Healing the Racial Divide in Your Church with Derwin Gray

Thanks for joining us for the unSeminary podcast. We’re talking with Dr. Derwin Gray, the lead pastor at Transformation Church in South Carolina.

In the bible we see every nation, tribe, and tongue worshiping Christ together, yet in our country and churches we continually see examples of the racial divide. Listen in as Derwin shares his heart and steps that we can take toward racial reconciliation in order to achieve God’s vision for a redeemed and reconciled multiethnic family of believers.

  • Consumer Christianity versus authentic Christianity. // Jesus says the world will know His disciples because of their love for one another. There is a difference between consumer Christianity which says Jesus is a means to an end and authentic Christianity which says Jesus is the end. Jesus broke down every dividing wall so we could be a part of a new multiethnic family. This is intrinsic to the gospel.
  • Our differences reflect God. // Some Christians don’t want to talk about race, but Derwin points out that the bible does talk about it. God redeems our colors and our culture to be a beautiful reflection of Him in the world. At the end of the bible there’s every nation, tribe, and tongue worshiping around Christ. God saved us as individuals to put us into a family, and this family is a multicolored family. Keeping silent about the issue of racism hurts the witness of Christ.
  • Homogenous unit principle. // The homogenous unit principle teaches that if churches want to grow fast, they should gather and target the same type of people in a church. This idea was developed by a missionary in India to reach out to the different castes of people and bring them together as the family of God. But it was changed in the US to reach out to people who already look and think alike. Decades later the result is increased political division, racial prejudice, and isolation in the body of Christ, along with deteriorating discipleship.
  • A gospel issue. // If you truly want to heal the racial division in our churches, you need to recognize that there will be a backlash. You need to have a theological conviction that this is a gospel issue so that you can stand against the opposition. Examine your motives for taking this step. You shouldn’t want a diverse church just because America is more diverse, but because it is the outworking of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
  • Diversity in leadership. // Your leadership should reflect the congregation you want to have. That doesn’t mean that someone is on the immigration team just because they are Latino, or someone is on the urban team just because they are Black. It means sharing the pulpit and needs to be reflected in leadership positions that make decisions, such as executive pastors and small group pastors.
  • Cross-cultural competency is important. // Love means being willing to learn about someone else’s culture. When you have the majority culture, you don’t have to listen to others’ stories. Choose to listen so you can understand where people are coming from, and what they experience in their lives. In the gospel, our ethnic differences don’t need to be obliterated, they can be celebrated. All of us through the blood of Jesus are equally declared righteous.
  • Healing our racial divide and living in His light. // Derwin’s book, How to Heal Our Racial Divide: What the Bible Says, and the First Christians Knew, about Racial Reconciliation, is meant to help leaders lead more effectively in the area of racial reconciliation. It goes through Scripture, showing the heart of God, and how God from the beginning envisioned a reconciled multiethnic family in loving community, reflecting his beauty and healing presence in the world.

Don’t miss the giveaway unSeminary is offering to the first five leaders who commit to reading Derwin’s book with another leader at their church. For a chance to win two free copies of How to Heal Our Racial Divide, respond to an email from Rich with your interest.

You can learn more about Derwin Gray, his book, and other resources, such as The Multiethnic Church Roundtable, at his website Or follow along with Transformation Church at

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Thank You to This Episode’s Sponsor: Chemistry Staffing

One of the things that they never teach you in seminary is when to move on from your current church. Over the last couple of years, we have been having a TON of conversations about this with pastors all over the United States. Of all the ministry decisions you make, leaving your position will be the toughest.

Download this two-in-one resource that walks you through the decision-making process.

