Why I Stay

I am Christian.

I am Black.

I pastor a church in the Southern Baptist Convention.

And I am not done with white evangelicals. 

I am staying.


Over the last four years, there have been various headlines about Black and Brown Christians leaving white evangelical churches. From individuals to artists to pastors with entire churches – many have chosen to leave. And I understand why.


I can’t tell you how many times I have longed to escape the tensions, cultural differences, perpetual loneliness, and painful conflict that comes with staying in these spaces. Being the ethnic minority is hard enough – but when you add the challenges of divisive politics, systemic racism, and differing core beliefs – it can feel impossible. Not to mention the immense pressure for minorities (by minorities) to leave majority white spaces (Christian or not) in order to build up and focus on our own ethnic group. And then, when you add in the grievances and harm that minorities experience in majority white spaces, staying just seems plain foolish.


I know this struggle intimately. I live this struggle daily. 


Staying is painful. 

Staying is lonely.

Staying is frustrating and overwhelming and isolating.


However, leaving comes at a high cost.


How do we bring healing to a world when we cannot find healing with one another?

How do we effectively leverage our resources if we are divided?

Systemic change requires more than individual effort – we need to be united to see transformation. 


Leaving might be easy. But it is costly.


This is why I stay. 


I stay because of conviction – not convenience. I believe that we are better together than we are apart. That we can better change the system from within. That we can be more missionally effective if we are united together. That we can fight more effectively for social justice if we are united across ethnic and social barriers. 


I stay because I believe if we can’t have unity within the church then we have nothing to offer the world. I stay because Christianity (and my own deeply held convictions) believe the good news of Jesus’ atonement brings people of every ethnic group to Jesus. I believe Jesus unites people with one another (Ephesians 2:14). God has made his plan clear. He loves diversity. He created it. And his plan is for us to experience unity with diversity (Revelation 7:9).  


I stay because when I am immersed in a majority context, God uses my white brothers and sisters to show me cultural blindspots and help me grow through exposure to friends who are different from me. 


I stay because, in an already fractured nation, unity is what people are most longing for – and I don’t believe unity is found in breaking up into smaller tribes and silos of people who look like us, act like us, and talk like us. 


I stay because I refuse to be forced into thinking that leaving is the only way to avoid becoming a sellout. 


I stay because I believe that there is beauty in brokenness and that reconciliation and unity are worth the cost.


I stay because I believe the church is not like family – it is family.


If you are like me, feeling called to stay but struggling with the loneliness and struggle, I want to encourage you. By staying in the tension, we join a long history of Christian minorities who found themselves as sojourners among their own people yet were unwilling to leave the fight (read about Fannie Lou Hamer for a great example of this). No matter how lonely it gets, we are not alone. We are part of this history.


But beyond that, we are not alone today. The extreme voices are often the loudest, but the truth is, many other minority Christians are choosing to stay, unwilling to compromise their convictions or their heritage. 


They are staying with the fullness of their prophetic voices. They are staying with the totality of their experiences and the depth of their views as minority people in this country. They are staying in spite of the struggle. They are staying because of the struggle.


In the coming weeks I am going to have several conversations with minorities who are choosing to stay in majority white spaces, and I’d like to invite you into these conversations. 


I want you to know you can stay too. You can be offended and keep your seat at the table. You can disagree with your whole heart and stay with your whole voice. You can be who God is calling you to be and you can live out that identity in the spaces he calls you to. 


Reconciliation doesn’t have a single strategy. Healing isn’t one size fits all as different wounds require different remedies. Bridges are built in many ways. 


You are not a sellout for choosing to stay. 

You are not alone in your choice.

The reconciling power of the gospel is at work through us. 

There is beauty to be found in the brokenness of these spaces.

There is hope here, too.


This is why I stay.

Ready to take a deep dive? Join the City Syllabus today  to get access to encouraging community and effective content so you can thrive where you live, work and worship.

Join the Conversation.

Get the latest on ways you can grow in making disciples where you live, work, and worship!

Share this post with your friends

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *