Episode #38 – Leading Well in Racial/Ethnic Tension with Dr. James Hawkins
Last week the guys talked with Dr. James Hawkins about how to lead during times of racial tension. As Replanters/Pastors understanding the perspective of our African American congregants, community members and friends is imperative.
Q: As a white pastor with a predominately white congregation how do we lead well in this time of racial tension?
Dr. Hawkins: Some of the reason why we are where we are is because of past sin-we have to understand that. Today, the lines of segregation are still evident in many of our communities even after civil rights victories. In the church, we (Black and White Christians) have not done theology together and not dealt with our shared past trauma together. We’ve also not been equipped to handle this, in many ways we were set up for this moment-the question is now, what will we do with this moment? We have to equip and disciple each other to see these ethnic moments thru the lens of scripture. Here are some helpful questions:
How has my particular ethnic group read and understand scripture related to the kingdom of heaven?
Do I know what I don’t know? (where are my blindspots)
Q: How does a pastor lead a congregation that is reluctant to explore their own biases?
Dr. Hawkins: First, we have to acknowledge that exploring the unknown is scary-we have a natural reaction to avoid what we don’t know. We have to grow to understand the importance of seeking and seeing the kingdom of God over and above ourselves. As Pastors we need to validate our congregations reluctance and defensiveness-but we also have continue to lead toward the kingdom of God. Be patient with yourself and your congregation. Honor their fear but also ask them communicate their hopes.
Q: What is healing conversations?
Dr. Hawkins: It is a gathering of churches/people to intentionally jump into the deep end in dealing with the pain and problem of racial tension in the church. We facilitate conversations so people can find healing, help and hope and move forward.
Check out these helpful resources:
Watch the Healing Conversations video mentioned in the Podcast.
Listen to more from Dr. Hawkins on his podcast, A More Excellent Way.
Dr. Hawkins’ Book Recommendation: The Color of Compromise by Jemar Tisby