In the summer of 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, I witnessed several churches in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), my own denomination, post statements of their support of anti-racism, provide suggested reading lists of anti-racist books, and even preach sermons on the Christian work of anti-racism. Over the past year, I’ve also seen many of these good initial efforts fizzle out.
In light of this, I would like to offer my humble proposal for all PCA churches who want to put the rubber to the road regarding the anti-racism they claim to support. I believe that these proposals will help embed Christian anti-racism into the DNA of a church, develop a posture of being proactive rather than reactive to addressing racial injustice, and create a culture of clarity about what the church believes about racism.
- Implement anti-racism training for all current and future leaders of the church (ordained and lay leaders).
- Implement assessments with clear, measurable metrics regarding congregants’ understandings of racial inequities, racial justice, and their personal motivation to incorporate it as a part of their spiritual formation and discipleship.
- Implement training/coaching/mentorship in interpersonal, small group/community group, and whole church settings (e.g. teaching sessions) in racial justice for accountability and growth in this area.
- Implement clear written policies regarding the actions that will be taken in the event of racist incidents within the church, including but not limited to: social media content of leaders.
- Incorporate corporate confession, repentance, and lament of racial injustices in the liturgy of the church.
- Hire external third-party consultants to provide honest assessments of the culture of the church and its leadership and areas of needed growth.
- Broaden the “theological library” of the church in terms of the people quoted in sermons, books used for small groups, books recommended to new Christians, etc.
- Make verbally clear that unrepentant racism is liable to church discipline.
- Develop a fund to help empower historically disadvantaged communities locally and stress the beauty and privilege of reparation.
- Create as many opportunities as possible to sit under Christians of color, including pulpit swaps, fellowship with other churches, etc.