Episode Transcript

Rich Birch — Well hey, friends welcome to the unSeminary podcast. My name’s Rich and the host around these parts and I am just so honored to have our guest with us today, Dr. Derwin Gray. He’s the lead pastor at Transformation Church it was started in 2010 by himself and his lovely wife, Vicki. Ah, if you don’t know Transformation I don’t know where you’ve been, but it’s a multi-ethic multi-generational missional-shaped community in South Carolina. Over the years Transformation has launched a bunch of campuses and locations including at the Kershaw Correctional Institute and the Lee Correctional Institute. They have outreach opportunities in a number of others. They have a location in Spain, which is amazing. On top of all the Transformation Church stuff that ah that that Derwin’s involved in, he also is a speaker and author, and just an all around great guy. Derwin, welcome to the show. So glad you’re here.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Hey thank you so much, Rich. Appreciate that and as you were just saying about Transformation Church, I mean God has been incredibly gracious and he has brought some incredible Gospel partners who serve along in the staff and in the congregation. And so Jesus is building his church. We’re simply his hands in his feet, but I sure am grateful that he called my wife and I a start Transformation Church and it’s beautiful to see it blossom and mature. And yeah, I’m just blown away and grateful. Thank you.

Rich Birch — Love it. Well we’re so honored that you would you know have that you’d come back on the show. So a little behind the scenes, friends, that are listening in. We’re hovering right around 6000 episodes and when I was looking back over ah the episodes I was thinking man, who would I like to have back on and Derwin was at the top of that list. I really wanted to have you back on, partly to loop back on something you said. We were talking about, which I’m hoping to dive in today, racial reconciliation issues and um I was, up until that conversation, you know I felt like oh I’m like a pretty progressive leader and want to do what I can to ah be the kind of church that reflects our community, and and have led in that way and have we taken you know real practical steps in that way over the years. And you graciously challenged me in that episode and to to actually think a bigger thought, ask a bigger question, which is actually the gospel is about reconciliation and it’s about ultimately ah, the kingdom of God and creating a multi-ethnic future even now. And that has stuck with me and so many times over the years I’ve said to people as we’ve been talking about these issues, I said you know my friend Derwin, he he leaned on me on this issue and and and I really have just… And so I I just am so thankful for you, thankful for your leadership. And so I’d love to pick up that conversation…

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Yeah, yeah.

Rich Birch — …and I know this is one of those you know conversations you find yourself in, but I just want to say thank you for that all those years ago. I appreciate your you know, even gracious and and loving challenge in the midst of ah you know, even a podcast. So appreciate that.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Well and I appreciate you being a good student, and humble, and listening, even five years later. So so so pretty much um, typically within the American Church context we tend to be very pragmatic and pragmatistic says if it’s right, do it.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Or if I’m sorry if it works, do it…

Rich Birch — Mm if it works do it. Right. Yes.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Not if it’s right.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Because the way God’s economy works is it’s not about doing it because it works, do it because it’s faithful. And so when it pertains to.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — racial reconciliation, this is not a side issue…

Rich Birch — Right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …of the gospel of Jesus Christ. I think in a desire to have people come to Christ it’s like a beautiful car that we have stripped to its most minimum aspects and go okay, this is the car. No actually it’s a part of the car. And so within evangelicalism typically we say this: believe in Jesus. He’ll forgive your sins. You won’t go to hell; you go to heaven when you die; he’ll be with you. Well, that’s a part of the car. But the entire car goes back to in Genesis 11 when God’s family scatters. In Genesis 12 he calls a man by the name of Abram, changes his name to Abraham, which means father of many. He says Abraham I’m I’m going to give you a big old family made up of. All the nations of the earth. So let me give you a big old multi-ethnic family, and through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, in the nation of Israel and ultimately Jesus comes, the Jewish savior. And so Jesus’s sinless life, his atoning sacrificial death on the cross…

Rich Birch — Mmm-hmm.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …His resurrection from the dead, seated as Lord, descending of the Spirit is not just to forgive our sins, but is to give Abraham that family with different colored skins. And through the Holy Spirit’s power, through the Gospel as we begin to love each other across our ethnic and demonic barriers.

Rich Birch — Mmm.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Jesus says you will know my disciples because they love one another.

Rich Birch — So good.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — And so there’s a difference between Consumer Christianity which says, Jesus is a means to an end, and Authentic Christianity that says Jesus is the end.

Rich Birch — So good.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — And so Jesus being the end… Romans 8:29 says that he’s the first born of many brothers and sisters from the dead. So in his humanity, he is the prototype of this new multi-ethnic family. And so this is not intrinsic to, this is not separate from the gospel. This is intrinsic to the gospel. What I like to say to folks is listen, over the last twelve years of Transformation Church not only have we seen over 7000 people come to faith. Not only have 4 of us from around a table turned into thousands. Not only have we seen over 1000 baptized. Not only do we have um a free grocery store and we do backpack meals, but we also have a multi-ethnic congregation and we understand Justice. So what I’m proposing is that the gospel is so much bigger than an ah individual transaction.

