Injustice Never Gets the Last Word

Cincinnati’s Racial Wound On July 19th, an old Cincinnati wound that has been slowing healing for the past 14 years was reopened when white University of Cincinnati campus police officer Ray Tensing shot and killed African American Samuel Dubose. Mr. Dubose was pulled over for not having OH state tags on the front of his car. Major news outlets from around the world have been covering this story (Cincinnati.com, MSNBC, BBC, Foxnews). Before the grand jury’s indictment was announced, the mood around town was tense. University classes were cancelled. Police were on high alert. Personally, this all hit home because the shooting occurred in my home neighborhood, Mt. Auburn. The church I planted 5 years ago is home to dozens of UC students who walk to church each week. On July 19th, while I was preaching a sermon about how Christians can faithfully navigate America’s cultural decline, Samuel Dubose was being shot…

Continue Reading

The Four Types of Poverty

When Helping Hurts: How to Alleviate Poverty Without Hurting the Poor and Yourself is a new book by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert that argues that there are four primary relationships that have been broken by the fall: our relationship with God, our relationship with ourselves, our relationship with others, and our relationship with the rest of creation. Another way to look at this is that these are four different types of poverty. All four of these types of poverty are part of the effects of the fall, and in Christ all four of these types of poverty are being reconciled back to their original place in the created order. Poverty of Spiritual Intimacy. This is the most profoundly and utterly devastating effect of the fall, because it severs us from God himself. Human beings are now profoundly estranged from the very source of all life. Conservative, evangelical Christians are…

Continue Reading

Hip Hop + Basketball = Urban Ministry

Great post on Baptisttwentyone.com about using hip hop and basketball as a means of reaching people. The idea: When we took that drive back in the summer and observed this sub-culture we recognized immediately two predominant things that interested them: basketball and hip hop music. We knew that we had the facilities and guys who could connect with these young men through basketball. We said, “This is out there but what might really be cool is a hip hop service of some kind with open gym afterwards…” The young men: They were 19-29 year old young men who play basketball nearly every single day, wear baggy clothes strategically placed to show off inked skin, work (or don’t work) part time to support various addictions, go from relationship to relationship sometimes producing children, and are heavily influenced regardless of race by hip hop music. These men, we recognized, may be directionless…

Continue Reading

7 Elements of a Multi-Ethnic Church

George Yancey writes in One Body One Spirit that there are seven characteristics of multi-ethnic churches that are worth noting. Some of these were surprising. 1. Inclusive Worship. Music is so important to people that when they sing to God it needs to take on a form that is culturally meaningful for them. In the Euro-white culture, we have everything from Indie-Rock, to pipe organs, to Coldplay, to acoustic folk in our churches. But others prefer a keyboard and rhythm section driven sound. I suppose in India people would want a Sitar with Ravi Shankar sound. The point is that the musical style of the church must reflect the diversity of the people that come there. 2. Diverse Leadership. Yancey writes, “multiracial leadership is important because members of different racial groups desire to feel represented by the members of the church, especially racial minorities who historically have received a lack…

Continue Reading

Is Racial Reconciliation Dead?

No, racial reconciliation isn’t dead, but perhaps Christians need to talk about the topic differently. God has put in my heart a dream of a multi-racial church in the heart of downtown Cincinnati. In that previous sentence, there’s about three things that people have told me are foolish ideas. I have been told that (1) Cincinnati is “rough soil” for church planting, and (2) downtown Cincinnati is especially difficult, but to be (3) multi-racial is just plain out of the question. I believe that God can and will do it, however. And right now, God has answered my prayers of raising up a core group of Christian leaders who want to see the same thing happen downtown in Cincinnati. But I have been beating my head against a wall trying to figure out how to make our group more ethnically diverse. Yesterday, I met Alvin Sanders, the Chief Diversity Officer…

Continue Reading

Why I’m Planting a Racially Diverse Church in Cincinnati (reason #4)

The fourth reason to plant a racially reconciled church in downtown Cincinnati is this: racial reconciliation forces us to have a missionary mindset. One of the most important things for aspiring missionaries to learn in preparation for the mission field is how to best communicate with people who are different from them. This is called contextualization. Basically, the patterns of communication that work for me in my context may not work so well in someone else’s context. For example, I have spent two summers in Argentina leading short term mission projects. I had to speak to people who didn’t know English primarily and had different culture and customs. It was perfectly acceptable for men to kiss each other on the cheek. In fact, to not greet someone with a “beso” would have been perceived as an insult. But they also had different customs in terms of food, time, family, and…

Continue Reading