Monday, October 16, 2006

How Far Will We Go to Integrate the Church?

This past Sunday, I had the great privilege of preaching Ephesians 2:11-22. I always love meditating on the mystery of the church, and God's eternal plan to make a people out of those who were no people, to "make one new man" our of Jew and Gentile. It was a humbling honor to unpack this passage for a little while on Sunday.

While I was continuing to meditate on the glories of the passage, I came across this story: Louisiana Black Church Will Pay Whites to Attend.

The Bishop Fred Caldwell of Greenwood Acres Full Gospel Church offered white people who attend his church $5/hr for attending Sunday services and $10/hr for Thursday services. One church member commented: "I don't see it as any different than a lot of the churches that have different social functions to attract visitors. Bishop just kind of cut to the chase and went to the money."

What?! This is a whole new level of racial reconciliation and integrated church services!

My wife's question was, "How does he know who the white people are?" Which seemed rather odd until I remembered that I'm in Grand Cayman and knowing this isn't always so obvious.

Now, the article is three years old. But it's still worth the read. I appreciate that pastor's ambition... I really do. But am I the only one who thinks this is too much? How many of you would attend a church with this offer? I think Mark Dever owes me for the hours and hours of services and sermons I've sat through. There's Sunday morning, Sunday night, service review after Sunday night, Wednesday night Bible study, Thursday morning theology breakfast (where there is NO breakfast!), and the occasional Henry Forum. In the immortal words of Ice T to Chris Rock in New Jack City, "You owe Pookie; you owe a lot of people."


Anonymous said...

Unbelievable! My question is can you still call it racial reconciliation if you are paying people to attend? By paying some people and not paying others aren’t you setting up your own hierarchy within the church? “You have to come for free, but I’m going to pay them because they are better than you and that is the only way I can convince them to come.” It seems a little counter productive.

Anonymous said...


My first reaction was where's the church and what do I get for membership ?

But seriously, I actually think the pastor who did this was taking what he saw as the easy way out.

I spend much of my time thinking about the subject of how God's people on earth can seek Him together in a local fellowship, and more personally, how I can go to a church which reflects my family and friends and city, which are white, black and asian (amongst others).

And to be honest, I've pretty well come down on having to start afresh and God willing one day my wife and I will have the opportunity to do this.

But in the meantime ... what do we do ? it is hard, dispiriting work (and I'm talking about in - church) ... how do we encourage and challenge church leaders and congregations to reach out to all the ethnicities in their surrounding communities (not just those who look like them) and then welcome them ... and be aware of how their dominant culture / tradition may not always be right and to seek to include other cultures / languages etc in what is done (and I am not talking here about any compromise in doctrine).

This also means, in effect one sort of people who were very happy to join the church before, now may not come so readily and people who like how things always were may leave.

But if Eph 2 v 11 - 22, is how God sees the church and how he wants the church, is there any choice ... sadly, from what I have said obviously there is. But when we get home (with the Lord), and we take a look around...

Oh to see more local churches, where we can have a foretaste.