Written by Larry Anderson
Friday, 09 November 2012 00:00
In my homiletics class, I played a movie clip from “Blood Done Sign My Name.” The clip featured an actor playing the part of Benjamin Chavis preaching at a church following the racially motivated murder of Henry Marrow. Chavis challenges the congregation to address the injustice and inequality within their community. After the video, I then asked the question, “Does our missional hermeneutic address the prophetic homiletic necessary to invoke transformational change in our communities? And if it does, why is there such a disconnect between church and community?”
The overwhelming response of the students was “Yes”; they adamantly communicated that we cannot say we are continuing the mission of God but do or say nothing about biased hiring practices, inadequate educational systems, and a racially profiled judicial system, for starters. It was wonderful to see the in-depth knowledge possessed by students concerning the issues facing their communities, but it was equally disappointing to hear that not much is being done to address these issues.
So, the million dollar question is “How can we be aware of our call to respond to such issues, but remain silent?” Fear of the revocation of tax exempt status by the IRS was cited, which prohibits tax-exempt organizations, such as churches, from endorsing political leaders, thus removing the political agenda from the pulpit. In addition, it was stated the simple business of ‘managing church’ is so consuming, what goes on outside the doors just seems too overwhelming to handle. My response to the class, and you as readers: “Are we actually being the church if we do nothing about these issues? Are the only things that really count how many people are being saved, how many baptisms we perform, and how many people are showing up on Sunday? Does anyone find it interesting that Jesus met with 12 but sent out 72? If we are the most trusted representatives on this earth to speak truth and give a biblical response to our churches, how can we not address homosexuality, greed, hypocrisy, politics, racism, classism, sexism, and every other “ism” our communities face on a daily basis?
Larry L. Anderson Jr. is Assistant Professor of Practical Theology and the Director of the Urban Programs at Biblical. He is also the pastor of Great Commission Church, previously located in the suburb of Roslyn, PA, but now situated in the West Oak Lane community of Philadelphia to provide a holistic ministry to an urban setting.