NASHVILLE, TN: On March 26-27, The Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission (ERLC) of the Southern Baptist Convention held their annual Leadership Summit. The entire two day event focused on equipping the Church to lead the charge on Racial Reconciliation in America.
I personally had the privilege of serving the ERLC and being in attendance at this event. Before the opening message from the ERLC's President, Dr. Russell Moore, you could sense a feeling of unease as attendees weren't quite sure what was to come. Those feeling were soon to change into a hope for a brighter and more united future. One of the most encouraging things I noticed was diversity within the crowd. There was an estimated 550+ in attendance, and looking out into the crowd you caught a glimpse of what the Church should look like on a Sunday morning.
Before the close of the Friday evening session, the ERLC invited Trip Lee to challenge the attendees, and more importantly, Millennials to "Rise" to the occasion and embrace Racial Reconciliation.
Trip expressed the power music has to bring people of all colors, ages and backgrounds together, all in the same room. He further explains how many have shared their surprise and awe at the level diversity they've seen at his concerts and he comments "Let me say that's really a cool and wonderful thing but I don't think it's AS impressive as some think it is". Adding, "Everyday, all over the world there are concerts like that.... honestly, there's nothing very unique about getting different kinds of people together... They are brought together and united by their love of that music... But those people there, they don't really have to be unified, they just have to tolerate each other for one night. So while that's a really cool thing brothers and sisters, that is NOT the kind of unity that we're aiming for... The kind of unity we're after is more substantial and lasting than one night... The kind of unity we're after can only be produced by the glorious Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ!"
Then, to drive his point home he says: "The end goal is NOT to just get black and white people in the same building, Jay-Z can do that!".
Trip reminded the audience that racial tension is not our grandparents problem, noting that while things have drastically changed, Millennials think that we're in a post-racial society but "sadly, a lot of studies have shown that while Millennials give more lip-service to equality, they're still basically just as prejudice as their parents were."
In the call for Racial Reconciliation, he points out that this generation thinks "It's enough for me to share good things on social media, saying 'Oh, that's good, retweet!... I did my part'." And then he implores the audience to realize reconciliation is going to take so much more, by saying "We have to take action beyond that [social media], it would be a shame if we thought 'Man, we got together and talked about Racial Reconciliation... check that off!' This would be a colossal waste of time if this didn't change our lives when we got back home... It's not enough to listen or to retweet what scriptures call us to do".
He later breaks down three solutions he feels necessary to combat these racial issues. But before doing so he says, "If there's one thing you remember from this, remember that only the Gospel produces the kind of unity we're after".
I encourage you to watch Trip's address at the ERLC's Leadership Summit. You'll hear a man after God's heart and vision for the Church. A man who's personally experienced racism in America but one who's motivation is not out of anger but rather love. He strives to find the answers, the Gospel truth and to become the Church and society that we are called to be.