What We Talk About When We Talk About Race
By Dave Lomas
Dave Lomas introduces a new series, defining race and ethnicity and naming the walls of division that, through the power of the Gospel, we hope to tear down.
What We Talk About When We Talk About Race
By Dave Lomas

The Gospel & Race: Owning Our Stories (06.24.19)

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, 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.

Sermon Response 

Read these scriptures and selected quotes from the sermon and then discuss the questions as a group (recommending keeping this discussion portion to 30 minutes due to the following exercise):

Quick synopsis: Dave Lomas examined Ephesians 2:11-18and the Gospel’s emphasis on removing walls of division between races/ethnicities such as Jews and Gentiles. Then the sermon named the the history of racism in the United States and the church’s complicity with this system of injustice. At the end, the message called our church do the work of learning, gaining awareness, and lamenting & repenting from our complicity with the sin of racism—while simultaneously remaining a church of tender, gracious community that allows us to humbly examine what’s within.

“Racism is a system of advantage based on race.”

  1. What did you find surprising, inspiring, or challenging from the sermon?
  2. What do you hope to learn, gain from this series?

Telling Our Stories – “I Am” Poem 

The following exercise helps us reflect on the different parts of our stories that make us who we are and gives us an intentional space to hear one another’s stories. Fill out the template in silent reflection for 10-20 minutes, depending on if people in your group need more time. Be as specific as you’d like while filling out the “I Am” Poem template.

Sharing: Each person will read their poems out loud. As you listen, actively reflect on how you connect to their stories. Intentionally embrace the aspects of their story that are different from your own. Listen prayerfully. When each person finishes, thank them for sharing, and take a few seconds to pause in silence before the next person’s turn.

“I Am” Poem

I am from ______________________________________________________________ 

(brands—clothing, products, labels commonly used growing up). 

I am from ______________________________________________________________ 

(sounds, feelings, scents that remind you of your culture).

I am from ______________________________________________________________ 

(favorite childhood activities, books you remember most, toys you collected), 

from ______________________________________________________________

(family member’s names/names of people who took care of you). 

I am from ___________________________________________________________

(names of the places your ancestors/family are from, think of home countries), 

from _______________________________________________________________

 (names of the places your ancestors/family planted roots in the United States).

I am from ____________________________________________________________ 

(phrases you’ve grown up listening to, superstitions/oddities your parents/guardians always used) 

I am from ___________________________________________________________ 

(foods you ate growing up and how you feel eating them now), 

from _______________________________________________________________ 

(holidays/traditions you grew up celebrating or wish you had celebrated) 

I am from ___________________________________________________________ 

(faith traditions, faith journey, spiritual discoveries), 

from _______________________________________________________________  

(cultural brokenness: idols and sin tendencies; racial brokenness: broken relationships with other cultures—personally, historically, in your family) 

I am from __________________________________________________________

(specific moments or memories in your life where you did not enjoy being your ethnicity), 

from ______________________________________________________________ 

(phrases or words that remind you of great joys in your family and in your life) 

I am from ___________________________________________________________  

(specific moments or memories in your life where you really loved being your ethnicity; when you have experienced restoration and redemption in your cultural identity), 

I am from ___________________________________________________________  

(great realizations you’ve made in life, quotes, mottos you hold dear) 

I am from __________________________________________________________ 

(activities, adjectives, descriptions that best describe your identity today) 

I am _______________________________________________________________ 

(your name)


When everyone is finished, discuss the  following prompts:

  1. What was it like to write and share your poem? What emotions did you feel?
  2. What was it like to listen to each others’ poems?

End with Prayer

Close your time together with Unity Prayer. This is a kind of 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.