Questions and Topics for Discussion
1. 1. Have you studied the history of non-White cultures in America and how those cultures came to be here? If so, what books and articles have you read and what videos and documentaries have you watched about the history of those cultures prior to their forced migration?
2. Describe some of the books you have read, films you have watched, or art you have admired that was produced by individuals of a different ethnicity than yours.
3. Do you approach conversations of racial reconciliationas if you have all the answers? Do you approach those conversations with a willingness to be corrected? What do you think it looks like for participants to approach those conversations in humility?
4. Are you committed to leaning in to this book, to reading each chapter and answering the questions, even when it’s difficult?
2. 1. Is truth important on the Christian journey? Explain your answer.
2. Why do we sometimes try to suppress truth? What motivation might be at work when we avoid engaging with truth?
3. List at least two scriptures that call us to a common and shared memory of our faith.
4. Why is it important to be familiar with historical events?
5. List three historical facts related to our nation’s racial history that you learned outside school.
6. Why does the process of bridge building begin with awareness?
7. Discuss some ways we can become more aware of our racial history.
3. 1. Read Lamentations 3:22–23. How does God come to our rescue through mourning?
2. How is reconciliation linked to acknowledgment and lament?
3. What do you need to acknowledge as it relates to our racial history?
4. Was anything in this chapter new information for you? If so, please explain.
5. What are you currently lamenting related to our racial history?
6. What connections do you find between Deanna’s story and your own life?
7. Consider researching your family tree and discovering any role your ancestors played in systemic racism or abolition.
4. 1. Reflect on Ezra 9:5–8. Why was Ezra ashamed and disgraced for an act he wasn’t guilty of?
2. Have you ever been ashamed on behalf of someone else’s sin? If so, describe the situation.
3. What historical guilt was Ezra recalling in verse 7?
4. How can experiencing communal guilt be an opportunity to pursue righteousness?
5. Do you agree that as Christians, we bear a burden of guilt for the collective sins of our nation? Why or why not?
6. How do you handle personal feelings of shame and guilt? Do you allow yourself to feel the guilt and shame? Do you confess it? Or do you bury those feelings?
7. Reflect on your cultural upbringing. Were you raised in a more collective communal community or a more individualistic one? How was this evidenced?
8. How does your cultural background affect the way you process shame and guilt?
9. What purpose can communal shame and guilt serve as they relate to redemption and restoration?
5. 1. In Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Life Together, he wrote, “He who is alone with his sin is utterly alone. But it is the grace of the Gospel, which is so hard for the pious to understand, that it confronts us with the truth and says: You are a sinner, a great, desperate sinner; now come, as the sinner that you are, to God who loves you.” What does he mean about being utterly alone? And what changes when we embrace the grace of the gospel?
2. James 5:16 says, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” Why is it important for us to confess our sins to one another? How does this differ from confessing our sins to God?
3. Name some historical examples of confession leading to repentance. What about times in your own life?
4. One of the major fears about confession is wondering what others will think of us. What do you fear your confessions will lead others to conclude about you? How do you think others might respond to seeing the real you?
5. How is confession an application of the gospel? What scriptures support this belief?
6. If confession isn’t optional in our faith, why has the church found it difficult to confess its racist past in many cases? How could the church lead the culture and set the example in what confession as a step toward reconciliation can look like?
7. List specific historical injustices the US and other countries need to confess.
8. Describe a personal experience you’ve had with racism or colorism. How does that experience, or retelling it, highlight for you the value of confession?
6. 1. Name a time or two that you refused to extend forgiveness to those who hadn’t asked. What was your reasoning?
2. What are some ways that forgiveness has been demanded from the racially marginalized in our communities? List them and talk with a diverse group of friends about the short-and long-term effects of this expectation.
3. List three reasons forgiveness should never be demanded.
4. Do you believe forgiveness primarily benefits the person who has been harmed? Why or why not?
5. How do you know when you have forgiven someone for something?
6. Examine your life. What specific to racism, colorism, or other forms of prejudice and discrimination do you need to be forgiven for? Who might you need to call or visit and ask for forgiveness?
7. Now consider those you might need to forgive. Consider particularly those you might need to forgive for their participation in racism or structural privilege. Consider the Dylann Roofs of the world. Consider the Judge Gosnells of the world. Consider the well-meaning people who’ve been blind to structural privilege too, folks like Brooke Park. What would it look like for you to choose forgiveness?
8. Confession of sin by the perpetrators and forgiveness of sin by those who have been sinned against are both indispensable in the process of racial reconciliation. Discuss what you think would happen if either of these was lacking. What changes about the relational dynamic when both are present?
7. 1. What is your greatest hindrance or barrier to recognizing your own sin? How can you overcome it?
2. Why are we so often blind to our own sins but fully aware of the sins of others?
3. A. W. Tozer wrote, “Repentance is a wound I praywe may all feel.” What do you think Tozer meant by repentance being a wound?
4. In what ways might self-preservation or personal pride get in the way of your moving forward in racial reconciliation and repentance?
5. What are some of the realities we as a country need to repent of in the area of racial injustice? What would true repentance look like at an individual level? Within the local church? At a cultural or governmental level?
6. What is one thing you can do to make sure these conversations we’ve been having about race don’t stop with this book or this study?
7. What tangible acts of repentance do you need to make?
8. 1. How is the desire to make reparations, in the way Zacchaeus expressed, different from guilt? How is reparation related to the concepts of equality and equity?
2. What could reparations look like in the context of the racial dynamics of America?
3. For racial reconciliation to happen within the American church, what are some of the costs the majority culture will need to pay? What price will communities of color have to pay?
4. What is the risk of not making reparations?
5. What would reparations look like in your church? At your work? In your neighborhood?
9. 1. Restorative reconciliation, particularly in the context of racial reconciliation, is primarily about repairing relationships between the parties. Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Why or why not?
2. Who should take the first step in restorative reconciliation: the offending party or the wounded party? Explain your answer.
3. In the gospel of John, we see Jesus restoring both Peter and Thomas, both of whom had denied him in some way. What observations can you make about the way Jesus acted to restore the relationship with both?
4. What obstacles do you see to restorative reconciliation in our country, your state, your community, and your church?
5. What are some positive signs you’ve observed that confirm that racial reconciliation is possible?
6. Thinking through the previous chapters, where do you think the reconciliation process most often gets hijacked? Why do you think people so rarely make it to the work of restoration?
7. What personal relationship could you work to restore? Is there a specific systemic, structural, or governmental system that’s broken and in which you could engage to bring restorative reconciliation? Make a list of those relationships, those systems, those structures, or those governmental systems, and begin brainstorming ways to open restorative space.
10. 1. Historically, what are some ways the transmission of ideas and values has shifted cultures and communities?
2. Why does reproduction matter in the work of racial solidarity and racial reconciliation?
3. Take the time now to write a plan of reproduction, whether it’s starting your own Be the Bridge group, making a strategic plan of action after participating in a group, or simply sharing with a specific person what you’ve learned from reading this book. Remember that the work of reconciliation—work that we’ve been called to according to 2 Corinthians 5:11—requires a lifestyle commitment to reproduction.
4. How do you plan to help your friends, family, and church members understand the work of racial reconciliation? How do you plan to reproduce people who lean into that work?
5. List people you will follow on social media or books you will read to continue your learning, to help you along your own path to racial reconciliation.
6. What could reproduction look like for your church and community?