Rich Birch — So true.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — God saves us as individuals to put us into a family, and this family is a multicolored family. And I know some of the pushback right now is like, well, why do we have to talk about race? And I’m like well because the bible does.

Rich Birch — Yes. Yes. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Think about it. The nation of Israel were slaves in Egypt for 5 years. Canaanites Hitties, Jebusites, (…) on the way to promised land. Babylonians, Romans, Barbarian Scythians, Cornelius was an Italian, there as a Samaritan woman at the well, there’s a good Samaritan. At the end of the bible there’s every nation tribe and tongue around Christ. Our colors and our cultures have the image of God. God redeems our colors and our culture because this colorful family is a beautiful reflection into the world. And I believe it’s a dark, demonic attack that has kept the church silent, particularly the white aspect of Christianity silent…

Rich Birch — Yep.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …on this issue and it’s it’s hurting the witness of Christ so bad.

Rich Birch — Absolutely. Yeah, no absolutely, And I I appreciate that, Derwin, like that is um, yeah, that’s ah, so true and I appreciate you raising the flag for that and and you know providing corrective witness as, particularly to leaders as we think differently, and and try to walk out of or walk away from as as you say demonic practices in the past. I remember when I was in… so like I’ve done a lot of work over the years on church growth, like that’s where I spent a lot of time thinking about how do we help our churches reach more people. And ah part of the irony of that is I only remember one lecture from school on church growth. And it was the homogeneous unit – that was what was taught. Like and and when you talk about the pragmatic nature.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Yep.

Rich Birch — Um, that was a pragmatic approach that was in hindsight, you know is like you say demonic. It’s it’s just because it works, and I’m not even sure it works anymore, but just because it works ah, you know doesn’t mean it’s it’s right. But you know that um, you know I think that has impacted so many of our churches over the years…

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Yeah, yeah…

Rich Birch — …we’ve we have been stuck on this idea.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …and and and yeah and and and, Rich, you know, particularly for the executive pastors and ministry leaders that are listening, they don’t even know that they’ve been baptized in the homogeneous…

Rich Birch — Yes, yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …unit principle. So let’s just do a little history. First of all, what is it? The homogenous unit principle was a principle developed by ah Donald McGovern he was a missionary in India. And in India you have a caste.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — And so what he said is I’m gonna reach the different people of those different castes, but then I’m going to bring them holistically into a church together as the family of God. Because if you don’t, you’re gonna have racist and classist class-filled churches. Well Americans got a hold to to to it and conveniently it fit racist culture of okay, yeah, if you want to grow fast. And who doesn’t want to grow fast? So in order to grow fast, let’s make sure that we reach people who think alike, look alike, same political persuasion. And what you have is you have these churches of sameness. And research shows that homogeneous churches increase political division, racial prejudice. Um it it it deteriorates discipleship. And then let me add this, Rich, is… and I don’t want to be ah… hear my heart in this.

Rich Birch — Mmm-hmm.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — All’s the church growth movement has done for the most part is made bigger churches bigger. Because you have better speakers, better music, better facilities and Christians go to the better place to consume.

Rich Birch — Right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — But if you look at the rise of Christianity in total, um, it’s not really rising a whole bunch in America. Where the church is growing is in Latin America, Africa, China, India. The fastest conversion rates are in Iran. And so what the homogenous unit principle’s done and the church growth movement has done is you have basically created “Amazon” churches, and then “mom and pop” churches and there’s really not a whole bunch in between.

Rich Birch — Yeah. Right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — And our church is a very large church, but our methodology for going ah about it is not a consumptive model. Like I believe that you can actually grow…

Rich Birch — Yes.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …healthily, without having to be pragmatic, and creating these bubbles of isolation.

