Preaching While White

It’s Roundtable Week – the week I meet with my longtime clergywomen’s preaching group to share what’s going on with our lives and our churches. The theme this year involves anti-racism training (and how to preach about it.)  The brilliant Jessica Vasquez Torres will be sharing her wisdom, thanks be to God.  And then I’ll finish the week attending the White Privilege Conference in Kansas City with TBC.  Wish you could be here too.

We who self-identify as Biblical preachers have the power to be prophets, poets, proclaimers, entertainers, teachers, and speechers.  I believe it’s our calling to be equal opportunity offenders in terms of Speaking the Truth in Love to Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Independents, and every brand of Jesus Followers including those who don’t really consider themselves to be Jesus Followers.  When I preach, it’s my prayer that:

  1. I don’t waste people’s time.  They made the effort to show up.  The least I can do it proclaim something that points to God.
  2. I stretch people a bit.  If I say nothing that discomfits them a little, I’ve missed an opportunity.
  3. I comfort people a bit.  If I say nothing that brings even a hint of relief, I’ve missed an opportunity.
  4. I say something that pleases God.
  5. I am not boring.

Holy Scripture is pithy and pointed and funny and disturbing.  Preachers get to speak to all of it.

As a person who considers myself white and therefore in the dominant culture, I also have a duty to use the opportunity to point out injustice.  And sometimes that injustice is connected to race.

Maybe those in the pews are white or maybe they include People of Color. But if I fail to note that my pale skin automatically grants me privilege in this world and that I am spending my life trying to follow a brown man whom I believe is the Messiah, I’m failing God’s people.  And if I fail to connect the dots between what Jesus said to 1st Century People with what Jesus is saying to 21st Century People, I am missing the point.

My daily work includes recognizing my personal cluelessness about my own privilege and using my privilege for good as often as possible.  This includes the blessing (and curse?) of Preaching While White.  I have a responsibilitity to understand my power and my limitations.

And how are you dealing with preaching in the skin God gave you?  Do you find you are aware of how your words are impacted by the color of your skin?  I would love your thoughts on this.  Thanks.

Image sources are here and here

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One response to “Preaching While White

  1. Pingback: A Word to the White Preacher | Steve Thomason

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