemplative life where we seek God above all else, leaving both the world and the worldliness of the Western church, has served to keep us centered on Jesus Christ as our goal and life-source.

The following 5 markers are my first draft for what it means for our people at NLF to be on a discipleship path around our MULTIRACIAL value:

–  Learning about the history of race/women in America.

–  Biblical understanding of the new family of Jesus.

–  Self Awareness of Your Journey and Culture.

–  Intentional Friendships Across Race, Culture, and Social Class.

–  Remaining a Life-Long Learner and Listener.

What might you add to a list like this one?


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