I was notified this week that I was quoted in the latest issue of Christianity Today. The following question was posed to a variety of pastors and church leaders: “Are Evangelicals Doing a Good Job at Racial Integration?” The entire list of quotes can be found here.
I have to admit that I often get nervous now whenever i hear i have been quoted. A couple of years ago it seemed exciting, but that was largely due to the fact that I had an idealized view on how these things worked. Someone asks me a question, I answer the question, and then that answer is posted just how I said it as well as in the context of how I said it.
Instead I had a series of experiences where I ended up cringing when I saw the actual quote in print. A couple of times I was misquoted, and that was extremely frustrating. A couple of times the quote was technically correct, but it was taken out of context from what I had intended to communicate. That is the hardest part to me about quotes. I can talk to someone for 90 minutes and have a wonderful conversation. I walk away from the conversation assuming I was clear about what I was communicating. But then I have no control which part of the conversation ends up in print, nor do I have any control over the spirit of that quote being clear. With such important and charged topics such as race, culture, justice, faith, and spirituality, this makes quotes kind of scary.
So that is my fear with being quoted, and this fear has led me to become far more cautious. I supposed at the end of the day increased caution is one of the great benefits that comes from all this. My prayer is that God will grant me a growing sense of wisdom and discernment as I try to contribute to some of the important conversations happening in our country in a way that it is not about me, that honors God, and that advances the cause…
I am a lifelong Chicagoan, a pastor at River City Community Church, and an author who writes a lot about resisting and confronting white supremacy from a faith lens.
Our church was founded in January of 2003 in the west Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, and is centered on the core values of worship, reconciliation, and neighborhood development. We long to see increased spiritual renewal as well as social and economic justice in the Humboldt Park neighborhood and entire city, demonstrating compassion and alleviating poverty as tangible expressions of the Kingdom of God. It is also through the gift of this faith community that I have learned to see the profound historical and spiritual impact of the stronghold of white supremacy, and where I have been challenged to broaden and deepen my understanding of discipleship in the hopes of becoming a serious enough Christ follower who is able to meaningfully participate with those who have risen up in defiance of this evil principality.
The lessons learned in this journey have been captured in a pair of books on race. The first, White Awake, explores the barriers that white people tend to face – white Christians specifically – when we attempt to awaken to and understand white supremacy through a faith lens. I spend a lot of time here addressing the internal defenses that are bound to go off when this journey is taken seriously, and I chart out a path for developing a resilient spirit that steadfastly moves towards truth, justice, and equity. The second, White Lies, further builds out the path for the white Christian who longs to actively participate in the resistance and confrontation of white supremacy. I spend a lot of time here exploring why it is so hard to tell the truth about race, as well as expose the lies that sustain it, within white, Christian, Bible-believing environments. I then propose nine practices that position us for engaging in this task.
On the personal front, my career started in the marketplace, as I was part of three dot.com startups in the 90’s. My vocational path shifted when I joined the staff of Willow Creek Community Church in 1998, and I spent five years working there. I started River City Community Church in January 2003 and have been happily serving here ever since. On the education front, my undergrad was in Business (Purdue University), my graduate degree in theology (Moody Bible Institute), and my doctoral degree in community development (Northern Seminary). On the family front, my wife is a Professor of Psychology, and we have two amazing children (Xander and Gabriella).
Leave a Reply