John Perkins, noted speaker and authority on racial reconciliation and founder of Harambee, spoke today at Bethlehem Church of Christ Holiness in Pasadena. Has a great ability to contextualize a deep and challenging message. Here are my notes from his sermon:
Text: Psalm 11… notably v. 4: “If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
-As Dr. Perkins nears the end of his life, it is increasingly his desire to pass on his knowledge and experience to the next generation, believing his calling of his own generation to be near its end.
-The two “foundations” of society, (referring to Ps 11.4) are the family, and the community. These two foundations are crumbling in American society; the latter perhaps being even more insidious b/c nobody seems to be talking about it!
-There are 5 things that the next generation must do in the church, as the church, in response to the current situation:
*We must read scripture. But we must read it differently than the way we have. It is not merely a devotional book, it is a textbook for how to live life, and how to order ourselves before God and others.
*We must “de-hijack” prayer from selfishnes, greed, and individualism, that has tore this country, and its communities, apart. Prayer is more than asking, it’s about listening, and asking God “What can I do?” rather than simply asking for things. We pray for His kingdom to come. (He commented briefly yet passionately about the heresy of prosperity gospel, and of TBN.)
*We must “decolonize” the Gospel. America thought that it could have the Gospel and slaves at the same time. The problem is that even though reconciliation is the heart of the Gospel (to God and to each other), this is considered a secondary, rather than the primary issue of the church. The terms “white church” and “black church” are heretical. There was never a more religious nation than apartheid South Africa; there was never a more religious state than Mississippi, where Perkins grew up and experienced racism of the worst kind. We are a nation under stress (he inserted comments on Wal-Mart’s reliance on federal aid to provide health care (my post on it back in nov)(wal-mart movie) and on the Iraq war based on “false pretenses”); we need the Gospel to break the barriers in our churches and society down, and to show concern for the poor and oppressed.
*We need to realize that God left the church, his body, as his witness/force in the world. While worship is important and necessary, we must figure ways to reach out to the next generation (inserted comment on hip-hop culture here-)
*Finally, we need a philosophy of ministry; that is, we must take key concepts that highlight our purpose as a church, and give them form and structure. His own personal philosophy are the four P’s: (He is a fan of alliteration, I am discovering:) live w/ a Purpose, from it draw your Passion, direct that passion towards People, and live a life of Praise (or Perseverance? the 4th P wasn’t clear. So much for alliteration…)