SENT: A Kingdom-minded Roadmap to Ethnic Reconciliation in America
In the wake of George Floyd’s murder, we asked each other, “How can we work together to bring healing to America’s ethnic division while also bringing glory to God?” Since then we developed a path of concrete steps that lead to unity using the acrostic “SENT.” The word “sent” is important, not only because the Father sent Jesus to show what God was like (Jn. 17:21-23), but also because Jesus has sent us to represent Him (Jn. 20:21).
S – START Foundationally
The first part of SENT is Start Foundationally. We don’t start with our current historical context or what we hear in the news, but with the foundation of God’s Story, His Kingdom purpose. We recognize that the work of reconciliation is spiritual warfare because we are joining Jesus in His work, the epic conflict between two Kingdoms cited in 1 Jn. 3:8: “the reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil.”
In the context of this epic narrative that God revealed from Genesis to Revelation, He is defeating the enemy by assembling a family from every tribe, tongue, people and nation (Rev. 7:9). We are being built into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus himself being the cornerstone (Eph. 2:19-22). This is the foundation from which we start. Then we can move to other steps.
E- EQUIP Historically
Next, we need to be equipped to know the historical context of our ethnic division, to be educated about our 400 years of conflict. This can be done through books, videos or seminars, so that we develop a shared understanding of our history.
Americans are in desperate need for more charitable dialogue skills. We live in an angry and dismissive culture that quickly cuts people out of our lives. Therefore, we need to be equipped to skillfully talk with those having a different point of view. By doing so, we equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the Body to maturity (Eph. 4:12-13).
All of us, whether Black or White, often feel helpless, caught in a loop where we can’t escape. But as we become better equipped in our history, and our ability to listen to one another, we can break the cycle. Anglos can better acknowledge the facts rather than deny, dismiss, or deflect them. African Americans can grow in forgiveness and pro-activity when tempted to be bitter or victimized.
N – NAVIGATE Incarnationally
The next step of SENT is to develop relationships with people of another ethnicity, to move beyond learning about history and see how it is lived out in another person’s life. This includes listening and learning from someone having a different life experience; growing in the ability to lament together. Just as Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us (incarnated), we need to enter into relationship by having lunch together, fishing together, watching movies together. This includes not just Black and White, but Hispanics and Asians too.
We have to go beyond reading books and listening to podcasts, as important those things are. We need to press into a friendship, to navigate incarnationally. Proverbs 17:17 says a friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity; this has proven true in our relationship.
T – TEAM Collaboratively
The last step of SENT is to Team Collaboratively. When the other steps are followed, seeds are planted that can lead to collaborative works of righteousness to the glory of God. As co-laborers with God, we discover together what He is doing in His Kingdom, and we join Him in that work (Phil. 1:27). As we do, reconciliation and unity become a byproduct of working together toward a common goal.
To be effective ministers of reconciliation, we need a common task. Examples include joint worship services or retreats, co-hosted outreach events, forming a volunteer team to go into a public school, doing prison ministry together, inviting international students to a potluck, or forming a church plant team to reach one of the many foreign-born people groups God has sent to our cities. Many good ideas will emerge if you ask God to show you.
One way we Team Collaboratively is through Reconciliation Fellowship, a quarterly, one-hour Zoom meeting of Black and White believers practicing this SENT model. We start from the Word, knowing this is spiritual warfare. We become better equipped historically while navigating incarnationally by establishing friendships in our meetings. We then urge people to meet in between meetings and explore Kingdom service together.
SENT: starting with a foundation of Kingdoms in conflict (S), becoming equipped in the historic facts (E), followed by navigating incarnationally with real people (N), and finally asking God, “where are you working and how can we join you in that work?” (T). If we do this together, the Church will demonstrate Biblical reconciliation to a hopeless world, proving that Jesus was truly SENT by God as the one true Savior.
You can sign up to join our Reconciliation Fellowship at www.completion.global/get-involved
Rickie Bradshaw is Pastor of First Southwest Baptist Church in Houston.
Rev. Don Allsman is CEO of Completion Global.