Let's Talk about Race: How Do We Frame Our Church Chats?

Jun 16, 2021 9:00:00 AM / by Michelle Townsend de Lopez

Siblings in Christ, it’s time for some Sacred Conversations together. Our context and the effects of the pandemic have exposed this necessity. Church leaders must faithfully address the issues associated with race and racism.

Church is the place to have an authentic conversation with our siblings. It can be uncomfortable and risky, so before you embark on this journey I have some questions for you to consider.

Deep, honest engagement shapes our relationships with each other, our worship experience, and how we show up in sacred and secular places.

3 Questions to Frame the Conversation

  1. How Do I Begin?
  • Begin in prayer with the understanding that having these conversations is hard work. It will challenge you as a leader to examine how you use vocabulary in your communication with others about Jesus and his people.
  • Historically, how have you talked about Jesus in his own context that would help the congregation understand your present context with such different realities for white people, BIPOC people, undocumented people, and others?
  • How do your ministry activities underscore that Jesus was a Jew who belonged to the Israelites?
  • How and when do you pay attention to the fact that God chose to express God’s self in a poor Jewish man?
  • How do the ministry activities you lead incorporate Jesus’ lived reality of poverty as a social reality he shared with the masses of dispossessed poor people then and today? (To contextualize it—Jesus was a colonized man living under the domination of the Roman Empire.)


  1. Why Does This Matter?
  • When you don’t address these factors, you don’t see how it is killing you softly and succinctly from the inside out.
  • Language and how you use it is often a litmus test for inclusion or exclusion.
  • A common vocabulary is essential in talking about issues of race to avoid misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Words often have different meanings to different people, based on their experiences.
  • Consider how you think and talk about people in generalities, stereotypes, dangerous narratives. What are the outcomes?


  1. How Does This Relate to Our Ministry?
  • The language you use affects how you teach the Bible, construct theology, and interact or don’t interact with others.
  • Examine how your biblical teachings, social statements, and faith beliefs are congruent with your congregation’s faith practices and everyday living.
  • Explore how not addressing these topics has created deep divisions and allowed for inequities and racial violence to spread.

Will you engage in deeper conversation while grounded in the Spirit, love, and truth? I hope you will. Be courageous enough to enter or continue the journey for the sake of the Beloved Community.

Topics: Adults Ministry, race, racism

Michelle Townsend de Lopez

Written by Michelle Townsend de Lopez

Rev. Michelle currently serves as the Lead Pastor at Cross Ev. Lutheran church in Milwaukee, WI. She is committed to the execution of the purpose and vision of the congregation grounded in the Holy Spirit and social justice issues at the intersections of race, class, gender and sexual orientation for our community. She is responsible for various areas of ministry such as administration, communication, worship & prayer, sacramental ministry, pastoral care, elders/caregivers, community outreach, ministry partners and evangelism for all ministries.


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