We believe the first step in pursuing racial reconciliation is awareness through education. You can’t lament until you’re aware of the pain. You can’t repent until you’re aware of sin. You can’t be part of the solution unless you are aware of the problem.
The best way, initially, to become aware of the racial problem in our country is through education. Relationships will be an essential part of the process, too, but there is much self-work that you can do before asking others to teach you.
Below, we are offering key resources that we encourage everyone in our church to engage, followed by further resources that will be helpful for those wanting to learn more.
All of these resources come from Christians. There are many helpful books out there by unbelievers (and it’s great to read those, too), but we want to encourage followers of Jesus to approach this from a distinctly Christian perspective. While we must work with all people to oppose racism, we do so with a different foundation and a different framework (the kingdom of God). And as we seek to learn, may we not overlook the most important resource—the Bible. This is a time—more than ever—for Christians to study God’s word to understand God’s perspective on ethnicity and justice.
- Martin Luther King Jr., “Letter From a Birmingham Jail” (digital, audio, or print) – In 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. was imprisoned for peacefully protesting racial segregation. While in prison, Dr. King wrote this letter to “white moderates,” fellow clergymen who were accusing him of causing disunity. The letter is a plea for true Christian unity, inviting all to join in the work of racial reconciliation.
- Bryan Loritts, “The Gospel and Race” – In this sermon, preached at Reality LA in 2019, Bryan Loritts discusses how the good news of vertical reconciliation cannot be separated from horizontal reconciliation.
- Jeremy Treat, “Pursue Justice“ – In this chapter, taken from his book Seek First: How the Kingdom of God Changes Everything, Pastor Jeremy gives an overview of the biblical theme of justice, then applies it particularly to the evil of racism and God’s vision for a multiethnic church.
- Jemar Tisby, The Color of Compromise – The Color of Compromise is an account of the way the church has been complicit in racism in our country’s history. Although this is a difficult truth to swallow, the church must be able to acknowledge how it has contributed to the problem in order to be a part of the solution.
- Bryan Loritts, Insider Outsider – Bryan Loritts is an African-American pastor known for leading churches into biblical diversity. In this book, he shares his own story as black man learning to navigate the culture of the American church.
- Latasha Morrison, Be the Bridge – Latasha Morrison leads a ministry that trains people to be bridge builders in the church. In this book, she leads the readers through a process that begins with awareness then moves from lament to confession and forgiveness and ultimately culminates in restorative reconciliation.
- Eric Mason, Woke Church – Dr. Eric Mason is a pastor in Philadelphia. In this book, Dr. Mason charges the church to be aware, be redemptive, and be active in the pursuit of racial justice.
- Daniel Hill, White Awake – White Awake is specifically written for white people who want to learn how to engage conversations about race as part of a self-reflective journey. While most white people don’t think they have a culture of their own, Hill demonstrates not only that there is such a thing as white culture, but that it has been normalized in our broader culture.
- Bryan Stevenson, Just Mercy – Bryan Stevenson is the lawyer who founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. Just Mercy is a powerful, true story of redemption and a call to fix our system of criminal justice.
- Trillia Newbell, United – In United, Trillia Newbell shares God’s vision for unity amidst diversity from her perspective as an African-American woman.
- Timothy Keller, Generous Justice – Generous Justice is an excellent overview of what the Bible teaches about justice. It is especially helpful for understanding the relationships between the gospel and justice.
- Michael O. Emerson & Christian Smith, Divided by Faith – Divided by Faith is written from a sociological perspective, discussing how, while the church may desire to help combat racism, it can unwittingly perpetuate and exacerbate the problem.
- Martin Luther King Jr., Why We Can’t Wait – If you’ve never read Martin Luther King Jr., this is the place to start. It is a comprehensive overview of his approach toward seeking justice through love and nonviolence. “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” is included as a chapter in the book.
- Frederick Douglass, The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass – Frederick Douglass was an abolitionist and preacher in the nineteenth century who escaped slavery and spent his life striving for equality and justice. This book was the last of his three autobiographies.
- Phil Vischer, “Holy Post: Race in America”
- Jemar Tisby, “A Theology of Race”
- Jemar Tisby, Color of Compromise (series; Amazon Prime)
- Justice and Mercy (Isaiah 61:1-4) – Jeremy Treat; 06/02/20
- Nationalism and the Kingdom of God (Daniel 3:1-30) – Jeremy Treat; 02/02/20
- The Gospel and Race (Ephesians 2) – Bryan Loritts; 05/19/19
- Our Hope for Justice (Isaiah 42:1-9) – Adam Smith; 12/17/17
- The Gospel and Ethics (Galatians 2:11-14) – Jeremy Treat; 09/26/17
- Wisdom in Justice (Proverbs 11:1-10) – Jeremy Treat; 10/16/16
- In the Face of Tragedy (Matthew 5:9) – Jeremy Treat; 07/10/16
- The Multiethnic Church (Ephesians 2:11-18) – Jeremy Treat; 11/08/15
- Race and the Church – Jeremy Treat; 05/17/15
- Mission and Mercy (Luke 10:25-37) – Tim Chaddick; 04/26/09