I Woke Up This Morning with My Mind...

“I woke up this morning with my mind, and it was,

                          stayed on Jesus.

I woke up this morning with my mind, and it was

                        stayed on the Lord.

Prayin and prayin with my mind, and it was

                        stayed on Jesus

Hallelu, Hallelu, Hallelujah”

I have been thinking about the old Black church songs that I grew up listening to - the songs that my dad would sing bright and early on weekend mornings, alerting us all to the fact that it was time to wake up, wash our faces, brush our teeth and head to the kitchen for our Saturday spread of grits and eggs. I miss those songs. If I’m home for any period of time, my dad will still break out into one of them. For these songs, I’m grateful.

And then I think about the children I may have one day, who may very well be biracial and who may very well grow up in a majority white or multiethnic church. I can’t help but wonder if they’ll know those songs. I suppose that they will if I sing them. And oh, I’ll sing them. But what about their children? And their children’s children? Will these beautiful pieces of their heritage be lost forever? Is that just the way time works?

I’ve been knee-deep in a class on cross-cultural leadership development and I’ve learned a great deal. This week, one of the lectures focused on multiethnic churches. My professor, in conversation with many other articles from various ministry leaders, outlined the steps necessary to build a multiethnic church. It felt good to see it all thought out and organized. I’m a girl who loves a good strategy! However, much of the feedback regarding churches that go on journeys towards multiethnicity states that while predominately-white churches may bolster diverse representation through their efforts towards multiethnicity, they are still largely “white” in their cultural practices. This manifests itself in a variety of ways, namely how small-groups are facilitated and in predominate worship styles. This manifests itself in the food that’s chosen for events and in the time-oriented nature of services. White culture is the norm, the water we’re all swimming in.

This isn’t surprising to me. Assimilation, the process by which minority cultures fold into majority cultures, is much easier than cultural pluralism, the process by which two cultures exchange aspects of themselves in order to build a unified multicultural group. True cross-cultural exchange takes time and great deal of intentionality at every level of a church or organization’s structure. This is hard work. But my dream is that we’d move away from assimilation in our cross-cultural ministry efforts and that we’d move towards cross-cultural exchange, if for no other reason than for my sweet little kids one day. I don’t want them to have to choose.

A girl can dream.