My Thoughts on the Church and Interracial Marriage

The other day I was scrolling through Facebook and saw this status posted by one of my friends:

A church banned inter-racial couples……hmmm, and we wonder why so many non-christians look at ‘christians’ the way they do….so sad.

I wanted to see what all this was about for myself so I googled it and found that in fact a church in Kentucky did ban interracial couples from being a part of their church. I would recommend you read that article entitled “Small Kentucky Church Bans Interracial Couples” so you know where I’m coming from in this post (just click the article title and it will take you to it). Also, click here to read another article on this same situation. After reading the article and thinking about the whole issue I want to share my thoughts on it.

No where in the Bible does God say interracial marriage is wrong. The people who are against interracial marriage will go to several passages in the Old Testament where God tells people not to marry others in different countries or people groups. It is a huge leap to go from these verses and then say interracial marriage is wrong. Nowhere in the New Testament does God say couples cannot marriage other races. I’m not saying the Old Testament is not profitable for us today. I believe the whole Bible (Old and New Testament) are profitable and God’s inspired Word for us today. What I am saying is that there are things in the Old Testament that does not apply to us in this dispensation. It is dangerous when the church starts to set standards and rules in place that are found nowhere in Scripture. Some other popular issues that people stand against and say are “sin” when it’s not taught that way in Scripture is dancing, drinking, Bible translation, and styles of worship. Don’t make things wrong or a sin if the Bible doesn’t.

The Gospel is seen in interracial marriage. God loves diversity! We serve a God who loves diversity because it shows how marvelous and awesome He is! I believe an interracial couple shows the Gospel very well. In God’s eyes there are no races, just humans that He loves and desires to have a relationship with through His Son Jesus. I believe God sees humans in only two groups: His children and His enemies. The Bible is clear that a unsaved person is an enemy of God (Romans 5:10), but once they accept the free gift of salvation they become a child of God (John 1:12). In Christ there are no racial, ethnic, or social distinctions, the ground is level at the foot of the cross. In Galatians 3:28 Paul says it this way:

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus (ESV)

In Christ we are all the same! So why can’t a white Christian man marry a black Christian women? It’s unbiblical and stupid to say they cannot! The Bible doesn’t say it’s wrong! The only kind of marriage God makes clear through the Scripture we should not support is marriage between a believer and a non-believer (2 Corinthians 6:14).

I have been blessed to be around many Christians who are interracial couples and when I look at the love between them I see the Gospel. It’s encouraging and I wish more Christians we see that interracial marriage is not unbiblical and because our God is a diverse God it shows His unmatchless love and the wonder of the Gospel!

Here is a quick video that is worth watching on this subject. In this video John Piper explains why pastors should bless interracial marriages. If your not a pastor, still watch this and learn why you should bless interracial marriages as well.

Recommended things on this subject: John Piper’s book Bloodlines, “Racial Harmony and Interracial Marriage” sermon by John Piper, and “Can’t Afford to be Color Blind” video with John Piper.

Youth Ministry Media

Youth Ministry and media. These days those two words seem inseparable. If we are going to be effective in youth ministry in today’s culture we must use media in one way or another. I keep a few church media sites bookmarked such as Igniter Media, Centerline New Media, Bluefish TV, and Wing Clips. I ran over a new one the other day called Youth Ministry Media. So far I have been extremely impressed by the resources and things on this site. This is a site every youth pastor needs to bookmark and keep an eye on.

If you subscribe to their e-mail list you will receive a short, FREE e-book called Youth Ministry Media: 5 Ways to Communicate Effectively in a Digital World (Click here to go to the sign up page). It’s only a few pages long so I quickly read it and got some great practical tips for youth ministry from it. The short book basically gives you a 5 step process to effectively use media in your youth group. I will quickly list them and explain them briefly.

1. Set up a plan. Before you start to use any type of media, especially social media, find out what type of social media your students are using. Don’t us Twitter if your students are not using it. If all your students on Facebook then you better start using Facebook!

2. Facebook. Facebook has 500 million active members including your students! Your students, and parents, are already on Facebook so start using it in your ministry! Create a page or group and have it has a hub for your ministry. Also, use the Facebook to promote and get rsvp’s for events.

3. Website. Even though most of your students, and parents, will use Facebook has the main hub for your ministry, don’t neglect having a good website. Websites are more professional and still there will be some who would rather go to a website than Facebook. If you are going to have a website, make sure it is always up to date!

4. E-Mail. Sending out a monthly or quarterly e-mail is a great way to keep parents, and students, up to date on activities and things in the youth ministry. I would recommend you use these e-mails as newsletters that have information, recommended resources for parents, and a quick word about the youth ministry from the youth pastor himself.

5. Texting. Almost every student has a cell phone and are texting. Neglecting to use texting in your youth ministry would be to neglect one of the most effective ways of communicating with your students! There are great programs and apps out there that will help you organize all your students, leaders, and parents numbers for texting such as Simply Text, Google Voice, and Group Text.

Even though media is a must for youth ministry these days, make sure you are wise and use caution because it can be, and has been, used by our enemy to destroy many students and youth workers. Take a few moments and read a blog post I posted awhile back called Guidelines for Using Social Media in Youth Ministry that will help you understand how you can use social media and be wise at the same time.

Guidelines for Using Social Media in Youth Ministry

Josh Evans, a good student pastor friend of mine, said this in a recent blog post about using social media in youth ministry:

Remember, social media is part of your job. I felt bad years ago for using Facebook during the day, but honestly, now, I consider it a part of my job. I connect with students and pastors through this so I do not feel bad using it throughout the day for those purposes, not just for personal use. This will eliminate being addicted to it during the evenings.