Rich Birch — Yeah, love it. Yeah and and so this is a part of what I love about Transformation. This is why I love watching what your church does and pointing people towards you because I really do think that, and and maybe I’m just too pragmatic, but I love watching and trying to learn from what your church is doing to work this out practically.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Totally.

Rich Birch — To work out, okay, what is this… how how does this… how does the rubber meet the road on this? Because I think there are, unfortunately, there are a lot of leaders that are out there who are, like you say, we’ve been kind of baptized in the homogeneous movement, Even if we don’t know it…

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Mmm-hmm.

Rich Birch — …like even you know even if we don’t we’re not aware of it. That’s just that’s that’s been the dominant idea, but you know and I know that ah the church of the future is more diverse than the church of the past. It has to be. Like that we have to be more like the gospel. We have to work this thing out. Um, so what would you say you know I’m sure you have church leaders talk to you all the time.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Yeah.

Rich Birch — And you know ask the question, okay, so I’m I’m convinced you know I’m not resisting on ah, the you know the idea that our church needs to take steps increase steps towards diversity.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Yeah.

Rich Birch — And I’m not you know… I’m I’m with you on that, and they you come from a genuine place.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Yeah.

Rich Birch — What would be some of those steps that you would say, okay here are some some steps we should take towards that. What does that look like?

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Yeah, so the so the first one by way of illustration, when Wolverine got the adamantium put inside of him…

Rich Birch — I love it! Love it!

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …it changed and it it it changed it changed his DNA, right? So you have to have more than simply, I agree with the idea.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — The theological conviction that this is a gospel issue has to be the adamantium inside of you. Because if not, you won’t be strong enough.

Rich Birch — Right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — This is what I tell all my white pastor friends. If you’re serious about this, you’re going to lose 30% of your people in one year, so your theological roots had better be like the adamantium in Wolverine and so that’s why I wrote my book, How to Heal Our Racial Divide. Pastors can listen to our messages. We also have a roundtable called Building Multiethnic Church Round Table, like this has to be in you deeply. It can’t be like we’re not trying to have diverse churches because America’s more diverse.

Rich Birch — Right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — We’re trying to have more diverse churches because that is the outworking of the gospel of Jesus Christ. So that’s first. Secondly once you have those theological gospel convictions, your leadership has to reflect the congregation that you want to have. And when I say leadership I don’t mean like you know the one minority guy, if he’s black, you know he’s always on the urban team.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — You know he goes on because only black people live in poor, you know, and if he’s latino then he’s on the immigration team.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — But, you know, sharing the pulpit. Um executive pastors, administrators, small group pastors – so it has to be reflective in leadership that makes these decisions. Thirdly cross-cultural ah competency is so important. Let me give you an example. In my sermon from last week, I opened up with the story from Encanto. Encanto is a movie about latinos…

Rich Birch — Yep.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …we have latinos at our church. And what I opened up with is this, I said yes I’m Felix. I look like him. I’m Felix and everybody laughs. But one of the themes in the movie is we we don’t talk about Bruno.

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — And everybody’s like you had a laugh and I said well for most of our white brothers and sisters in Christ you were not taught don’t talk about Bruno, you were taught don’t talk about race. So I used a latino movie to bring out a point, right?

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — And so cross-cultural competency is understanding that Mexicans are not the same as Puerto Ricans.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Puerto Ricans are not the same as Cubans. Cubans are not the same as Venezuelans. And then you have various a… so so love means I’m willing to learn about your culture.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — And that’s what Paul did in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 … to the Jew I become a Jew, to the Gentile I become a Gentile. In other words, he understands their culture. So empathy and sympathy and saying, hey man I get you. I understand you. I feel your pain. And I believe that’s what Jesus did with the woman at at the well. She was a non-Jew. I believe that that’s what Jesus did when he told Jerryius you know, ah like I haven’t seen this much faith in all of Israel. Like cross-cultural competency. But here’s the hard part…

Rich Birch — Right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …and I want my white brothers and sisters to to hear this. When you’re the majority culture. It’s harder for you to listen to other people’s stories because you don’t have to.

Rich Birch — Oh that’s good.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Because because as the dominant culture, it’s like an elementary school when all the desks were pretty much right-handed desks.

