You're not really talking about reconciliation until you're talking about money. - Larry Thiel
Does the message our Support Raising systems send match the truth of the Gospel?
Michael Brown. Eric Garner. Sandra Bland. Ferguson. New York. Charleston. The list goes on and on.
The Black community is asking our nation: “Do our lives matter?”. For the most part, the Evangelical church has been silent in response. Yes, we affirm with our lips that they matter, but we haven’t shown up en masse on the streets to demand justice when our brothers and sisters express feeling mistreated by society. We may condemn things from afar, but as a whole, we in the majority culture Evangelical Church have yet to mobilize in significant numbers.
The reality on the street is the weaknesses of the current Support Raising model disproportionately affect ministers in the Black and Latino communities. As a result, we need to ask ourselves hard questions. When the broader society has a history of treating Black and Brown lives as inferior, as less than White lives, how should the Church respond? When our Support Raising systems disproportionately affect the very same communities that are disadvantaged and discriminated by our broader society, we have some soul searching to do.
Could we have unintentionally been influenced at some very deep places by the culture we in which we live? Have we been okay with a system that speaks the same message to Black and Brown lives as our culture does?
When 74% of Black Staff ministry budgets are raised outside the Black Community, something is wrong. (see Samuel Perry article)
When our Support Raising systems disadvantage the same people groups our country has a long history of discriminating against, something is wrong.
When Black and Brown staff are blamed for their inability to make Support Raising system work for them, something is wrong.
We must listen to what our brothers and sisters of color have to say about our broken funding systems.
Addressing issues of funding, equity, and justice at the very heart of our ministries would speak volumes to our minority staff and to a watching world. Empowering them to lead us to new solutions would be a picture of Biblical justice as a community. We’ve been given the ministry of reconciliation. Let’s not miss our opportunity to proclaim with our ministry systems that #BlackLivesMatter.
Let’s join together to create mission funding structures that empower ethnic minorities. This is a fundamental calling for us in ministry, one we need not shrink back from now.
All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to Himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. - 2 Corinthians 5:18
Our ministries have been focused on reconciliation between God and man – the Great Commission. But along the way we’ve often forgotten to pursue reconciliation between humanity – the Great Commandment. As our society in America grapples with #BlackLivesMatter, how will our support raising systems respond?
It is time for us to wrestle with systemic injustice and the message that it communicates to our broader society. As we humbly listen to our fellow ethnic minority brothers and sisters share their stories, how does that change our perspective on the way our current systems disadvantage them?
What if we not only proclaimed the ministry of reconciliation with our mouths, but with our ministry systems as well? What if we followed Jesus’ words and made “the last first”?
What would it look like to respond like the church in Acts 6 to issues of reconciliation in our society? What if we allowed ourselves to be led by ethnic minorities to help solve the issues of systemic injustice in support raising?
What might God be calling you to as you respond to the question of whether or not #BlackLivesMatter in Support Raising?
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility…” Eph 2:14 NIV
Through His life, death, and resurrection Jesus became our peace. The racialized divisions of our world have been overcome in His body. Often however, for us in the Church as the body of Christ, we have yet to live out this reality. The dividing wall of hostility may be gone in Christ’s physical body, but not in us. The challenge for us as the Church is to live out the spiritual truth of the work that Christ has already accomplished.
“He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.” Ephesians 2:17
Jesus’ work of restoration was not only on behalf of those on the outside of the system, but for those on the inside as well. No matter how we have been affected by the current support raising paradigms, Christ preaches shalom to us.
There are very real walls of hostility that exist in our world. Many of these are present in the Church, whether we realize them or not. How might God be leading us to allow Him to tear down the walls that divide us and let Him rebuild us into a holy temple in Him? What in our current structures needs to be knocked down?
Can we as the Church come together and creatively seek new ways of funding mission that create shalom for all who participate? Can we tear down the dividing walls that we ourselves have erected and live out shalom in our communities as the Body of Christ?
How is God calling us to tear down the dividing walls of hostility present in our funding systems?
This is an excerpt from the resource, Funding Mission Biblically. Download it and process together with your team how you can develop a more robust theology of support raising.