RIVERSIDE BLOG

Post Author: Tim Chilvers

Tim Chilvers is the Senior Pastor at Riverside Church.
October 11, 2021
Time4Change | The church and Race

TITLE: Time4Change | The Church and Race
BY: Tim Chilvers, Olivia Anwana & Karamat Iqbal
DATE: 17 Oct 2021

EXCERPT:
Christianity is the most diverse movement on the planet. And yet, it can sometimes seem mono-cultural. We need to acknowledge the wrongs of the past, the very real injustices of the present and take hold of the opportunity of the future.

SUMMARY TEACHING POINT:
We live in a diverse society, and yet there are very real inequalities and racial division. As God’s people we are called to be communities of people, from ‘every tribe and tongue’. We need to model being a community of sisters of brothers from every background.

BIBLE OUTLINE
Acts 2:5-12 & Revelation 7:9-10

CHILDRENS & YOUTH RESOURCES:
These resources will be used within the various groups in-person on a Sunday morning. This means that if you are unable to attend one of our Sunday Gatherings, you can still study and follow along with the same material at a time that is best for you. However you study, we encourage you to engage with your group as much as possible. If you would like to know about how you can get connected with our children’s or youth groups please contact us, we would love to hear from you.

SESSION 4: CHILDREN’S RESOURCES:

Download Script

SESSION 4: YOUTH RESOURCES:

Download Script

Study RESOURCES & Questions


ARTICLES:

(Timothy Keller) – includes a sketch of how the biblical story actively speaks strongly about race and unity. 

Why white churches are hard for Black people by Isaac Adams

Diversity at the Dinner Table by Trillia Newbell

BOOKS:

Barton, M. 2005. Rejection, resistance and resurrection– racism in the Church of England during the early arrival of Black Christians. Darton Longman Todd. 

Bloomfield J. 2019. Our City. Unbound.

Eddo-Lodge, R. 2017. Why I’m no longer talking to White people about Race.

Fryer, P. 1984. Staying Power – the history of Black people in Britain. Pluto. 

Gittins, A. 2015. Living mission interculturally. Liturgical Press. 

Hussain, K. 2012. Against the Grain – a Muslim’s journey to Christ. Xlibris. 

Iqbal, K. 2013. Dear Birmingham – exclusion of Pakistanis from opportunities. Xlibris. 

Iqbal, K. A biography of the word ‘Paki’: Racist incident in the workplace – https://www.amazon.co.uk/biography-word-Paki-incident-workplace-ebook/dp/B076HR5LRZ/ref=sr_1_4?dchild=1&qid=1634324929&refinements=p_27%3AKaramat+Iqbal&s=books&sr=1-4

Iqbal, K. Performing Race – a fulltime job

Kandola, B. 2018. Racism at work. PearnKandola. 

Lindsay, B. 2019. We need to talk about race – Black experience in White majority churches. 

Newbell, T. 2014. United: Captured by God’s vision for diversity.

Smith, Andrew. 2018. Vibrant Christianity in multifaith Britain. 

Swamy, M. 2018. Reconciliation; the Archbishop of Canterbury’s  Lent book 2019. SPCK

Visram, R. 2002. Asians in Britain – 400 years of history. Pluto Press. 

FREE DOWNLOADS:

Module on race from the Methodist Church – https://www.methodist.org.uk/media/9017/edi-toolkit-6-final.pdf

Tearfund’s response to racial injustice and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. https://www.tearfund.org/-/media/files/main-site/about-us/blm-guide.pdf

Church of England – From Lament to Action: Archbishops’ Anti-Racism Taskforce  – https://www.churchofengland.org/sites/default/files/2021-04/FromLamentToAction-report.pdf

BBC programme on racism in the Church – https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m000vc34/panorama-is-the-church-racist

Here is a set of talks on race. All worth listening to though some are inaccessible in their language. Karamat Iqbal’s talk is from 90 mins onwards.
https://social-performance.academy/performing-race-at-central-2/


QUESTIONS:

There are three different sets of questions for you to use, whether you are holding ‘Church at Home’, exploring God’s word within your Life Group, in other group settings, or simply using them on your own.

A. DISCUSSION STARTERS

These are simple questions to provoke discussion together out of the talk (ideal if you are watching our Sunday Service online with others in your group):

  1. What aspects of the talk particularly connected with you, or impacted you? Why was that?

  2. Was there anything in the talk that you disagreed with, found difficult or didn’t understand? What do you think was trying to be said?

  3. Out of the talk, is there anything that you particularly want to change or do differently as a result?

B. QUESTIONS TO EXPLORE

These are questions that are based on the talk and the surrounding themes:

  1. Birmingham is described as a ‘super diverse’ city with so many nationalities and racial backgrounds. What do you love most about the diversity of Birmingham?

  2. Read Acts 2:5-12. What do you notice about the reach of Pentecost? What might that have to tell us about how God sees the different cultures and racial backgrounds?

  3. In verse 11 they are overjoyed that “…we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” What do you think it might mean to make sure that we don’t just ‘declare the wonders of God’ in only a mono-cultural way?

  4. Read Revelation 7:9-10. How does it make you feel to think about the scale and scope of the diversity of God’s people around the throne? What impact does it have on the way you treat others today?

  5. The author Ben Lindsay writes, ‘It is important for white-led and white majority churches to understand the misperceptions, stereotypes, hidden trauma, hurt, struggles and collective pain that some black people are dealing with. The UK has never been a level playing field for black people and if the UK Church becomes conscious of this fact, then we can begin to contextualize our churches so that they can set about meeting the real needs of our communities.’ (‘We Need To Talk About Race’, by Ben Lindsay). What night this look like in practice?

  6. It is noticeable in Revelation 7:9-10 that the gospel both ‘equalises’ all people and ‘unites’ all people. What a picture! What can you do to help achieve that?

  7. Take some time to pray. Confess any sin in this area – either of things you have done or things you haven’t done. Ask that God would help you listen, the lament and then to lead in modelling a different kind of community. 

C. GOING DEEPER

These are questions to help you go a little deeper, by exploring the wider biblical context. 

  1. How important do you think the themes of unity and diversity are in the Bible?

  2. Read Genesis 1:1-3 and John 1:1-3. Notice that God is one, and exists in three persons – this is known as the ‘Trinity’. In other words, even in God there is unity and diversity. Read Ephesians 4:1-6. What do you notice about the reasons that Paul gives for unity in these verses? What might this have to say on the subject of race?

  3. Notice in Genesis 3:7-24 that one of the immediate consequences of ‘the fall’ is disunity, blame and friction.  What do you think people find it so hard to get along? Why do you think racism exists?

  4. Read Acts 2:5-12. Notice that the message was for all people and was understandable for all people. In verse 11 they are overjoyed that “…we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”” What do you think it might mean to make sure that we don’t just ‘declare the wonders of God’ in only a mono-cultural way?

  5. Read Revelation 7:9—11. This beautiful picture shows that the gospel both ‘equalises’ all people and ‘unites’ all people. What a picture! What can you do to help achieve that?

  6. Read Micah 6:8. What might this look like to live out today in terms of race and reconciliation?

  7. Take some time to pray. Confess any sin in this area – either of things you have done or things you haven’t done. Ask that God would help you listen, the lament and then to lead in modelling a different kind of community. 

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Riverside is a church made up of people from a diversity of backgrounds and experiences all with one thing in common, our discovery of God and his amazing love. 

We are on a journey together to ‘help people get to know Jesus and grow as his followers’. 

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