Under Your Skin

10 days ago our teaching team decided to change directions and talk about the violence roaring through our culture.  We began praying, planning and studying, and within 24 hours tragedy had struck our city again.  For the second time in 3 months, a Kansas City, Kansas police officer was shot and killed in the line of duty.  Immediately, I was heart-broken and filled with a realization that what we were going to talk about was bigger here than I had realized at first.

I spent a lot of time learning from others who have talked about this and so not all of these thoughts are original with me, however we needed to enter this discussion.  Since then there have been a good number of interactions and conversations started.  In case you missed our thoughts in “Under Your Skin”, you can check it out here.

Do you see other ways to be involved in a positive solution?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Under Your Skin

Race, Violence and Courage.

I actually wept in my office yesterday.  Not because I knew the officer.  Not because I am somehow involved with or attached to the Kansas City Kansas Police Department.  I wept because I was incredibly sad and stunned.  The events of yesterday…the events of the past several weeks throughout our country have been filled with tragedy and pain.

The men and women who serve our city as first responders have so much courage and conviction.  The courage and conviction it takes to put that uniform on daily, the courage and conviction it takes to run toward the scenes filled with danger- that courage means something.  It is that type of courage that I believe Christ-followers should have toward the mission given to them.  A courage born from conviction that the Gospel matters.  But, beyond that, we, the people of Kansas City need that same courage and conviction to remember that people matter.  People who are different then you and people who see life through a different lens – they all matter.  So what do we do in the face of these tragedies?  Here are a few brief thoughts.

First, let me start with the church because the church is the one place where we are convinced that everyone is made in the image of God and therefore has value.  The church must have the courage to engage in building meaningful relationships with people, not only of different races but also of different creeds.  The church must be filled with and demonstrate empathy and must speak out against violence as a solution to violence and demonstrating as a solution to racism.  Relationships filled with forgiveness and understanding are the only solution to racism and violence.  That is exactly why we will be talking about these things this weekend!

Second, as a city we must have the courage to stand and not give up.  We must have the courage to care for each other despite differences.  We must have the courage to allow the police to do their jobs.  We must have the courage to refuse to repay evil with evil.

Let me leave you with some lyrics.  Last night while listening to some music on my run I heard this song and it so encouraged my heavy heart.  Here are a few of the words.

They are inside your head
you gotta voice that says
“You won’t get past this one,
you won’t win your freedom”

It’s like a constant war
and you want to settle that score
but you’re bruised and beaten
and you feel defeated

This goes out to the heaviest hearts

Oh, to everyone whose hit their limit,
it’s not over yet, it’s not over yet,
and even when you think you’re finished,
it’s not over yet, it’s not over yet!

If you’re interested, check out the full song here:

 

Race, Violence and Courage.

Changing Our Name – The Vote

Tonight we gathered as a church to make a decision on a very important question: Should we change our name from Oak Grove Baptist Church?  This question is very important largely because of 2 reasons:

  1. This is a decision about our mission.  If we are here to make more and better disciples and our name is hindering people coming here, then shouldn’t we change it?
  2. This is a decision about our future.  If we want to pave the way for the best possible future ministry, we need to look at the difficult questions and make sure that we remove every barrier from the Gospel.

Tonight, the vote passed with an 85% vote to change our name.  I thought that was a great percentage voting for the name change, especially since there are many to whom our name means a great deal.

This vote is significant because it signifies that we as a church are willing to set aside our preferences for the sake of the mission.  It is also significant because I believe that the problem of denominational perceptions in our culture will only get worse.  This choice helps us remove barriers for the Gospel now and in the future.

Now…what is next?  Here are a few things that we will be doing over the next several weeks.

  • Everyone here at Oak Grove will have the opportunity to submit name ideas.  This will be available both online and in person here at the Info Center.
  • After a set time we will take those names and narrow them down – our deacons and staff with do this.
  • Finally we will vote on our new name.

Now, let me leave you with a few thoughts.  First, our mission is not to change our name.  Our mission is to make more and better followers of Jesus.  We must stay focused on that.  Second, thank you to those who have gone before us and sacrificed so much so that we could continue to help reach people for Christ.  Finally…I truly believe that the best is still ahead!

Changing Our Name – The Vote