Jesus and Our Brain Compete for Racial Reconciliation

Multi Cultural Bible StudySunday, October 15, 2017

Today I attended a presentation and dialogue on changing the way the Church views racism. With me were six people representing various member congregations of the Columbia Metro Baptist Association.

It was sponsored by the Fellowship of South Carolina Bishops. Guest speaker was Drew Hart of Messiah College in Pennsylvania, and author of Trouble I’ve Seen: Changing the Way the Church View Racism.

In the dialogue around our table, one team member suggested there is competition between Jesus and our brain. Here is my spin on what she meant.

Our relationship with Jesus is one of unconditional love. Through such a relationship external racial reconciliation is possible. It involves our awareness of racism in our words and actions, repentance of racism in our lives and the systems of society we enable, and forgiveness for our sin of racism. This awareness may ultimately lead to actions to rid society of unjust laws and systems, racist cultural practices, and racial privilege.

The challenge is our brain. Among things that may be missing in the Jesus-focused actions of racial reconciliation is forgetting. Reconciliation is about repentance, forgiveness, and forgetting. Forgetting is the harder of the three to achieve.

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Intentional Interim Pastoral Ministry is an Art More than a Science, Post One

Tom HarrrisSaturday, October 14, 2017

This week I had the opportunity to speak to the leadership, and some invited guests, of one of my favorite organizations that seeks to recruit, train, place, resource, and coach interim pastors for congregations.

It is Interim Pastor Ministries.

My relationship with the people of Interim Pastor Ministries goes back almost nine years when its current executive director—Tom Harris—was serving as interim pastor for a church in Atlanta, GA, and saw an invitation where I was leading a church consultation weekend where others were invited to observe a Friday night session. He signed up, attended, and we talked briefly.

I few years later Tom become the executive director for Interim Pastor Ministries. Three years ago, he saw another invitation where I invited people to shadow me through a four-day weekend experience with a church. He signed up, we had extensive conversations during that weekend, and since then we have been together a dozen times.

The most recent was this week in Myrtle Beach, SC.

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Not Necessarily FaithSoaring Churches Characteristics

Soaring-birdAnother set of characteristics exists which I call, ”Not Necessarily FaithSoaring Church Characteristics”.

(See article on FaithSoaring Churches Characteristics that preceded this article.)

They more clearly define who can be considered a FaithSoaring Church.

Already you may be typecasting or stereotyping who these congregations may be.

You are probably wrong at some points and right at others. Keep reading to discover the five "not neceesarily FaithSoaring Churches" characteristics.

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FaithSoaring Churches Characteristics

Soaring-birdWhat are the key characteristics of FaithSoaring Churches? Probably there is no perfect set of characteristics. Yet certain key characteristics emerge from my observation of multiple FaithSoaring Churches. No two congregations will have the exact same set of characteristics or formula. Each congregation is unique. Will FaithSoaring Churches have all the characteristics presented here? Not necessarily.

Here is one set of top ten characteristics of FaithSoaring Churches. Certainly other sets and types of characteristics could be put forth. Consider how many of these are characteristic of your congregation as you review them.

  1. FaithSoaring Churches walk by faith rather than by sight in the spirit of 2 Corinthians 5:7 and Isaiah 40:31. Second Corinthians 5:7 admonishes us to walk by faith rather than by sight. Isaiah 40:31 challenges us to mount up with wings as eagles and soar. Thus, FaithSoaring. One aspect of walking by faith is viewing the congregation in terms of its long-term potential rather than its short-term urgencies. Another is always imagining what is around the corner, over the next hill, or beyond the horizon.

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More Examples of FaithSoaring Churches


Download FSCLC Journal More Examples of FaithSoaring Churches 09.14.17

Lake Avenue

This “Urban Gospel” congregation composed primarily of African-Americans is pursuing a journey that may well lead to Lake Avenue becoming a FaithSoaring Church. It was not founded as an African-American congregation. It was founded by Anglo-American families in the mid-1950s in the suburban area of a large city.

Towards the end of its first generation of life its context began to change when a historically black state university built a satellite campus across the street from the church facilities. With significant state and federal government funding, this satellite campus began to expand and rapidly increase in student enrollment.

For several years, Lake Avenue sought to continue the same ministries characteristic of its early years. Ultimately it began a collegiate ministry focused on both the residential and commuting students at the university. They employed two student interns each year to lead the collegiate ministry, but with only limited success.

A hinge point was reached when their pastor of 28 years retired. During the interim the congregation made the decision to pursue an African-American as their next pastor. The result of this pursuit was that they hit the proverbial jackpot. They secured an interracial clergy couple as their next pastoral team. The wife, Joy Goodson, is Anglo-American and the husband, Raymond Goodson, is African-American. While they alternate teaching responsibilities, Raymond is the worship leader each week.

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Crooked Run Baptist Church is a Smaller Membership Church with a Kingdom Sized Vision

Crooked Run Baptist Church 01

Feature Story News Release from the Columbia Metro Baptist Association at

Crooked Run Baptist Church, in Fairfield County, is involved with a nearby elementary school, is starting a Sunday evening service for young adults, and participates in both local and international missions.