I really loved what Josh said. Social media is so huge in our culture, we in ministry would be foolish not to use it. At the same time we need to remember that social media can be a leaders worst nightmare if not used correctly. With that in mind, the good and the bad of social media in ministry, Walt Mueller gives a few good guidelines for social media use within youth ministry in a recent blog:

Yesterday I promised to follow-up some personal social media use guidelines for youth workers with some parameters for use of social media and technology in youth ministry. Here’s the deal. . . in our Digital Kids Initiative we are not looking at real specific strategies. In other words, our goal is not to provide a lot of “how-to’s.” There are plenty of other people out there who can help you with that. In fact, we hope to set up a special spot on our Digital Kids Initiative Page where youth workers can share their great ideas with each other. What I want to do is provide some general guidelines and parameters that will help us use and address social media in God-honoring and redemptive ways, rather than in ways that are counter-productive (even when we may not know it) to the advance of God’s Kingdom.

Here are five general practical ideas, guidelines and parameters. . .

1. Use technology and social media to enhance, not replace, real-world ministry and community.One of the very real dangers of all these emerging technologies and tools is that we will begin to employ and rely on them so much that our face-to-face ministry and relationships wane. . . even if only a little bit. Kids in today’s culture all need more face-to-face and real-world relationship time. Physical presence is necessary for spiritual nurture. Technology and social media should serve to extend our real-world flesh and blood relationships with students. In addition, don’t buy the lie that digital community is real community. Real community is lived out in close physical proximity with down and dirty vulnerability. Remember. . . technology can extend and enhance this kind of community, but it can never replace it. Doing life together virtually really isn’t doing life together.

2. Use technology and social media to connect and communicate. Perhaps you’ve heard me say that in youth ministry eras past, the best way to get into the heart and soul of a student was to get into their bedroom and take a look at the walls. Not a very smart strategy these days. Yep, it’s a different world. But the bedroom wall has extended in today’s world onto the walls, photos, comments, links, profiles, and postings that fill their Facebook pages. Facebook offers a connection to who they are. Go there to learn more about their hopes, dreams, desires, struggles, and needs. And if what you find on their Facebook pages doesn’t line up with what you know of them in the context of real community, well. . . then you’ve gained a deeper sense of who they are and how you can minister to them because they’ve just revealed their disconnected identities and selves. Social media also allows you to communicate with your group during the week. Use it to extend your reach by promoting events, sharing Scriptures, posting thoughts, and putting up thought-provoking quotes.

3. Use technology and social media to equip and inform parents. Social media must be employed to communicate and stay in touch with parents. If you’re wondering what to pass on to parents on a regular basis. . . well. . . just check out our CPYU website for a treasure-chest of stuff to pass on. Provide them with links to news, articles, and reviews. Send them an article a week. Connect them to our daily Youth Culture Today radio show. Or, subscribe to our weekly Youth Culture e-Update and forward it on to your ministry parents. Parents love youth workers who keep them informed.

4. Teach kids to use technology and social media redemptively. This is discipleship, plain and simple. Warn them about how easy digital media can suck them in and become idolatrous. Teach them about the many dangers that lurk on the Digital Frontier. . . things like sexting, dumbing down, information overload, pornography, over-sharing, etc. We’ll be talking more and more about more and more of these dangers in the coming weeks and months. Introduce our Digital Code of Conduct to parents and their kids. It’s a tool that offers clear parameters to discuss and follow. In addition, walk them through the Scriptures, teaching them about what the following issues and topics have to say about how they live on the Digital Frontier: truth, authority, humility, spiritual maturity, wisdom, respect, creating culture, honesty, sexuality, integrity, discernment, self-control, etc. Be sure to discuss these topics in your one-on-one conversations and in your times with your youth group.

5. Help your students establish media parameters by establishing media parameters in your ministry. An 8th grade teacher who’s been teaching for 16 years told me this about the effect of social media and technology on kids: “We’ve lost the art of written and spoken language, solving problems regarding differences in personalities, resolving conflict, and maintaining real, loyal, accountable relationships.” That’s not the kind of world we want to create or live in. Since they are increasingly tethered and almost always “on,” your youth ministry needs to be a place where there are times where they turn it all off and put it aside. Teach them how to be close to others in physical proximity by honoring them and turning off your phone, your computer, and your tablet and then focus on those who are present. Establish and encourage them to practice a media sabbath – one day a week when they turn it off and put it aside. Give them opportunity and space to be silent (Remember those youth group “solos” that were so meaningful for so many of us?). Promote deep reading, contemplation, and quiet times to sit and mediate on God’s Word. . . listening to hear Him speak. Or how about this. . . a 40-hour technology famine to raise money for a cause?

Josh Evans is the student pastor at Union Grove Baptist Church in Lexington, NC. Head over to his blog for some great stuff on leadership, student ministry, and church life. Walt Mueller is a worldwide student ministry leader who writes, speaks, and studies youth culture. He is the founder and President of the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding. Check out his blog here.

Social Networking for Ministry

I recently starting using Twitter to stay connected with others in ministry. It has been great because I am getting to follow some of my favorite speakers and also keep in touch with others in student ministry! As far as students, I use Facebook to keep in touch with the students in my ministry. I send them messages, comments, and such to let them know I’m praying for them! Our student ministry, The Grove (www.ugbcgrove), now has it’s own Facebook group and it has been great! The parents and teens are loving it because we can upload and tag the students with pics we take at activities and such. Also, we can get info out a whole lot easier and better through the Facebook! I would love to hear what others have to say about using these sites for ministry purposes! Please comment and let me hear your thoughts and vote on the poll below!