United as One Body

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by Gena McCown, Founder WMC

For five years, we have been serving women in the Treasure Coast.  Pouring into leaders, connecting ministries from various churches, and introducing these ministry leaders to ministries that are serving our communities.  It has been an incredible blessing to us, sharing our 20+ years of ministry leadership experience.  It has been a blessing to leaders in our community, and we are beginning to see the longer reach as things set in motion come to fruition.

Recently, I was invited to a Church United Gathering in my city.  It was only the second meeting here, but a movement that has been in other cities a bit longer.  This gathering brings together Pastors and ministry leaders in our community… regardless of denomination… for the purpose of support and encouragement.  I participating in the pre-meeting prayer gathering, sat through the morning worship and message, then went to a break out group session for others who share a similar position in ministry as I do.  After the event concluded, my heart just felt so full.  To see the same call to unity and support on the church level that we’ve been working on a specific ministry level… I can’t even begin to explain how that makes me feel.

Years ago, the Lord put the call of unity on my heart.  Clearly, He has put it on the hearts of others.  Not only should we not forsake meeting with one another in church on Sunday mornings, but also we as leaders should not forsake meeting with one another.  We have not been called to serve in ministry alone.  Leaders pour into others, but leaders also need to be poured into.  I don’t know how many cities Church United has reached, but I am thankful for those who have begun this ministry… and thankful for the groups that will be meeting in the days, months, and years to come.

A cord of three strands is not easily broken.  What if 2 of the strands are not individual people, but churches… ministries… organizations?  What if a brother who is born for adversity, is the church down the street who answers the call of another in crisis?  What if our churches who are blessed financially provided an offering to our churches who are in need?  What if we shared our spaces?  What if we broke bread together?

What if we fulfilled the great commission as one CHURCH?

How do we start?  By opening our doors.

 

The Starting Point

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It can be hard to come to terms with a subject that is just completely outside of your scope of understanding.  To have someone think less of you for nothing more than the color of your skin, or your country of origin.  To be treated as less than, to have lower expectations on your ability, or marginalized by how you look before someone even takes the time to get to know you.

Something else that is also hard is a willingness to call out sin for what it is, especially when it a sin you don’t want to admit is still present.  Even more so when that sin is being committed by yourself or others you know, particularly when you know that they are a good person.  From tasteless jokes to out right discrimination, we must come to terms with the fact that racism still exists in our country.  Yes, there are areas in the country that are more progressive than others.  There are people who have fought for civil rights in the past, and those who are still doing so today, because they believe in equality for all people.

Yet, there are still places where racism exists in very blatant ways.  Many more where racism is far more subtle.  If we call racism what it is, SIN… then we know exactly what we are supposed to do with that sin.  Which is tackle it head on.  It can be far easier to justify someone’s sin, by pointing out a persons checkered past or giving a good person a pass for an inappropriate joke.  Jesus never gave sin a pass.  Nor should we.

As our eyes become more open to the wounds that have not healed, we feel conviction over our thoughts and words.  We make the effort to change ourselves, to influence those around us.  For others, and for any number of reasons, their eyes are still covered by scales.  They can not see the sin, and as leaders we have a responsibility to not allow sin to go unchecked.

What are some practical ways you can be apart of change in your life, Women’s Ministry, Church, and community?  To confront sin, we must identify it and then actively work against it.

  1.  Take the time to understand the feelings of others by choosing to be quiet and listen.  Ask people who come from other cultures and ethnicities to share their experiences with you, and do not interject your opinions.  Allow them to speak, listen to what is being said, and take time to reflect on that conversation before you respond with more questions.
  2. Read.  There are plenty of books on the subject of racism and also on racial reconciliation.  You can watch interviews online, panel discussions, and more.  Google “Race and the Church” or “Racial Reconciliation and the Church” and you’ll find a trove of useful information.  I recommend “UNITED” by Trillia Newbell.
  3. Challenge your Women’s Ministry team (or church leaders) to go through “The Bridge to Racial Unity” Bible Study as a team.   You can access this through the ministry Be The BridgeEnter this study with humbleness, willingness to listen, and as the leader of the ministry set the tone of respect.  If you do not have any women of color serving on your ministry team, considering inviting a few willing women to go through this study with your team.  Women who are willing to field your questions with grace and mercy.
  4. PRAY for your own life to become open to diversity, that the Lord will bring the women to add to your Women’s Ministry team, and convict the heart of your church leaders to create a space that is welcoming to all of God’s people (even when it means getting out of our comfort zones in how we worship) including bringing people of color onto staff positions.

Before the Conversation

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In the past, the Monday after our Women’s Ministry Council meeting, we will usually publish to the site a recap of the events.  This particular meeting was probably one of our hardest subjects to date, and a conversation we know that we are not done with.  Before we even attempt to put into words what happened at our Diversity and Unification meeting, I would like to thank those who contributed to the success of equipping women leaders on an important subject.

Thank you to Moody Publishers, who donated a copy of Trillia Newbell’s book UNITED:  Captured By God’s Vision for Diversity for each of the women in attendance.    We pray that each leader is able to use this resource not only for her own benefit but also to share with her team and church.

Thank you to International Missions Board, who donated their Limitless material and the Gospel in Henna Tattoo and Explanation Card sets.  To be diversified in the church requires a diversity in how we reach out to other cultures.

Thank you to MOPS International for the donation of these awesome tote bags, MOPS groups are a great way to open our church doors to the community at large and bring many different people to the table.

Thank you to Be the Bridge, who created the Bridge to Racial Unity Bible Study materials.  Also thank you to the donors from the community who provided the funds to print the study, allowing each woman to take home a physical copy.

Please pray with us that all of these materials will be a blessing to the churches in which they make their way back to.

Additionally we announced a few exciting pieces of news:

  • 2018 We will begin to roll out WMC groups in other cities!
  • 2018 the WMC will offer our first full day event for women leading in the church, LeadHer Conference.  The 2018 theme is: LeadHer with Wisdom

Please pray along with us over these next steps, as we remain faithful and obedient to do as God asks us in HIS timing not our own.

Over the next several articles, we will begin to break down the content from the training, point our readers to resources, and share the ways we are going to keep this conversation going.