It’s also a Fairfield County congregation that is 193 years old, averages 35-40 on Sunday mornings, and is mostly made up of members who are 60 years or older. It gives 11 percent through the Cooperative Program and supports the Columbia Metro Baptist Association with 4 percent giving.

Pastor Tommy Hutto has served Crooked Run since April 1, 2002, and was immediately impressed 15 years ago with the church’s thoughtfulness to its search process.

“Most of my pastorates had been short-term compared to this one of 15 years,” he said. “(Crooked Run) has been a great fit for me and that goes back to their initial search process. They asked me a lot of questions and were open to answering a lot of my questions. We thoroughly examined each other even down to their asking me to give my personal testimony of my salvation experience. I knew then that this church was focused on loving the Lord and loving others.”

Today, with its 105 members, the church is thriving in missions and ministries.

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Examples of FaithSoaring Churches


Download FSCLC Journal Examples of FaithSoaring Churches 09.12.17

Who are some FaithSoaring Churches? The reality is that they are probably less than 20 percent of the approximately 350,000 congregations in North America. The ideal configuration that produces the necessary synergy is elusive for many congregations—perhaps upwards to 80 percent of all congregations. Yet it is still the goal congregations ought to strive to achieve.

The three congregations briefly introduced in this article, and the four to follow in another article, are illustrative of a wide range of congregations seeking to be effective in their setting. Some are soaring with faith and some are not. You may not find in these seven a congregation that exactly fits the situation of your congregation. That is fine as that is not the goal for sharing these seven. From the base of these seven congregations, think through the situation and characteristics of your congregation. How would you describe your congregation?

Further, these are not complete stories. These are just an introduction to these congregations. Use your imagination. Seek to fill in the blanks or missing parts about these congregations. What is your guess about some of the additional details about these congregations? What would you like to know that would illuminate their story and help you to see the story of your congregation?

Summit Heights is a FaithSoaring Church. Christ the King is not. Nesmith, a smaller membership congregation, is a FaithSoaring Church. Lake Avenue is trying to be. We do not know yet if Downtown will be a FaithSoaring Church. Trinity once was a FaithSoaring Church, but not anymore. First is struggling to understand what FaithSoaring is all about.

Let’s look more deeply into the stories of these congregations to suggest how they may or may not fit into the pattern of FaithSoaring Churches.

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Who Are FaithSoaring Churches?


Download FSCLC Journal Who are FaithSoaring Churches 09.07.17

Faithful, Effective, and Innovative Congregations: For many years, I have described what I am now calling FaithSoaring Churches as faithful, effective, and innovative congregations. They are faithful to the core Gospel and the ethos of their denomination, affinity movement, or missional journey. They are effective in spiritual formation and missional engagement, and pursue excellence at every opportunity. They are innovative and ever changing in methodologies; always seeking new and relevant ways to tell the never changing true story of Jesus.

FaithSoaring Churches are the leading edge congregations in denominations or movements. According to a principle I learned from management guru and churchperson Peter Drucker, they are less than 20 percent of congregations. They must make progress for the other 80 or more percent of congregations, as a group, to make progress. Without the forward movement of FaithSoaring Churches there is no overall progress in the full collection of congregations.

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What is a FaithSoaring Church?


Download FSCLC Journal What is a FaithSoaring Church 09.05.17

FaithSoaring Churches are congregations who effectively soar with faith to achieve exceptional ministry.

FaithSoaring Churches are congregations who boldly and effectively soar with faith into a future known only by God where they have never gone before, and which they cannot see at the beginning of their journey.

In greater detail, FaithSoaring Churches are congregations who effectively soar with faith beyond ordinary ministry toward extraordinary ministry in a quest to achieve exceptional ministry. They respond to the pulling of God. They journey to places of inspiration, imagination, and innovation. They progress through processes of spiritual formation and missional engagement. They continually transform their capacity to reach their full kingdom potential.

They are willing to go to the end of all known light or revelation and leap into the darkness because they know God has gone before them. Leaps of faith and extraordinary commitments are commonplace for FaithSoaring Churches. They boldly journey into the future as God reveals the pathway of their journey.

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Choosing to Pivot: 10 Hinge Points for Congregations--An Introduction

Pivot 02

Download Choosing to Pivot 10 Hinge Points for Congregations 09.01.17

Pivot. Whirling around on one foot.

In basketball, a pivot is the action by the player with the ball that keeps one foot in place while holding the ball, and moving the other foot one step in any direction. A pivot from where the player was headed.

Or, a high post pivot where a player—usually the center—faces away from the offensive basket and serves as a pivot point for the offense by initiating one of a multiple choice of plays through passing the ball, making screens, or taking a shot to score a basket.

When should congregations pivot to go in a different direction in response to God's leadership? When did the mission of God for the early church bring about pivots?

Pivots in the Early Church

The Acts of the Apostles is full of stories and experiences where pivots took place in the fulfillment of the Great Commission.

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