Am I too White?

I don’t know a lot about River Pointe Church in Houston. This video was embedded in this interesting article on River Pointe and its efforts to embrace racial diversity.

I’m going to make a few comments on the video, so WATCH IT NOW!!!

The question “Am I too white to be your pastor?” seems like a fair one to ask. That one question addresses several underlying issues. “Do you think a white guy like me can speak into your cultural world?”, “Do you think God can speak to you through me in a relevant way or am I too different?”, “How important is it for your worship to reflect your culture?”, “Can the Spirit of God operate cross-culturally?”

In sharing this question I don’t want to disparage any minority that might answer “Yes”. There are times when I convince myself that I’m too white to pastor in a multiracial church.

I found it interesting that many of the people surveyed in the video who answered “No”, still attended mono-racial churches. I suspect that for many people the thought of church as anything but mono-racial has never crossed their mind.

From watching the video and reading the original article I get the sense that this church actively pursues cultural competence.  They’re asking awkward questions and hosting difficult conversations. Theydon’t pretend racial diversity is an insignificant accident. This quote from lead pastor, Patrick Kelley, demonstrates the attitude necessary to make a church like this survive.

“The key has been humbly becoming a learner,” says Patrick, who adds that he had to overcome racist attitudes he picked up from his parents. “I went in as ignorant as could be. And more than once, I’ve gone to our church and said, ‘I want to ask your forgiveness. But if you’ll give me a lot of grace, we’ll go together trying to reach our community for Christ.’ ”

I liked how in the video Reggie Slater made the point that worshiping with people unfamiliar with us requires us making an effort. It’s easier to stick with what’s familiar, and many people choose easy. But easy is seldom best. If it was easy we’d have solved this problem a long time ago and moved on to the next topic.

I also liked how Reggie turned the initial question around, “Am I too black for your church?”. As a minister I can ask all day whether or not I’m too white to be your pastor, but if my church believes the individual is too black, too Latino, or too Asian to fit in, then I’ve asking the wrong people the wrong questions.

Lastly, let me point out from the article that River Pointe didn’t set out to be a multiracial church. It simply set out to serve it’s community with a willingness to become multiracial as a reflection of that community. Kelley comments, “It’s not a goal of River Pointe to be diverse, but to help all people groups find a meaningful relationship with Jesus Christ. We have to figure out how to be all things to all men in order to win some.”

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