Rich Birch — Right. Yep. Yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — But for left-handed people people was very hard to write…

Rich Birch — Yep. Yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …like they could write but it was very hard. So the right-handed people had right privilege.

Rich Birch — Hmm.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — And so majority culture people have privilege, meaning the world was created by them and for them, and so why listen? So it takes great depths of humility very incarnationally to listen to someone else’s stories. Like one of the one of the things that’s really frustrating as a 51-year-old black man is I shouldn’t have to defend that racism is still a problem. I shouldn’t have to like.

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — I shouldn’t have to like give a blood test and a lie ah, you know, ah ah, a lie detector test. I’m like no the statistics are here. But here’s what’s happened though, bro, is at our church we’ll have white families that adopt black kids, particularly black boys, and when they’re young, they’re cute and cuddly. But when they become teenagers, they become a threat. And then those same parents will say things like, we had no idea that it was this way. Our black adoptive son is treated much differently…

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …than our white ah adopted son. We had no idea. And I lovingly say how come you had no idea?

Rich Birch — Right, right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Black people have been sharing that with you for a long time.

Rich Birch — Long time. For your whole life.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Well what happened is the pain became approximate.

Rich Birch — Yeah. Yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Let’s not wait till the pain becomes approximate to be our brothers and sisters’ keeper, because that’s the gospel.

Rich Birch — Yeah, dude, I love this. A number of years ago I read ah Jim Wallis’s book, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and The Bridge to a New America, which in that he…I loved that book. It was fantastic and in that it one of the eye-opening… and this was one of in my own journey and these again I would say from thinking, wow like you’re pretty progressive to like you don’t know anything – you’re an idiot. Um in my own you know in my own life. He talks about very similarly he said, you know talk to ah as a challenge to a white guy. He’s like hey, talk to a black friend, black male friend, guy about the talk that his parents had about what happens when you get pulled over by a cop.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Mmm-hmm.

Rich Birch — And so a good friend of mine I talked to and had that conversation and it was an eye-opening experience. I was like I um was a little shocked by that. I was like I you know as ah as I remember I I don’t remember my parents ever telling me about what it was like to talk about cops, if we ever had that conversation, was like don’t be an idiot in speed. That was basically it. Um and and so yeah I I appreciate, you know, you pushing on that issue. That’s another great book for folks that may be looking to journey.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Yeah, you you know, and and also you know like you you have the police brutality. You know I I think those are the easier aspects of things that you see. What I’m what I’m trying to help the body of Christ with is particularly for the people who don’t who don’t think they’re prejudiced.

Rich Birch — Right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — You know they’ll say things like yeah well you can be my brother in Christ, but not my brother-in-law. Or you know like seminary, I…

Rich Birch — It’s messed up.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — I heard how great Jonathan Edwards was and George Woodfield, and they both condoned slavery.

Rich Birch — Right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — But yet Dr. King, who may have had affairs, was considered unsaved. But yet those guys who owned slaves well they were men of their times. I’m like no. Ah, William Wilberfors, John Wesley were abolitionists. Um, he you know? So it’s not been an issue of your time.

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — And then if a black man writes a book, it’s black theology.

Rich Birch — Right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — If a latino man writes a book, it’s latino theology. If a white man writes a book, it’s theology.

Rich Birch — Just theology. Yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Yeah, and so what I’m trying to do is show how in the gospel…

Rich Birch — Right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …our ethnic distinctions don’t need to be obliterated. They can be celebrated. That our ethnic differences actually make us different for the better. And that all of us, through the purifying blood of Jesus are equally declared righteous, so therefore when we look at each other we see the righteousness of Jesus and we treat each other accordingly.

Rich Birch — Right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — And that moves us to Philippians 2:3 – do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit but consider others better than yourself.

Rich Birch — Love it. Listen it’s funny you you mentioned Encanto because I… first of all I love the Felix, I love that! You know that you must get that…

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — It is true I am Felix.

Rich Birch — …and I like how he treats his wife you treat Vicki the same way. It’s so fantastic.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Um, yeah.

