For today's entry in the Friday Five interview series, we catch up with Trillia Newbell. Trillia Newbell is a freelance journalist and writer. She writes on faith and family for The Knoxville News-Sentinel, and serves as managing editor for Women of God Magazine. Trillia is a frequent contributor to publications such as Desiring God, True Woman, The Gospel Coaltion, and The Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. Newbell has two forthcoming books published by Moody Publishers.
Today we catch up with Trillia and discuss diversity in the Church, reformed theology, and how church leaders can best serve busy moms.
As an African American woman in a biracial marriage, you've written on the importance of diversity in the church. What are some initial steps pastors and church leaders can take in creating this kind of environment?
That's a great question and honestly one that I am still exploring. But I think that the pursuit of diversity—and all things really—begins with a heart change. In other words, we must see the benefit of diversity as it relates to God's Word. God says that we are all created in his image. James rebukes partiality. Jesus commanded us to go make disciples of all nations, and Revelation gives us a glimpse of the last day where all tongues and tribes will worship together. Though these are only a few references, it is clear that God values diversity. Do we?
From there, pastors and church leaders can begin by relating—whether through hospitality or guest speakers—to those unlike themselves. This will send a message to their congregations. People are watching to see what their leaders are doing, and though we can and should pursue others regardless of what our leadership does, the truth is we watch, learn, and emulate them. So if the pursuit of diversity is important to a leader or pastor, they need to actively pursue it themselves. They'll be amazed by the effect on their church environment.
I'm going to flesh this out in my upcoming book, tentatively titled United: Captured by God's Vision for Diversity (Moody, March 2014).
You're a part of the Reformed African American Network. Is reformed theology making a comeback in the black community?
Jemar Tisby, co-founder of RAAN, recently introduced me to the research of Eric Washington. He is researching the rich history of African Americans and Reformed Theology, specifically Calvinism. His findings date back to the 1700s, and it appears mainly in the Baptist faith. So the question of whether it's making a comeback is a good one. But I don't know that there is evidence of a widespread resurgence of Reformed thought within the Black church.
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