Thursday, February 11, 2010
Some talk, while others do!
Living in Los Angeles has increasingly made me aware of the conditions that people live in who are confined to the urban context. Not to mention the challenges that the churches face who serve these communities. I recently had the privilege of traveling to Austin, Texas with a friend of mine to a "Missional Community" conference. (He was Korean-American) It didn't take us long to realize that we would be a minority at this conference. I noticed a long line extending from the registration table, and there was not one minority in sight. As the conference began the presenters were passionate, knowledgeable, and there was a strong sense of God's anointing on them. No women were presenters at this conference and one presenter was a Chinese-American! So, needless to say there was very little diversity represented at this "missional" conference. After spending some time with the organizer of the conference late one night it was plain to see that this was not his intention and yet there was no diversity. Why not? Where are the other voices? Why haven't they been engaged in the dialogue? A pastor in our District (Los Angeles) pastors in Compton, CA. He pastors on the frontline of the urban context and serves his community faithfully. They weekly feed the homeless, provide clothes, and other services for the community. Not to mention his church has paid for far too many funerals of young African-Americans. It is very likely that his experiences would have enriched everyone, and given us a different view of the mission of Christ through his eyes. But would he have actually taken the time to travel to Austin, Tx to "engage in the dialogue" (catch phrase from the conference) about the missional church? He is living what others are talking about everyday!!! He is listening to his community, he is finding ways to incarnate the gospel in his community, and they are discipling men/women and sending that back into the war zone called "South Central LA". Could it be that the lack of diversity and inclusion at this conference has more to do with priorities and geography than discrimination? These conferences are often held in the suburbs, seemingly in another world. When you serve on the front-lines, how can you take time to have "dialogue" about what is seemingly obvious. Of course more needs to be done to bring other voices to the table but maybe we could move the table a little closer to those we desire to include. Part 2 of this dialogue will address the gender gap!