Rich Birch — Ah, but so with so much respect, which is great. But um, you know that’s an interesting that’s an interesting movie because I I watched it and I had this same similar kind of experience where I was like there’s a whole bunch of stuff happening in this movie that I don’t get at all that’s happening on a bunch of different cultural levels and I think is amazing. I’m like this is great. And it’s a kids’ movie, right? It’s a kids’ movie. But it’s you know, fantastic. What would you say to leaders who are leaning in to say hey, I want to grow my own cross-cultural competency. I I want to grow that – sure I I feel deficient in that area. I feel like hey there’s there’s you know something I need to grow and what what would you suggest to to them?

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — I would say read my book How to Heal Our Racial Divide.

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — That’s why I wrote it.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Cause ah readers are leaders, leaders or readers.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — And so I wrote this book for readers to become leaders and for leaders to read it to lead more effectively.

Rich Birch — Love it; love it.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Um, so that’s the first thing is it’s like ah you know about 29 years ago this week I was drafted by the Colts. So I had to learn the playbook.

Rich Birch — Right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Ah, couldn’t just go play I had to learn the playbook.

Rich Birch — Right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray —And so learn the playbook which is written throughout the bible, and you’ll begin to see as you read my book, you’ll begin to see scriptures and things you never ever thought, like how did I miss this? Well I think we miss it because the devil wants us to. And the teachers who taught it um oftentimes it was the most conservative seminaries that were holding the gospel that were the most racist. I mean could you imagine Dr. Tony Evans not being able to get into some schools? In 1980?

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …there was a church in Atlanta that wouldn’t allow him to be a member of the church.

Rich Birch — Yeah, that’s crazy.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — I get emails all the time just a few weeks ago um, some people who came to our roundtable, had people leave their church because the first two black people in the history of that church got baptized. So they left the church.

Rich Birch — Oh my goodness.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Yeah yeah, so um, so like really to grow in cross-cultural competency you have to read authors and people who’ve been doing that, and they’ll take you back to the bible and you’ll see insights. You know like Jesus…

Rich Birch — Love it. Right.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …I mean when he goes to Samaria that’s an exercise in cross-cultural competency. It’s an exercise in reconciliation. It’s an exercise in overcoming misogyny.

Rich Birch — What so ah yeah I want to make sure people are are pick up a copy of this book. So again, you you reference a name there. It’s How to Heal Our Racial Divide: What the Bible Says, And the First Christians Knew, About Racial Reconciliation – again this friends you should pick this up where books are available. Has there, now that the book’s been out for a while, have there been ah any kind of surprising interactions with it that either you’ve heard that are kind of interesting stories, that you know the impact could be positive or negative, ah that it’s had as you know as it’s been out there for a while now?

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Yeah, the the first one is montree college is using it as a textbook for one of their classes.

Rich Birch — Oh cool huh.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — So that’s pretty awesome.

Rich Birch — That is awesome.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Ah Pastor Rick Warren said over a hundred books in his library on the topic that mine is different in that it’s so biblical and gospel laden, but also with cultural awarenesses and practices. You know he says it’s the best that he’s ever read. Um I’m getting tons of feedback just from people going, this is what we need the church needs this the church needs this. We need this. More people need to read the book. And so it’s been overwhelmingly positive. For pastors who are interested at our Church, Transformation Church, we’re doing a series called color blessed where I’m working through some of the material material in the book because we’re discipling our congregation, and so you can listen to see how I do this. You know like I’m not writing from a classroom I’m writing with dirt under my fingernails from actually pastoring a multi-ethnic church, having a doctorate in new testament and so I just want to be helpful to the bride of Christ, because, man, the last six years has just really been embarrassing for Christians.

Rich Birch — It’s so true.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — And I want to lay this challenge out. We’ve got all these multisites, and all this stuff, and under our noses Q-anon fills the church. Christian Nationalism…

Rich Birch — Yeah, it’s so true.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …fills the church. Racial division…

Rich Birch — Yeah, yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …anti-vax, people arguing about masks. And we got all these campuses and all this stuff, but I’m goingh how is it on our watch that we are a part of the problem, not the solution?

Rich Birch — Yes, yes.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Like we like NASA we have a problem, and we’re looking at it in the mirror.

Rich Birch — Yes, look.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — So I just want to… I think we need a new reformation. And I hope my book is a part of that.

