Just Gospel?!
By Bryan Loritts
Bryan Loritts teaches from Ephesians 2 on the direct relationship between the Gospel and the tearing down of racial barriers, leading to a new, unified people in Christ. Bryan is the Pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship in Mountain View.
Just Gospel?!
By Bryan Loritts

The Gospel & Race: Healing Racial Brokenness (07.01.19)

Facilitator’s Note
This material includes a set of group guidelines for helping the group navigate what can be a complicated topic to discuss. Please read these at the start of each group time to guide the group toward respectful, open, and nonjudgmental dialog. 

Opening Prayer

Open in prayer and invite the Holy Spirit into your group. Take 3 minutes in silence to consciously leave behind distractions or burdens. Shift your focus toward this time of seeking God and practicing the way of Jesus in community.

Guidelines for Conversations about Race 

Before having a conversation about race, a few guidelines will be helpful to protect the space for those all people sharing their experiences and perspectives so they can show up authentically and feel heard. These will be read aloud at the beginning of each group meeting for the remainder of this series to get us all on the same page.

Safety and Confidentiality

In order to create a safe and brave space that encourages dialogue, openness, and honest communication, please limit your sharing to your own personal experiences. Be sensitive, kind, and generous to one another with your comments. In addition, anything personal shared within the group should not be repeated outside the group.

Lived Experiences Are Valid.

This concept is important to remember when listening to the stories and experiences that others in the group will share. Their experience is valid because it is their lived experience and because they lived it that makes it a valid experience 

No Fixing, No Saving, No Setting Other People Straight

When someone shares their experience the right response is active listening and gratefulness for them sharing. We should not challenge their story because of our opinions on a component of the expressed lived experience.

Speak for Yourself

Speak from your own experience instead of generalizing. Use “I” instead of “they,” “we,” and “you.” Be sure that your own language reflects ownership and responsibility by using as many “I” and “me” statements as possible.

Uncomfortable spaces 

It is ok to feel challenged, discouraged, or angry but you are responsible for your reaction to people. So be kind, honest, and help others show up fully by participating in the above guidelines.

Do Further Work Outside of CG

There is educational and emotional work that is integral to your growth personally and communally in this space. This CG material is designed to serve as a 90-minute response to the sermon for discussion, prayer, confession, practice, and relationship. To get the most out of your time together, we highly recommend that individuals also utilize the resources around race provided by Reality SF.

Bryan Loritts on the Gospel and Race 

In his teaching Bryan Lorrits examined the deep connection between the Gospel’s vertical implications for personal relationship with God and its horizontal racial/ethnic implications for society. Read Ephesians 2and then discuss the following questions.

As we do the following exercises, facilitators please guide by reading aloud each section before starting the exercises. 

Brokenness of Sin 

We live in a world full of brokeness and sin; it can be seen in our own stories, families, communities, churches, and systems. In one way or another, we have all been affected and/or shaped by it. 

Pair with someone next to you and take 2-3 minutes for each of you to answer the following questions, remembering to give grace more than you require, to share authentically while being vulnerable and courageous, and to express humble love because we do not know it all.

Listen prayerfully. When your partner finishes, thank them for sharing, and take a few seconds to pause in silence before the next person’s turn.

  1. How have you become aware of the brokenness of sin in your own story personally and historically in your family, including broken racial and prejudicial tendencies?
  2. How has your own brokenness affected how you relate to other races or how you see people of another race?

Pause and Regroup 

Take the next 1-2 minutes to pause before moving on to the next exercise. Please ask each group member to stand up, silently stretch, and take deep slow breaths before moving on to the next section. This is to help reorient us so we can continue engaging and actively listening with the gracious message of Christ.

Jesus Conquered Our Brokenness 

The works of Jesus on the cross fully paid the price of our sins and carried the weight of our brokenness. Through that He brought the Jew and Gentile together. Jesus reconciled them unto Himself and said they were one. The same is true today. 

Pause and take 3 minutes first as a group to individually meditate on His finished work. You can use the following promptings to help with this. Feel free to journal in a notebook or on your phone if it will help you focus:

Jesus I thank you because … 

I love you Jesus because ….. 

Jesus the cross has…. 

Then take the next 5-7 mins as a group to share your reflections from the meditation. (This is optional no one should feel pressured to share.) 

Now that we have reflected and thanked Jesus for what He did for us, take the next 30 minutes as a group to discuss the following questions.

  1. What would it take, require, or look like in the church for Jesus’ ministry of reconciliation to transcend racial boundaries?
  2. What would that look like and mean in my own life? 

End with the Unity Prayer

Close your time together with the Unity Prayer. This is a corporate prayer exercise aimed at giving space to care for one another in a priestly way by lifting up to God the emotions and experiences which you heard expressed in your time together. Take turns praying short prayers in the format of “Lord, hear our ___________ .” Fill in the blank with a feeling that you noticed someone else feeling. You could also fill in the blank with a desire or need that someone expressed. For example: “Lord, hear our discomfort being vulnerable,” “Lord, hear our grief at losses and wounds we’ve experienced in our stories.” When there is a long enough pause that it seems fit, have one person close the time of prayer.