A new conversation between Daniel Yang, Director of the Send Institute and Dhati Lewis, the President of Send Network with the North American Mission Board about “Repairing Disparities in American Church Planting” has proven to be very interesting, with Young donating much of the time to defending and making a case for reparations and why White Churches need to give reparations to Black Churches until Jesus returns.
We wrote about the Send Institute just recently, the openly egalitarian think-tank which partnership between the SBC’s North American Mission Board and the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, after their chief missiologist promoted new missions apologetic that minimized ‘doctrinal precision. (There’s much more to be said about this organization and the support that the Southern Baptist Conventions is giving it, off the backs of Cooperative program dollars, and it will be a topic of further investigation.)
Daniel Yang explains:
There’s a basic foundational principle in reparations that we can’t ignore. And it’s very theological too. Duke Kwon, Greg Thompson, they wrote a book giving a biblical rationale for reparations...I want to use the word ‘reparations’ because 1) It is provocative in the questions that people bring up are, ‘well, why would we want to contribute towards reparations if those who committed the wrongs were from 200-300 years ago?’
The second objection, typically is well, ‘reparations isn’t impractical, because when do you stop, when you stop, when you stop reparations?
How do we actually now begin to reinvest our strategies and our resources in a way that no longer creates harm? So case in point, let me say this. When we talk about church planting models, you know, I am not against launch large, I’m not against house churches. But if the bottom line is always ‘how do we plant financially sustainable churches that are sustainable in year three, four, and five?’ Which I think is a worthy goal. But if that becomes the blanket goal for all of our church planting, by the very nature of that- you make this point that you made earlier- urban churches will almost always fail, according to that metric, because you have different dynamics.
In kind of more urban areas, specifically the more disadvantaged areas, you’re gonna have folks who can’t give as much. You have folks who can’t buy buildings, you have folks who can barely pay the rent, but you’re also going to have gentrification coming in.
So gentrification is driving up the cost of doing business, the cost of doing organizations and churches in a particular city. And so if your strategy is, is by and large, on average, you know, ‘every church has to be sustainable, like 3, 4, 5 (years), just by sheer definition, the numbers of churches that are in those areas, you’re always going to have- those churches are never going to be the center of your network. They just never will be. They’ll be an add-on, they’ll be like this, you know, department, they’ll be this stream, but they’re not going to be the center.
There’s nothing wrong with churches with more resources subsidizing a church plant that has difficulty surviving by itself for months or even years. Not at all. But the motivations of why this is being done matters, and for Yang, White Churches with money needs to “repair disparities” Within black Churches as an act of repentance and in order to right 300 years of injustice, and the repairing will never end.
And so if we don’t get to the actual pragmatics of “what does reparations look like,” which for some people, and this is my third point, and then I’m done. When we think about repairing disparities, this is not an initiative, this is not a one-time payment, this is not a strategy.
Repairing disparities is an ongoing posture.
“How long do we have to do this?”
For as long as it takes.
“How long do we have to do this?”
Until Jesus comes. Until he comes to restore.
There’s a sense in which we continue to repair until we really work towards a kingdom ideal. It’s not a five-year initiative, it’s not a 10-year initiative. There may be some initiatives that you may define, within a time, a scope of time, but in terms of that actual repairing disposition, it’s a posture. Like, this is what we’re gonna do this for a long time.
We’re going to figure out how to plant churches, meaningful indigenous churches in areas that may never benefit us as a network. Like we never, we may never get the payback system from these churches., and we gotta be okay with that. And we may be giving twice as much to those churches that we are to suburban churches. But by disposition, we’re going to be okay with that.
There’s nothing wrong with churches with more resources subsidizing a church plant that has difficulty surviving by itself for months or even years. Not at all. But the motivations of why this is being done matters, and for Young, White Churches with money needs to “repair disparities” Within black Churches as an act of repentance and in order to right 300 years of injustice, and the repairing will never end.
Editor’s note. Transcript lightly edited to remove copious amounts of the word “like’ and “you know”. Full video can be seen here
h/t to WokePreacherTV for the vid
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