Brothers and Sisters,
This past two weeks has been filled with lament and grief. We grieve the tragic deaths that took place before our eyes of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, along with the tragic murders of Dallas and Baton Rouge police officers. We grieve the deep division in our nation that surfaces week after week. We ache as we listen and watch a nation deeply divided spew words of hate and ignorance. And perhaps as church leaders, we are most grieved by the deep division and sin within the body of Christ that times like these reveal and sense the weight of the challenge to be faithful in the midst of such darkness.
Times like these often reveal our powerlessness as leaders. We see brokenness and desperately want to fix it. We want to act and act now. We gather to pray, we are learning to lament, we caution our congregations to be more wise on social media, and we are trying to become better listeners. Yet there seems to be a deep sense growing among many pastors that none of these things can be ends in and of themselves. I believe we are recognizing more and more how easy it is to act and speak in the height of the tragedy as a way to escape our sense that we are powerless and yet I also believe there is a collective sense among many of us that it is time to sit with the weight of what is going on and ask deeper questions.
Many of us have been wrestling with important questions on how to lead our congregations forward in the midst of our divided, fearful, and angry nation. This is not the first time in the last few years that we have walked through racial division with our congregations and we know it will not be the last. We know faithfulness as a church means pressing into the places of pain in our community and offering the radical love of Jesus in a way that challenges both systemic injustice and the individual idolatry that drives hate, racism, and division.
I have heard many leaders in the last week ask important questions, such as:
- What does it look like to be faithful pastors and leaders in the midst of a rapidly changing cultural climate?
- How do we move our people to engage in radical love of neighbor in ways that shine the beauty of Jesus into every corner of our city?
- What does it look like to foster hope, humility, and perseverance in the people we are leading as they engage in overwhelming justice issues?
- How would Jesus want us to walk alongside those who are spiritually deaf and blind in our congregations?
- How would Jesus draw near to and minister to those who are injured by the blindness and deafness of their brother and sister in Christ?
These are heavy questions. Questions of which there are no quick and simple answers to. These questions that are often asked in the peak of our grief and lament but can easily be pushed aside until the next challenge our community faces.
As a network of churches, we want to offer a few more formats in the next six months to continue to grow as leaders and keep the conversation going.
SEE BELOW FOR A FEW OPPORTUNITIES.
We pray and hope the church would be a part of meaningful action that puts Jesus on display in our cities most especially in places experiencing injustice, pain, and division. These are only formats for learning, but we are praying the Spirit would use these times to move us forward in "spurring one another on toward love and good deeds."
Praying for you and your churches,
Executive Director | Surge Network