A couple of weeks ago, I had the privilege of hosting a Zoom call with a group of 21 pastors. We had as our guest, Mark Jobe. Mark is the lead pastor at New Life Chicago and he is the President of Moody Bible Institute.
It was a joy to connect with him, as we both walked the hallowed “tunnels” of good ol’ MBI, back in the 80’s.
Mark shared some helpful wisdom with pastors who are trying to help people engage and do ministry in this season of unrest, especially as it relates to the racial tension that is evident in many of our communities. He gave us 8 things NOT TO DO! And I’ve added the explanatory comments.
#1 Don’t be quick to judge people’s experience.
It’s easy to minimize, excuse, or explain. These responses devalue the experience and perspective of the one sharing.
#2 Don’t dismiss peaceful protests because of the riots.
Often, it’s the bad actors that hinder the voice of those with legitimate fears and concerns. When we say, “George Floyd died a horrible death, but the looting is inexcusable.” We’ve just minimized one in light of the other.
#3 Don’t absolve myself of the problem.
When discussions of “systemic” racism are bandied about, it’s easy to think it’s all over there. This is a time when each of us should look into our own hearts and see where we stand. How have our words and behaviors diminished the value of another human being because they were different from us?
#4 Don’t watch, but do something.
This is the perfect time to find a place to serve, outside the walls of your church. Are there organizations that you could work with to serve an under-served community? Are there neighbors to reach out to? Are there people around you that need a safe place to tell their story?
#6 Don’t just go back to normal.
Our temptation is to want to hold our breath until this is all over. That won’t heal the wounds. That won’t bring the changes we need. God takes us through tough times, so we can be something different on the other side.
#7 Don’t underestimate the power of the gospel.
The life and work of Christ and his Lordship over all things, changes everything. It transforms people and has life-changing impacts on communities. Center whatever you’re doing on Christ and his work. When we do that, we offer the world another way, another Kingdom.
#8 Don’t lose hope.
God is at work. His redemptive purposes will be accomplished. People will be reconciled through this hard season. God will change us too! In the end, by the power of His Spirit, we have the capacity to become more like Jesus himself.
I hope this spurs you on to good works. For pastors and people, keeping our focus on Christ, His Kingdom, and His desires for change will move us forward in loving our neighbor and our enemy.