Inside the January/February 2018 Issue
Equality, Justice, Civility
Don’t We All Aspire to Be Both Timely and Timeless? In the past 15 years, Outreach magazine has published more than 100 issues—thousands of pages. Given the climate in the country and in the American evangelical church today, I don’t know that there is a more important issue that we’ve published than this one. Why? Because it sits squarely at the intersection of timely and timeless—how the Spirit speaks into the cultural issues that are unraveling our social fabric.
Does Race Belong in Our Gospel Conversations? Ken Wytsma argues that it does and that, indeed, the church’s gospel conversation is incomplete if it fails to address justice and reconciliation. “Surely the good news of Jesus has something to say to the greatest historic injustice of the last 500 years”—slavery and its enduring aftermath. He writes, “Good news, like light, touches everything in the room. Like light, it spreads, rolling forward, never-endingly chasing away darkness.”
Bryan Loritts Agrees. “You have to construct a philosophy of ministry where you show people that diversity and reconciliation aren’t fringe issues, but that they’re tethered to the gospel.” He points to Jesus and his place of privilege, echoing Paul in Philippians 2, and reminds us that that place of privilege was his platform for service. And rising out of that spirit of service, he argues for a more inclusive church. “Our sanctuaries reflect our dinner tables. If you want a diverse sanctuary, then you have to have hundreds of diverse dinner tables.” Imagine the impact!
What Does Healing Look Like? What Memphis pastor Chris Conlee discovered, through a long and sometimes heartbreaking path, is that there is something infectious about a life open to the love of God. Once embraced, it spreads. “When people begin to understand the perfect love of God, it spreads out from heart to church to city, patiently healing.” Read his experience in this issue.
As we approach the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., April 4, we must remind ourselves—and the watching world—that there is a better, redemptive way. The cross not only offers reconciliation with God, but a path to loving, respectful reconciliation with one another. Can we live that revolutionary truth in our churches? Can we embrace together a passion to understand equality, advocate for justice and model civility in this polarized environment, and in so doing take a redemptive stand as the church? This is either one of our greatest moments of opportunity as the American church, or we are standing on the threshold of one of our most profound failures. This moment matters, particularly for outreach-oriented churches.
Don’t miss the January/February 2018 Outreach magazine.