Rich Birch — Yeah so good. Yeah I agree. It’s interesting. One of the things I you know I end up doing is end up in churches, and you know in the current season their, you know, leadership is are often asking like what are you hearing? What are you seeing? And the Q-anon you know Christian Nationalist thing I reference that as one of the top 3 things that I’m like, this has this is an issue for all of our churches. It is ah, it is like a weed that is growing up around us that we have to, we can’t we can’t ignore we have to do something about.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Yes.

Rich Birch — And even if your church is not. It’s impacting your church even if you haven’t seen haven’t seen the evidence of it yet. It’s huge.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Well this is this is ah about, um oh gosh, probably four or five years ago I was on a podcast and I said to the podcaster, I said if you rarely preach about the sin of racism and racial injustice at your church racists are filled in your pews. And I got all the pushback. And then every one of them have come back and said yep, you were right. So within white evangelicalism a lot of these things have taken root…

Rich Birch — Yeah.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Because a lot of the messages are very individualistic. They’re very therapeutic.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — They’re very 4 ways to get over this five ways to get over this. It’s not a real expiration of Jesus, and what he’s accomplished. And then you’re taught don’t talk about race; don’t talk about politics. Don’t talk about controversial issues and while we’re being silent, News Max 1, Fox News, CNN, CSNBC…

Rich Birch — Yep, yep.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — …all these news channels are discipling our people and we’re wondering why if we say so something that Carlson Tucker doesn’t agree with they agree with Carlson Tucker instead of us.

Rich Birch — Yes.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Because we have been hirelings and not shepherds having difficult conversations. Last week’s message that I did is called how do we have color blessed conversations. What I meant is we’re not going to be “let’s don’t talk about Bruno” people. No, we’re going to talk about the issues in the framework of the gospel.

Rich Birch — Yeah, love it.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — And we’re gonna have four L’s love, listen, learn, and leverage.

Rich Birch — Mmm, love it. Listen, friends, who are you know, friends, who are listening in. I so in my role I get books sent to me all the time. This book was a book I bought with my own money because I want to support Derwin. I want to support what he’s done and have read it and found it challenging, and helpful, and biblical – all 3 of those things. This is the kind of book you read and it it draws you in and so I want to encourage you, and Derwin didn’t know I was going to do this. I’m not trying to make a big deal, I just want more people to read the book I want. I what I want to do is give away 10 copies of this that I’ll pay for directly. What I’d love you to do if you’re listening in is zip me an email. You know you get a lot of emails from me, if you’ve been listening long enough. You’ve signed up to our list. The first 5 leaders that reach out what I want to do is I’m going to buy you 2 copies under this condition: that you find another leader at your church and that you read it together, that you commit to reading it together. So it’s not like a lone thing. I want you and another leader to read this book together and then have a conversation about it. And I’d love to hear about it I’d love to hear how that goes so again first five people that email me look for that. We’ll send you those books. I would love to have that to hear you know how that conversation goes. And and for folks that aren’t there I would love for you to pick it up. So go to Amazon. It’s How to Heal Our Racial Divide by Derwin Gray. I’d love for for you to pick it up. Well Dr. Gray, I really appreciate you being on. Is there anything else you want to share just as we wrap up today’s episode?

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Yeah, yeah, yeah, you know what I would say to every leader that’s listening um is this is is Jesus is the greatest prize we could ever possess. That everything we could ever want is found in him. And some of you may be listening and saying well what does that mean? This is what I’ll say it means this the nearer you draw unto him, the clearer that answer will be. That everything we do and say will be fueled by his resurrection life. And so racial reconciliation is one aspect of what it means to be a disciple. And as you read this book, your love for Jesus, your love for scripture, your love for people, your love for yourself and his mission will grow exponentially. It’ll be healthy for you. And just know that I’m cheering you on. I believe in what God is doing in your life, and it’s an honor to partner with you all in the gospel.

Rich Birch — Well thank you so much, sir. If where do we want to send people online if they want to track with you or with the church which where do we want to send them online for that?

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Um, yeah, just go to – – that’s gray with an “a” and that’ll take you to everything.

Rich Birch — Great. Thanks so much – appreciate you being here today, sir.

Dr. Derwin L. Gray — Thank you.

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.