Reformation: New 95 Theses Calls Out Segregation in American Church

On the 500th Anniversary of the Reformation, the Mosaix Global Network posted “95 Theses” calling out systemic segregation in the American church, said the organization’s co-founder, Mark DeYmaz, on Tuesday.

The 95 Theses were written by 95 faith leaders from the US and around the world, including Michael Emerson, Brenda Salter-McNeil, Mark DeYmaz, Dr. John M. Perkins, Jenny Yang, Choco De Jesus, Ed Stetzer, Miles McPherson, Michael Frost and many more!

READ: Top 7 Answers For Racial Reconciliation From a Christian Perspective

As co-founder and president of the Mosaix Global Network, it is my sincere hope that our collective words will a) help fan the flames of this legitimate Movement of the Holy Spirit in our lifetime, (b) spur important conversation, (c) inspire conviction, and (d) motivate literally 1,000s of pastors, church planters, ministry leaders, etc., to take action in their own local churches, in order to advance systemic change, over the next few years.

Preamble

October 31, 1517, is traditionally considered the day that German priest and scholar Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses for consideration at All Saints’ Church (more commonly, Castle Church), in Wittenberg, Germany. Legend suggests that he did so by nailing them to the church door, although this cannot be proven. In so doing, Luther aimed to bring about reformation in the church by addressing widespread abuses in his day. Furthermore, his emphasis on justification by faith was never intended to abandon consideration of faithful witness, but just the opposite.

As Luther writes in The Freedom of a Christian, union with Christ by faith involves caring for our neighbors in love. To care for our neighbors, that is for those very different than us as defined by Christ (Luke 10:25-37), and thus to fulfill the whole Law beyond mere love for God (Matthew 22:40; Galatians 5:14), requires proximity (Ephesians 4:1-13f.).1 For Christians, fundamentally, this means walking, working, and worshipping God together as one in and through local churches beyond the distinctions of this world that so often and otherwise divide. In so doing we provide a credible witness of God’s love for all people on earth as it is in heaven.

This biblical expectation, i.e., this specific mystery (“of Christ,” Ephesians 3:4; “my (Paul’s) gospel,” Romans 16:25, 26; “the word of God in its fullness, the mystery,” Colossians 1:25-27), was first revealed by the Spirit to His holy apostles and prophets (Ephesians 3:2-6) with the intent that “…through the (local) church, the manifold (Gr. polypoikilos -> “much-varigated: marked by a wide variety of colors, i.e., of cloth or a painting.” Thayer’s Greek Lexicon) wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms,” (Ephesians 3:10). Therefore, as the Apostle Paul challenged the collective church at Ephesus (Ephesians 4:1-6ff.), and today as well, believers are to walk worthy of this calling: namely, to be one in the church for the sake of the Gospel.

Call to Reformation

Whereas Exists:

  • Misunderstanding and misapplication of the homogeneous unit principle
  • Self-centered human nature
  • Personal preferences rooted in privilege
  • The collective pain of marginalized people groups
  • The enmeshment of politics, capitalism, and Christianity
  • Stubborn pride, theological arrogance, and incomplete exegesis
  • Spiritual forces of wickedness in heavenly places

The below statements are intended to challenge erroneous yet entrenched thinking, approach, and practice that…

  • has led to the systemic segregation of churches by race, class, and culture
  • perpetuate injustice in the church and society at large
  • validate the preferential treatment of some over others
  • undermine collective witness
  • call into question the sincerity of words in the absence of works
  • hinder efforts to advance a credible message of God’s love for all people, the very Gospel, itself, in an increasingly diverse and cynical society
  • cannot and should not be any longer perpetuated

We, the undersigned, submit the following for consideration and discussion. In so doing we boldly call for a new reformation, and challenge local churches in the 21st century to embrace 1st century understanding and praxis, whereby men and women of diverse ethnic and economic backgrounds will be encouraged, equipped, and established to walk, work, and worship God together as one in systemically healthy multi-ethnic and economically diverse congregations…

  • as envisioned by Jesus Christ on the night before He died (John 17:20-23)
  • as described by the New Testament writer, Luke, in describing the local church at Antioch (Acts 11:19-26; 13:1), and
  • as prescribed by the Apostle Paul throughout his life and writings (e.g., Ephesians and Romans)
  • for the sake of the Gospel (Romans 1:16; 16:25)
  • on earth as it is in heaven (Revelation 7:9)

Indeed, it is our sincere hope that existing pastors, church planters, and other ministers, lay and vocational, alike, as well as entire teams of church staff, denominational and network leaders, professors and seminarians, and more, will take time to read, reflect, and respond to these statements as the Holy Spirit leads, with intentionality, and join us in bringing reformative change to churches throughout the United States and around the world.

In the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ,

Amen

95 Theses Concerning Unity & Diversity in the Local Church

Editor’s Note: Below are 10 of the 95 Theses selected to give an example of what Mosaix Global Network has set out to do. DeYmaz told TogetherLA.net that this movement to unify the church continues beyond this 95 Theses.

