Conversations around race can be uncomfortable. We are worried we will unintentionally say the wrong thing, not be able to articulate our feelings well, or come off as insensitive. Our fear can sometimes paralyze us, keeping us from engaging in meaningful and helpful conversation. Let’s agree as a group, for the sake of healthy discussion and learning, that we will with-hold judgment and offer sweeping fields of grace as we engage this issue. Consider this a safe place to ask the questions you’ve always wanted to ask and seek clarity on things don’t understand.
Open with prayer that judgment would be withheld and grace offered throughout the conversation
LEADER NOTE: We are providing more questions than you will be able to get through. Choose the questions that will be most helpful to your community and move past the others.
- Describe the first half of 2020 using one word.
- Do you find it difficult and/or scary to enter into the conversation about diversity and racial issues? Is so, why or why not?
- What is your earliest memory of racial differences . . . or . . . Share a belief that was passed to you (either explicitly or implicitly) or that you have heard over the years with regards to another race that you since have found has no historical or factual merit?
- How does your faith contribute to your understanding or racial injustice?
- What is the imago dei and how does it contribute to the race discussion?
Leader Note: Imago Dei stands for “image of God.” From the very beginning (Genesis 1), God declared people made in the “image of God” and therefore, all people have inherent worth and value. We all share this quality.
- What is your response to this statement: “True unity is found first through being reconciled to God and then to each other?”
- In his conversation with Keith Patterson, Bret asked what discussions are going on within the black community right now. Keith said that from his vantage point, the black community . . . Is afraid that nothing is really going to happen—Is asking why the white community is now saying, “we’ve got to do something.” (after it has been happening for years)—Is afraid that white America will not really understand.
When you hear that, what do you think/feel?
- When you hear the term “white privilege,” what do you think? Is there a way to use “white privilege” to benefit others?
- What are some differences (and tensions) between the “Black Lives Matter” movement and those who express a preference or an emphasis on “all lives matter?”
Read Luke 5:17-23 –Imagine Jesus, speaking to a crowd of people that had been cast aside—those that were not a part of the “elite” and therefore were considered not as valuable as others. How can this message of Jesus to the broken help us better understand the idea of “Black Lives Matter” vs. “All Lives Matter?”
17 He went down with them and stood on a level place. A large crowd of his disciples was there and a great number of people from all over Judea, from Jerusalem, and from the coastal region around Tyre and Sidon, 18 who had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases. Those troubled by impure spirits were cured, 19 and the people all tried to touch him, because power was coming from him and healing them all.
20 Looking at his disciples, he said:
“Blessed are you who are poor,
for yours is the kingdom of God.
21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.
22 Blessed are you when people hate you,
when they exclude you and insult you
and reject your name as evil,
because of the Son of Man.
23 “Rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven. For that is how their ancestors treated the prophets.
GROUP EXERCISE: THE FACE-DRAWING TEST
This is not to embarrass, shame, or call any of us out. This is simply for self-awareness. Try to avoid the temptation to stretch the truth. You don’t have to share your results if you don’t want, you can simply share how the exercise made you feel.
The body of Christ is multicolored, made up of thousands of languages and experiences, multiracial, and interclass. However, our upbringing, family, friends, schools, and churches from which we develop our worldview are often not so diverse. Did your background expose you to the many textures of God’s human family? Start by drawing a circle. Then, draw one component of a human face for ever “yes” answer you get for the following questions (eye, eye, nose, mouth, ear, ear and hair). If you cannot draw a whole face, draw as far as you can, and be prepared to discuss the parts you COULD draw.
- At least one member of my immediate family (parents, siblings, brothers/sisters-in-law, grandparents) is from a racial/ethnic group other than my own.
- At least one family on my block (one out of about 10 homes) is of a racial/ethnic group different than my own.
- At least one of my close friends (you know their parents and/or you have programmed their phone numbers into your cellphone, etc.) is from a racial-ethnic group other than my own.
- The church I attend is racially diverse (at least 10 percent of the membership is of a racial group other than my own).
- The school I attend/attended is racially diverse (at least 10 percent of the student body is from a racial group or groups other than my own).
- Of my closest friends (i.e., the last people you want to see before you die), at least one is from a racial/ethnic group other than my own.
- I grew up in a home where I NEVER heard my parents or siblings say a negative word about groups of people by race or ethnicity.
- At least one of the friends with whom my parent(s) socialize and regularly invite to our home is from a racial/ethnic/language group other than their own.
- By Garlinda Burton
QUESTIONS FROM EXERCISE
- How did this exercise make you feel?
- Did your answers match up to how you perceived the diversity of your relationships?
- What things would you like to see change in your personal life concerning God’s Kingdom as it relates to racial harmony?
- What are some new things you are learning right now in the area of race and justice? As you are listening, what are you hearing?
- Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “it is appalling that the most segregated hour of Christian America is eleven o’clock on Sunday morning.” Others have simplified this to the simple statement, that “Sunday morning is the most segregated time of the week.” What is your response to these statements? Do you agree/disagree? What would have to change to make this statement false?
- What is your hope for the Church as it relates to race and ethnicity?
- What will you do this week because of what you just heard?
CLOSE IN PRAYER