We are in the midst of a new social movement for black lives. It’s a movement that denounces all the ways the state undermines and demeans the lives of black people. It is a movement that embraces the complexity and diversity of all black lives.
And like freedom movements of the past, the church has an opportunity to play a pivotal role. In fact, the role churches, black churches in particular, can serve in the movement was recently topic of a conversation The Root held in their daylong #TheRoot4Jusitce chat.
What was obvious from the chat was that many people still believe the church can participate in the movement in powerful ways, but do not know exactly what those ways are.
Here are just three ways churches can participate in the #BlackLivesMatter movement:
- Open your church and share resources.
The movement needs places where organizing and planning can take place. Now, I can only speak for organizing happening in the South, and in Nashville in particular, but one of the largest challenges that we have is finding spaces large enough and accommodating enough for movement work to happen. This is where churches can step up.Churches can provide inclusive spaces (with Wi-Fi), that aren’t “too churchy,” where all black people, regardless of religious affiliation, sexual orientation, or gender, can feel welcome. Not only that, but churches can offer other valuable resources to the movement. We collect offerings for many things, and it won’t hurt to add a #BlackLivesMatter offering in place of that building fund!
- Invite movement leaders in your city to speak to your congregation.
Opening your church doors and sharing resources is only part of it. There’s a lot of misinformation people believe regarding the #BlackLivesMatter Movement. One way we can clarify who we are, what we stand for, and what our goals are is by using platforms that are created and provided for us.Church platforms provide an opportunity to amplify voices that aren’t normally heard. Not only that, but church platforms provide people opportunities to learn how they can also get involved, put faces to the local movements, and invite an open dialogue and exchange with movement leaders and the community. Movement leaders have so much to offer to churches, and churches can provide a grounding and important type of community for movement leaders.
- Preach the #BlackLivesMatter gospel.
Finally and perhaps most importantly, preachers, church leaders, and churches must embrace and practice a #BlackLivesMatter gospel. Similar to black liberation theology, which was born out of the Civil Rights and Black Power Movements, a practical #BlackLivesMatter theology developed a year after Ferguson.Central to this gospel is the fact that black lives matter. Many of us believe the savior we serve to be a sun-kissed, Palestinian Jew who was hunted, persecuted, and murdered for public display by the state.For that reason, the #BlackLivesMatter gospel is one that proclaims that this religious, revolutionary Jesus stands in solidarity with black folks in this country and around the world. And He calls us to action, to disrupt the status quo, to flip tables. To shut shit down.
Joshua Crutchfield is a history graduate student at Middle Tennessee State University researching and writing about the intersection between the Black Church and Black Power. He is also the co-founder of the #BlkTwitterstorians monthly twitter chat.