“God commands us to remain in His love. What, then, is the specific command? To love each other not as the world loves us: divided, segregated and fearful. Rather, as He has loved us by laying down our lives for one another. I’m not sure how anyone can possibly lay down their life for another when we can’t even agree to come together for something as beautiful and natural as worship (let alone to pray and break bread). So-called love for one another that serves to reinforce an image of our preferences only becomes an idol of our own likeness.”
– Robyn Afrik • Afrik Advantage • Holland, MI

“If the local church is intended to provide an approximate picture of what a future together looks like in the kingdom of heaven, then our ethnic and economic divisions only, sadly, provide others – those outside the faith – with an inaccurate, incomplete, and unattractive picture of God and eternity. Unity without diversity is just uniformity.”
– Ray Chang • Pastor, Ambassadors Church • Brea, CA

“If the words of Jesus are true – that every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand – then it is unthinkable for the local church to gather according to their cultural idols and preferences, dividing ourselves by our ethnicities or spiritual gifts. With the power of the Holy Spirit and the Good News we can and must be better than our cultural distinctions. We must be united in the thoughts, words, and deeds of Christ throughout all tribes, tongues, and ethnicities.”
– Benjamin Cloud • Pastor of AMADEO Church • Queen Creek, AZ

“Racial diversity is not something to be tolerated in the church; it is something to be celebrated in the church. Why? Because the gospel of grace is a worldwide announcement celebrating ‘no more separation!’”
– Ben Dailey • Lead Pastor, Calvary Church • Dallas/Ft. Worth, Texas

“Without sacrifice, diversity remains a nice, romantic ideal. In the spirit of reformation, we must move from efforts and ideals to sacrifice and service for diversity to become reality in the church.”
– Wilfredo “Choco” De Jesús • Senior Pastor, New Life Covenant Church • Chicago, IL

“Systemic inequities and racialization within the American church have unintentionally undermined the very Gospel we love and for which we live. An increasingly diverse and cynical society is no longer finding credible the message of God’s love for all people as proclaimed from segregated pulpits and pews. Jesus both commands and expects believers – individually and collectively – to love God and our neighbors; biblically speaking, those very different than us. Indeed, the Apostle Paul’s entire life and ministry was devoted to advancing a gospel of Gentile inclusion in opposition to an otherwise all Jewish understanding of the Gospel, local church, and coming kingdom of God. For nearly twenty years, then, I have been asking myself and seeking to address one simple question: If the kingdom of heaven is not segregated, why on earth is the local church?”
– Mark DeYmaz • Founding Pastor and Directional Leader, Mosaic Church; Co-founder and President, Mosaix Global Network • Little Rock, AR

“The God who sanctifies the church is far more freakishly “other” to us than are our neighbors. If we cannot abide in the discomfort of difference with them; if we cannot relinquish any measure of preference and control for the love of people that we can see, then how can we claim to desire an encounter with the Holy One whom we have not seen? The discomfort of diversity—the fear, selfishness, and pride we must surrender—is part of God’s sanctification curriculum.”
– Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Childs Drury • Professor and Pastor • The Wesleyan Church

“The best way to learn to love one another across racial lines is to do life together and get to know one another’s back stories. This begins the process of identifying and eliminating our implicit biases. Multi-ethnic churches are a critical way to do racial reconciliation.”
– Kevin Haah • Founding Pastor, New City Church • Los Angeles, CA

“Redeeming the soul of America from the sin of racism requires the church to face its own historic complicity in that sin. For the church, this is where change must begin.”
– Dr. John A. Kirk, Director of the Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity, University of Arkansas at Little Rock • Little Rock, AR

“The pursuit of racial unity and diversity in the multi-ethnic church is a blood issue. The blood of Christ purchased women and men from every tribe, tongue, people, and nation; our reconciliation with God and with one another. The slain Lamb thus deserves the reward of His suffering: the diverse familia of God sitting at God’s table. And by the way, no one group owns the table as God built it with the wood from a blood-stained cross. His blood is powerful enough to heal and put to death for us historical hostilities. No follower of Jesus gets a pass on the work of reconciliation.”
– Inés Velásquez-McBryde • MDiv Candidate, Fuller Theological Seminary • Pasadena, CA

READ THE FULL 95 THESES AT MOSAIX GLOBAL NETWORK

About Mosaix

Mosaix is the central hub for all things Multiethnic Church. Founded in 2004 by Mark DeYmaz (D.Min.) and George Yancey (Ph.D.), Mosaix has organized, mobilized, and resourced the growing Movement by casting vision, connecting leaders of like-minded leaders, conferencing, and coaching. Throughout that time, since 2001, the percentage of churches having at least 20% diversity in their attending membership has risen from 7.5% to 13.7%, and to 14.4% among Protestant Evangelical churches. According to sociologist Michael O. Emerson, author of the seminal work, Divided By Faith, Mosaix has played a preeminent role in driving such statistical change.

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