Race is back in the headlines. Your church members, friends, and co-workers are probably all divided over the tragedy that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia. You have probably already ranted on Facebook, posted on Twitter, or argued with someone over the dinner table.
But have you been quiet about it?
Have you taken the time to process, to evaluate, and to question? Below are a few steps small group leaders can take to promote humility and honest, informed discourse over the cultural crisis currently haunting our hearts.
1. Open the Floor
One of the worst things you can do as a small group leader is to ban discussion. Your small group members are probably anxious to talk about what took place in Charlottesville, so open the floor for discourse. They’re probably wanting to discuss which pastor tweeted what, and which “side” they should stand on (Do we blame Black Lives Matter alongside the KKK? Are evangelicals at all to blame for white supremacy? Are there any Christians who agree with the protestors in Charlottesville? What’s the relationship between politics and religion?). Begin the group with the opportunity for others to gently and compassionately express their opinions.
2. Keep It Positive
Keep it positive by monitoring the discussion and withholding accusation. It’s really easy to point out the bad guy. It’s really easy to blame someone, because black-and-white thinking provides us with accessible answers. Yet as we have seen, we live in a world of gray—a world where people claim to represent a belief system but have strayed far from it. A world where hatred can be so tangible, it comes in the form of blood and bruises. In curses to our brothers. In burnt flags. In vehicles that won’t stop. But no matter who your cultural enemy is: don’t accuse them. Bring the hope of the gospel to bear on the conversation.
The will of God, to which the law gives expression, is that men should defeat their enemies by loving them. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer
3. Pray and Be Quiet
Oftentimes it is a far braver thing to not respond than to respond. Both before and after we discuss the protestors in Charlottesville, we must pray. And in our prayer, we must be silent. We must hold our tongues. We must seek His face. We must beg for answers. We must listen for His response.
Men think that it is impossible for a human being to love his enemies, for enemies are hardly able to endure the sight of one another. Well, then, shut your eyes—and your enemy looks just like your neighbor. – Søren Kierkegaard
Caroline Case is a proud Nashville transplant from Naples, Florida, who serves as the Production Editor for Lifeway’s SmallGroup.com and Discipleship in Context teams. Caroline has a Bachelor of Communication from Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, FL. She is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in English and Creative Writing at Belmont University in Nashville, where she will go on to pursue her doctorate and teach.