It’s easy and comfortable to talk with teenagers about movies and memes but conversations about racism have us praying that someone else will put of their hand. The reality is though that the conversation is happening all the time on social media, in friendship circles and within the minds of this generation. There is a need for the local church and specifically, the youth ministry of the church to lead in this area otherwise the dominant voices in society will be shaping the thought life and actions of our youth.

Where to start?

It’s cliché sounding but it does start with you.

Lisa Nopachai and Kat Armas identify 4 Spiritual practices for the journey towards anti-racism giving us a helpful start for personal reflection. They comment:

“Wherever we are in the journey, it’s important that we centre ourselves in spiritual practices to help us engage in the pursuit of Christ-centred anti-racism. Research shows that young people are more likely to exhibit positive, responsible behaviour when they have parents and other adults in their lives who model positive, responsible behaviour. And as leaders, we are better equipped to help young people on their journey towards anti-racism when we are engaging in our own transformative journey.”

As they say it’s a marathon and not a sprint, so you’ll need to set aside a few hours to work through the guided reflection questions. Time which we must be willing to give if we desire to lead young people effectively in our Southern African context.

A helpful conversation

Scripture Union South Africa recently held a series of Webinars for those walking with young people, one of which focussed on ‘anti-racist discipleship’. If you need help understanding some of the key issues around racism and what the Bible teaches, then the below webinar is worth a listen. The webinar is structured as a conversation between Ayanda Nxusani, MA student in historical violence and trauma, and Keegan Davids, the Parish youth pastor of St. Johns Parish, Cape Town.

Creating space

From you to your youth.

So how can you explore the topic of racism with your youth? Fuller Youth Institute have developed an excellent resource entitled: Talking about Race with Teenagers: A Youth Leader’s Guide. Ahren Samuel comments:

“Listening to students share their stories and cultural experiences is how we learn from one another. We can’t know what we don’t know and we can’t honour our students’ truly authentic selves without stepping into their lives, neighbourhoods, and families in order to get to know them holistically. Their family immigration story, their neighbourhood’s history of abandonment or gentrification, their single-parent or mixed family home life, their experiences of racism, their access to healthy food, their prior church experiences—these are just a few things that form our students’ stories, and it is important to understand and interface with these different parts of their lives.”

Before you go

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us (1 John 4:7-12).