Racial reconciliation matters to church leaders. A new Barna study released this year reveals pastors and church leaders are more likely than other Christians to believe the church should work to repair the damage done to the African American community at the hands of slavery and racism. The study reveals two-thirds of pastors (65 percent) believe the effects of slavery continue to be felt today, while only half (50 percent) of practicing Christians agree with that belief.
“Acknowledgement is vital to the forgiveness process…Acknowledgement allows a person to see and absorb what has happened so that they are ready for grace to be applied. Even before God forgives our sin, there has to be an acknowledgement,” Pastor Mark Strong of Life Change Church told Barna.
The study, conducted April 2018 – August 2018, surveyed 1,007 adults, 1,502 practicing Christians, and 600 senior pastors, all in the United States. For its pastor sample, Barna says it “oversampled” to include 100 respondents who are black pastors.
Pastors Are More Empathic to Racial Reconciliation
Barna interprets the data it collected on practicing Christians and pastors this way: “Pastors appear more empathic than practicing Christians not only about the reality of racial inequality, but also about the Church’s role in addressing it.” Because the majority of pastors believe the effects of slavery are still being felt today, there are also more likely to believe the church should play a role in addressing the problem.
For instance, 45 percent of all pastors surveyed believe the church should work to “repair the damage” of the African American community, while only 26 percent of all practicing Christians feel the same. There is quite a lot of variance in how people believe the damage should be addressed, however, and these nuances tend to fall along denominational lines. For instance, while 36 percent of all pastors believe the Church should repent, only 27 percent of non-mainline protestant pastors believe this. Sixty percent of mainline protestant pastors believe repenting is in order. (For more thoughts on a non-mainline protestant pastor’s views on repenting for “generational sins”, you can read about Al Mohler’s thoughts.)
There is a greater consensus among non-mainline protestant pastors that lament should be employed (29 percent). Mainline pastors also look to lament as a viable option (56 percent). As far as tangible action is concerned, 30 percent of mainline pastors believe pursuing restitution with African Americans is in order, while only 13 percent of non-mainline pastors agree with that thought.
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Source: Church Leaders