In the wake of the Charlottesville protests – and the ongoing racial turmoil our country has been in since its founding – it is time for more student pastors to leverage their influence to lead young people toward spiritual reconciliation.
Student pastors, you cannot avoid the conversation about race inequality. Look at the pictures of these white supremacists in Charlottesville; they are young men – not the older generation that everyone assumes still has racists roots.
These men were teenagers in a student ministry less than a decade ago.
If you passively sit back, waiting for your senior pastor to speak about hard topics, you are creating a culture of uninformed and spiritually weak Christians.
It is easy to feel lost as to what you can do to make a difference.
Being detached geographically doesn’t detach your ethical and spiritual responsibility to denounce evil and advocate for change.
What should a student pastor do to make lead change?
Have ongoing conversations about race, reconciliation, and Jesus’ model of ministry.
Offering up a prayer the Sunday after a racial tragedy isn’t going to change our culture. As a spiritual leader, you must constantly denounce hate and oppression and lead your people to live as citizens of Heaven – the hands and feet of the Body of Jesus Christ.
Theologian Karl Barth said, “We have to read the Bible in one hand, and the newspaper in the other.” Student ministries cannot be detached from culture. The Spirit of God hasn’t give us a spirit of fear but of courage and power (2 Timothy 17). You must lead ongoing conversations about the injustices that are happening around the world and how the power of Jesus, extended through the local church, can radically change our world.
Expand your students’ worldview by ministering cross-culturally.
If ignorance breeds racism, then we must expose our students to the cultures that exist beyond their cul-de-sacs. They need to see that people are people and that the need for Jesus transcends race, social status, and gender. Ministering cross-culturally has to be an ongoing aspect of your ministry. Serving one time in that one area will not shape your students’ worldview to minister to others.
Don’t tolerate hate in your church.
Love isn’t silent. Our student ministries can’t be silent about evil. Jesus wasn’t – He constantly crossed racial and social barriers to heal broken people. It is time for you to speak up and use whatever platform that you have to influence change in your community. Your students will follow your leadership.
Lead by example.
At the end of the day, you have to help your students become doers of God’s Word. We need to cultivate Christians who act in our passive culture. Connect students and parents to the tangible steps to fight evil. Those steps will look different in each community. Christians have the ministry of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:11-21). Student pastors have the responsibility to equip students glorify Jesus.
In addition, here are a few passages you can reference as you continue to stand against evil and encourage your students to be the salt and light of the world.
Bible Passages To Reference As You Speak Against Racism:
John 4 – Jesus’ Encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well
Luke 10:25-37 – Parable of the Good Samaritan
Ephesians 2:19-20 – “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.”
Revelation 7:9 – “After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”
Matthew 22:37-39 – “Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Galatians 3:28 – “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
1 John 2:11 – “But anyone who hates a brother or sister is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness. They do not know where they are going, because the darkness has blinded them.”
2 Corinthians 5:14 – “For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died.”