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City Church Summer Reading List *UPDATE*

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By: Whitney Nadeau

As school comes to an end and people begin to select their summer reading lists, take a look at the suggested reading below by the leadership of City Church.

*Update

We've added some titles to this list that might spur you on this summer. You'll likely recognize the themes present in these books as the ones we've been talking about and praying over this past year.

Summer 2019 Reading LisT

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
*End of update
 

The categories below are organized by City Church’s prayer points in 2018 and beyond.

As a church, we are praying to become sacrificially diverse (Rev. 7:9-10; Phil. 2:1-4) and theologically healthy (1 Tim. 4:16).

If you are interested in understanding what those prayers look like biblically or how we can begin to move in that direction, please select a few books below to read.  

Sacrificially Diverse

The Heart of Racial Justice: How Soul Change Leads to Social Change by Brenda McNeil

The Next Evangelicalism: Freeing the Church from Western Cultural Captivity by Soong-Chan Rah

White Awake: An Honest Look at What It Means to be White by Daniel Hill

Free at Last?: The Gospel in the African-American Experience by Carl Ellis Jr.

Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass

The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois

The Half Has Never Been Told: Slavery and the Making of American Capitalism by Edward E. Baptist

A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Divided by Faith: Evangelical Religion and the Problem of Race in America by Michael O. Emerson

Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart by Christena Cleveland

Theologically Healthy

Rooted: Theology for Growing Christians by J.A. Medders and Brandon Smith

None Like Him: 10 Ways God is Different from Us (and Why That’s a Good Thing) by Jen Wilkin

The Whole Message of the Bible in 16 Words by Chris Bruno

The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses by Chris Bruno

What Christians Ought to Believe: An Introduction to Christian Doctrine Through the Apostles’ Creed by Michael Bird

The Gospel: How the Church Portrays the Beauty of Christ by Ray Ortlund

As a church, we are also praying to intentionally multiply (Matt 28:18-20) and to do justice (Micah 6:8).

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Why Racism Is Hell on Earth

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The recent scenes in Charlottesville, Shelbyville, and our hometown of Murfreesboro were examples of real-life, in-your-face hell on earth.

As white supremacists marched down the streets with Confederate and Nazi flags, screaming racial slurs and hailing Hitler, we saw the antithesis of heaven:

You are worthy to take the scroll
and to open its seals,
because you were slaughtered,
and you purchased people
for God by your blood
from every tribe and language
and people and nation.
You made them a kingdom
and priests to our God,
and they will reign on the earth. (Rev. 5:9-10)

The tree of life was on each side of the river, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree are for healing the nations, and there will no longer be any curse. (Rev. 22:2-3)

This gathering of nations—from the Greek root word ἔθνος, where we get the word “ethnicity”—is what heaven looks like now, and gives a glimpse into New Jerusalem’s eternal population.

Eternity will not be white faces marching to destroy colors through the Nazi flag of death. Instead, it will be faces from every single hue being healed by the tree of life. Jesus’s blood has redeemed people from every ethnicity, and every ethnicity is and will be represented in God’s kingdom.

Regarding race and culture and nationality, diversity is heavenly; uniformity is hellish.

But this raises the most critical question: what should we do about it?

On the one hand, the most important thing has already been done. Ephesians 2 says that God is right now destroying racial and ethnic division through the cross.

White supremacists are not original.

We’ve seen this sort of evil and hatred throughout American history and the histories of nations throughout the world. They fancy themselves as revolutionaries and heroes, but they are stale, generic villains. The arc of history bends away from them.

Their legacy will be summed up in one word: defeat.

On the other hand, this has massive implications for Christians. Matthew 28:18-20 says that we’re called to make disciples of all nations.

I used to think of this as merely a call to “evangelism”—telling lost people about Jesus. However, it has become more and more apparent to me that this also must be paired with 2 Corinthians 5:11-21: Christians are ministers of reconciliation.

This ministry has countless implications, but a clear implication is this: making disciples of all nations and looking toward eternity, when all tribes and tongues will worship together, means breaking down walls of racial and cultural divisions.

As new creations, we are called to mirror eternity in this life. One foundational way to preview eternity is to intentionally seek justice and equality for people of every nation, tribe, and tongue. If there are no walls in eternity, there should be no walls right now.

First, then, we should admit our biases and blindness.

As Christians, we are fundamentally called to be humble, teachable, peacemaking, wall-smashing, ministers of reconciliation. So our first instinct should be to listen, not to shut our ears and throw out insults and dismissive platitudes.

If we can’t recognize that systemic issues in our land — a land whose unifying moments (Emancipation Proclamation, desegregation, voting rights, and Affirmative Action) were merely legal concessions and not intrinsically built into our foundation — then we’re just not ready to listen to those who feel the most hurt by it.

We don’t have to agree on every nuance or policy or logical conclusion, but there should be a baseline recognition of the apparent historical and ongoing separation in our country. The Christian call to pursue unity isn’t optional.

Don’t point the finger; lend an ear.

Second and relatedly, we should put this into action by not huddling up with people like us, waiting on God to sort it out later.

That would be easy. Instead, we should fight tooth-and-nail against the temptation to be comfortable and monolithic. The cross of Christ demands that we press on to the point of shed blood to love our brothers and sisters of all races and ethnicities.

Our churches should be as diverse or even more diverse than our neighborhoods (imagine Sunday morning at your church being the most diverse gathering in your neighborhood each week!).

Our dinner tables should likewise have regular seats filled with those who don’t look like us.

As Russell Moore so aptly puts it, in the fight for racial reconciliation, “We’re not getting anywhere if we gather in church with people we’d gather with if Jesus were still dead.” The death and resurrection of Jesus mean that sin and death are dead—taking hatred and division to hell with them.

To my white brothers and sisters: don’t merely post on social media about your frustration about race relations in our country.

Don’t let your actions be relegated to hashtags and retweets. True reconciliation happens around dinner tables and in marching lines. True empathy comes not only from watching another iPhone video but from putting your arms around someone whose skin doesn’t match yours.

True friendship comes not from a Twitter follow or a Sunday morning sentiment but from a lifelong commitment to co-suffering and co-laboring.

True love doesn’t happen with a half-hearted apology, but with an open mind to be an active part of the solution.

Though personal relationships are the most important, it would also help to read some books on race by black authors. Let their perspective help shape the narrative for you.

For example, read Life and Times of Frederick Douglass by Douglass and United: Captured by God’s Vision for Diversity by Newbell.

Racism is hell on earth. But we as Christians are called to pray for God’s will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

You may feel like only one friendship, or one conversation is a waste, but it isn’t. Nothing you do in this life is inconsequential.

God works through even the smallest steps, however awkward and heavy they may seem. As Dr. King said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Make your anywhere count.

Posted by Brandon D. Smith with

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