Well, Church, times have changed before we could call a business meeting or change our bylaws as the protests around the deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain and countless others draw a dividing line between generations. Without a committee vote or a conversation with “the powers that be,” confederate moments are falling down. Businesses and government officials are getting the message as they pull their support from other companies and agendas now viewed as divisive to walk alongside protesters.
Wanting to be on the right side of history finally, the Mississippi state flag will no longer fly high above the city’s buildings. But what about the American flag in churches and sanctuaries. Caesar or Jesus is Lord? No longer viewed as the place with all the answers, younger generations are questioning the role of institutions. What is your building here for?
“Power to the people!” The votes are in. The signatures and protesting feet have it. Time’s up for race as Millennials and Generation Z push back on its supremacies, stereotypes and prejudices.
We don’t want its hand me down hatreds. They don’t fit as we make room for all of our friends— no matter where they are from or what language they speak. We don’t need diversity or sensitivity training—because inclusion is our norm. Consequently, we are not interested in this racialized narrative of us versus them.
And it is well past time for the Church in North America to review its own. Claiming that all human beings are made in the image of God, we still racialize ourselves and God, remake ourselves to fit into this hierarchy of pigmentations (also called a “pigmentocracy”). But it’s all coming down as even the socially colored white images of Jesus, who was a Galilean Jew, are being called into question. Blonde hair and blue eyes, really?
Service as usual is over. Regularly scheduled Sunday morning programming has been interrupted. If the Church has any chance of reclaiming the short attention span of Millennials or Generation Z, then it will need to find its prophetic voice and make a choice between a creation narrative that posits everyone as God’s children or continue with the polygenesis narratives of race, that claim that different cultures were created at different times by the Creator. One or the other, the Church cannot hold both positions.
Segregated hours and segregated churches, Jesus followers in America have been out of step with their leader for hundreds of years. It cannot claim to be the Body of Christ and be this far behind. Change who you identify with or catch up.