If you’re new to this site, we’d love for you to take a few moments and scroll down to the previous two entries and give us your feedback. If you’ve already checked out our “Hard Questions” and looked at an example of Pastor Smith’s type of prophecy, then here’s something new to consider:
One of the best things about Living Word Church (for the record, “Living Word Church,” “Pastor Smith,” and for that matter, all the other names we use here, are PSEUDONYMS) was the fact that it was a very culturally diverse congregation.
(Note: In this essay, as in the rest of my life, I absolutely refuse to use the word “race” when talking about cultural, ethnic, or skin color differences, because the only “race” that really matters is the HUMAN race!)
I firmly believe that today’s average American-especially the average Christian-really wants our society to be, as Martin Luther King dreamed, a “color-blind society.” The sad thing, though, is that too often, your Sunday church service will be the most segregated place you’ll go all week long.
Think about it. Most of you probably work with people from different ethnic groups. Many of you even live in places where your neighbors might speak a different language than you or have a different skin color than yours.
But on Sunday, all of that seems to change. And I think that’s too bad.
Even now, as our family has become part of a new church where we’ve grown to love the sound doctrine and the dear people, it bugs me that when I take my kids to their Sunday school class, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a “person of color.”
That was one of the things that Pastor Smith and Living Word Church got right.
At Living Word, I loved the way our differences melted away as we worshipped the Lord together. I loved the fact that my “white-bread” 7-year-old’s best friends at church were girls from different cultural groups-and she didn’t even realize it. I loved how our own circle of friends was comprised of people from many different backgrounds, and our differences weren’t an obstacle to our fellowship. I loved that when the congregation gathered together, we were a vivid mosaic of colors making up the body of Christ, which is, after all, the way that heaven itself is going to be.
What we brought to the table culturally was secondary to the table itself. And I think that was highly pleasing to the Lord.
I also think, though-in fact, I don’t just “think,” I KNOW-that Pastor Smith was fully aware of the attractiveness of his church’s diversity. He’d often trumpet our diversity from the pulpit, lapsing into more careless grammar as he’d shout, “It don’t matter if you’re black, white, yellow, or purple. It only matters that we bless the Lord and worship Him in the beauty of His holiness.”
The congregation would cheer madly, and we’d embrace each other or give high-fives all around.
Pastor Smith was fully aware of the diversity, and I also think he liked to exploit it for his own purposes.
Because, in addition to the whole Amway connection, one of the other seemingly random things that made us stop and evaluate everything we’d experienced at Living Word Church was something that Pastor Smith happened to say in a meeting he had with my husband. During that meeting, Smith actually uttered the words, “You know, you do have to pastor blacks differently than you do whites.”
When my husband came home from that meeting, he was so bugged by that statement-and all of its implications-that he mentioned it to me, and we had a good discussion, trying to figure out what Pastor Smith actually meant by it.
You see, if Pastor Smith really DID employ different methods to “pastor” people of different ethnicities, then to us, it seemed to show that all of this cultural diversity and unity was manufactured. This harmony was engineered. And that involved manipulation.
Yet another thing that we loved about Living Word Church was actually less the product of the Holy Spirit and more about Pastor Smith and how he used people.
We really don’t want to be overly cynical. We really don’t want to think ill of Pastor Smith when there’s no reason to. But what on earth could he have meant by the statement that he needed to “pastor” whites differently than he “pastors” blacks? And if he’s being deliberately different in how he interacts with people of different cultures, then Living Word isn’t the “color-blind” place that Smith tries to say that it is.
Again-tell us what you think. Do you think that a real true minister of the Gospel should feel the need to treat people differently, based upon their ethnic background? Based upon their skin color? If so, why is that? Is that how the Apostles in the New Testament preached the Gospel? We don’t think so, but we’re wondering what others think…especially our brothers and sisters in Christ who aren’t white and who have more insight than we do on this subject.
So give us some feedback here.