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Finding God: 4 Ways to Decolonize your faith

BY JENNIFER GARRETT | DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS & COACHING




Last week, I spoke on the idea of a what it means to have a pure heart and how that process refines us and reshapes us. And as we come up on the anniversary week of what was most likely the most difficult year for the entire world, there is a collective unity, a collective grief that bonds us together.


It is the global community that God intended for us, one that sees suffering across parts of the world and responds with compassion and love.


But some deep rooted tensions like cultural change or navigating racial justice, has never come easy or willingly from the church which has left so many wondering, “what does my Christian faith even look like now?”


But some deep rooted tensions like navigating racial justice, has never come easy or willingly from the church and has left so many wondering, “what does my Christian faith even look like now?”

When I think of the collective Church today, I see they’ve moved on with business as usual. Packing in church buildings again, against health guidelines ignoring the sounds of those in pain from losing loved ones or of those traumatized by systemic racism and injustice.


The American Church has not had a pure heart, and in turn has missed opportunities to see God. In order to heal we must remember, we must remember the silence the Church had during the Holocaust, we must remember, the slow action and tensions we harbored during the Civil Rights movement and the Jim Crow South. We must not imagine ourselves to be greater than what we thought we were, but ask for God to reveal to us our truest form.


The Christian Church has an overwhelming history of leaders who are caught up in sex scandals. All the while preaching condemnation and judgment to their congregations.


Turning a blind eye towards racism, xenophobia, and the violence of White Supremacy, all the while reminding people to love their neighbor.


This is a lack of pure heart and this is a missed opportunity to see God.


We — as Christians — have a responsibility to be accountable, to answer the ones who are abused by our neglect and who are leaving the church in droves.

We — as Christians — have a responsibility to be accountable, to answer the ones who are abused by our neglect and who are leaving the church in droves.


And it starts with the heart.


I came across this article on NPR about how Evangelical Leaders signed an open letter condemning radicalized Christian Nationalism. This comes nearly 2 months after the Capital attack. This is a step in the right direction, but the delay is painful and confusing. I know that if we’re going to begin the healing journey, the invitation to lament can't begin without the process of repentance, or the acknowledgement of the brokenness of the American Church.


Recently, American evangelist and Bible teacher, Beth Moore, announced she was officially leaving the Southern Baptists.


PhD. professor and sexual assault survivor, Susan Codone, who supports Moore said in an interview, "Beth is not leaving Christ. She's just leaving a toxic faith system that made it difficult for her to serve Christ and lead her ministry," Codone said.”


In order to fully engage in a global God who reaches beyond the scope of what American Christianity has been able to offer, we have to consider decolonizing our faith.


Growing up in the church, People of Color have often been told what Jesus looks like, sounds like, and acts like. And have been encouraged to follow that model to perfection.


But what if we invite ourselves to explore a more realistic version, not only of Jesus, but of our faith entirely that invites different cultures and the stories of women into the narrative?


Here are just a few ways I recommend beginning that process:


Divorce yourself from the Western Worldview

Whether we'd like to admit it or not, many of us were raised with the understanding that there is only one way to view church and church culture, only one way to do mission, and only one way to serve God. Much of that includes the church structure that we see today and the mega church model we've known throughout history. But allowing ourselves to step back and look at how Jesus was worshiped among the nations, invites us to see a new perspective that we never thought was possible.


Understanding the Holistic Person of Jesus

In the same way we've understood a western worldview of the church we've also only understood Jesus from the lens of a blonde hair blue-eyed image that models perfection and complete sanctity. But Jesus was also very much human. He felt pain, anguish, emotion, fear, sadness, exhaustion, and joy. He was a Middle-Eastern man, an immigrant, someone who the poor knew on a first name basis. Getting a clearer picture of who Jesus was is a great way we can reshape our understanding around his journey.


Explore the Communal Gospel

When we look at the idea of a communal gospel, we invite other people to the table to tell their stories and representations of Jesus that reflect the beauty of their culture and understanding. We invite the narrative of Revelations that says "Every tribe, tongue, and nation, will confess that he is God." By exploring the gospel from different voices, we give a mouthpiece to communities whose experiences have been lost.


Discuss with Community

In times where confusion or deconstruction happens, discussion with community is crucial. There is joy and suffering in community, belief and unbelief, a rawness that is holy and right. And above all else, there is a connection between you and the people who are wrestling with in your faith. The rediscovery of a wholistic view of God requires a space for processing your journey in community.


We know that when it comes to dismantling your faith, deconstruction, and even processing racial grief and trauma, it's not an easy thing to do alone. There are so many layers and complexities.


That's why we're starting the Communal Gospel course series next month. We'll gather every Tuesday night in April, to discuss these topics in further detail and to have some open conversation around how we can explore the communal gospel.


Join us as we decolonize the Gospel story and provide you with the tools to share the good news about Jesus. This 4-week course will cover topics like; divorcing ourselves from a western worldview, understanding the holistic person of Jesus, and exploring a more inclusive gospel narrative.


If you’re interested, sign up now for a Tuesday night class starting in April and enjoy some free resources from our Coaching Department as we explore what it looks like to decolonize our faith together.


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Check back here next week as we continue our March Resource Space blog series. You can find these tips available to download and other helpful resources we’ll be featuring at www.stpeteunderground.com/resources.


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