Last month, July 2016, the killing of 2 black men and 5 police sparked a national outcry.

This month our featured story at Harvest is you.  We want to feature the conversations you are having with your friends, neighbors, and co-workers in response to the recent tragedies in our world.  We want to feature the first baby steps we are taking as a conversation to move beyond our comfortable relationships.  We have been encouraged by the way we have taken some steps across racial lines to grow in understanding and empathy with one another.  While it is just the beginning, we want to celebrate this beginning in hopes that these conversations we have had together and throughout our body might spread beyond Harvest church into the relationships we have all over the city.

The elders and pastors of Harvest saw the need to address this national outcry and talk about how we can respond in a Gospel-centered way. Kennon taught on Ephesians 2:11-22 and spoke about "The Gospel and Injustice" then gave these practical application points of how we can respond:

1. Listen (across racial lines)
2. Empathize
3. Grieve with those who grieve
4. Love one another OUT LOUD
5. Stand together in the condemnation of injustice and the pursuit of justice
6. Exhort one another to hope in Christ
7. Pray together (We then prayed together in service for the following list)

Although the sermon was a great start, we didn't want it to end there. We met as a church body that next week to start the conversation on the Gospel and Injustice. Our desire was to have practical opportunities to begin talking and listening to one another after hearing panel discussions from the stage. 


Here is the video of the first panel, where they talked about what it means to listen, empathize and grieve. Below the video are the group discussion questions (the group discussions were not recorded).

 

  1. What was the most helpful or powerful thing you just heard and why?
  2. Were you able to empathize with someone on stage who shared from a different perspective than yours and how? Did you hear anything that changes or effects how you feel about the current events and tensions? 
  3. What do you think it would look like for us to grieve together? How could you personally be more active in listening, empathizing, and grieving across racial lines?

Here is the video of the second panel, where they talked about what it means to love out loud, stand together and exhort one another. Below the video are the group discussion questions (the group discussions were not recorded).

 

  1. What was the most helpful or powerful thing you just heard and why?
  2. After hearing from this panel, do you have any thoughts or ideas of how you could build relationships/friendships across racial lines to love others out loud for the sake of Christ, or stories of how you have done this?
  3. If there is an African-American at your table, please ask them to share how they have been encouraged by their white brothers and sisters in Christ through this, AN/OR how they may have been discouraged by their interactions (or lack of interactions) with white brothers and sisters?

 
"This summer I worked as a program director for MTR Camp. Part of my responsibility was to lead college students in a variety of ways. While listening to the timely sermon by Kennon, I felt the strong push to share it with my staff. I believe it captured a practical and gospel centered response that related to all that we had been learning. We broke into small groups after listening and had a much better dialogue when we spoke as siblings in Christ rather than co-workers" - Terry Lebedevs
I took a break [at work] today and intentionally sought out a black female nurse who is a friend of mine. I asked her, “In light of the violence in Dallas and around the country, how do you feel as a black woman and especially as a black mother raising two young black boys?” There was a pregnant pause and then she just poured out her heart to me. Not only that but another friend joined our conversation. She told me this... “Terry, I’ve never seen people as white or black. My parents didn’t raise me that way. But when the evil in Dallas happens you start seeing some color. You can’t help it; it’s human nature. But when you, a white woman, asks me how I feel about all of this...I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel. Everyone thinks they know what we feel. But until you’ve lived in my skin, you don’t know.” I literally started sharing about Jesus and His blood breaking down the wall that divides us and of His message being one of unity...I’ll never forget it.
— Terry Lebedevs
“This summer I worked as a program director for MTR Camp. Part of my responsibility was to lead college students in a variety of ways. While listening to the timely sermon by Kennon, I felt the strong push to share it with my staff. I believe it captured a practical and gospel centered response that related to all that we had been learning. We broke into small groups after listening and had a much better dialogue when we spoke as siblings in Christ rather than co-workers”
— Alexis Wade
“This summer I worked as a program director for MTR Camp. Part of my responsibility was to lead college students in a variety of ways. While listening to the timely sermon by Kennon, I felt the strong push to share it with my staff. I believe it captured a practical and gospel centered response that related to all that we had been learning. We broke into small groups after listening and had a much better dialogue when we spoke as siblings in Christ rather than co-workers” - Alexis Wade

We continue to pray that God would allow us to listen well to one another that we might further break down the dividing wall in our body and reflect the unifying love of Christ beyond our walls to our friends, family, and neighbors. Here are some more resources on the gospel and injustice: