Matt Chandler, pastor of The Village Church in Texas and the newly-installed president of church-planting organization Acts 29, recently shared in an interview with Christian hip-hop portal Rapzilla.com his heart for the "young black male" and how he hopes to address some of the tough issues he believes African-American males face when it comes to countering "white privilege" in the church.
Speaking with Rapzilla.com on Friday, Chandler primarily discussed his views on how God is using hip-hop music to change lives, but he also spoke a great deal about how he hopes to bring diversity to the Acts 29 Network, which has planted more than 400 churches on six continents since its founding 10 years ago.
Its transition of new leadership means Acts 29's base of operations will move from its current home in Seattle, Wash., to the Dallas-Fort Worth area, where Chandler's The Village Church is located in Highland Village, a predominantly white, suburban community.
When asked how he hopes to leverage his accomplishments as lead teaching pastor since 2002 at The Village Church to bring diversity to the Network, Chandler made it plain that his approaches would be realistic and true to the context and needs of those he hopes to serve.
Explaining that the majority of the congregation at The Village Church is predominantly white, upper middle class and white collar with the "two-car garage," Chandler said, "That's the world we live in.
"But what I want to do is leverage some of that privilege that honestly we don't see as privileged, we see as norm. I want to leverage that blessing from God in a way that helps and empowers other places (that) have not been given that to reach hard-to-reach people in hard-to-reach places and I want to spend our money well.
"But I want to create relationships where we're not... I don't want to bus white kids into the ghetto. I don't want to do it. I don't want to bus them in, let them paint the house, and then bus them back home -- I don't want to do that.
"I want legitimate partnerships where we're learning from our brothers and sisters in the urban context while we're supporting them. I want to help, and not just financially, but I want us to help in certain ways and then I want us to learn in certain ways, and then I want us to receive back what they have to teach us, and for us to celebrate what Jesus is doing in both places as we work together for the church."
Chandler, who revealed in the interview with Rapzilla.com that he attended a high school "in a predominantly African-American context," explained what the interviewer called the Texas pastor's "heart for the inner city man...the urban black male."
"I think that for me, my heart for in particularly the young black man who feels as though he's called to ministry but is struck with this tare in his heart because what he sees out there bothers him. What I mean by that is that it seems the two options -- and again I'm just a white dude talking -- it seems like his two options is '$10,000 suit and a jet plane' or it's to be viewed as kind of an 'Uncle Tom who likes the Puritans.' That seems to be his two options.
"I think that's a horrible place to put a young black man, to let these be his only two options. So what I want to try and create in A29 at The Village Church with our residencies is I want to create a home for young black men to be theologically educated and informed, trained in an environment that's friendly to culture and friendly and understanding of background and placement, train them, support them, empower them, and release them to plant Gospel-centered, Jesus-loving, Bible-preaching churches.
"I think to do that you have to address some things that make people very uncomfortable. You have to address white privilege, and white people don't know that there's privileges that we have because of our whiteness, so when they hear that they get real offended, like black people just need to get over the past and move on."
Giving an example of the disparities in resources and expectations he sees for his "white brothers" and his "young black brothers" who need funding to plant churches, Chandler concludes:
"I think you need to address that privilege and change the scorecard, you gotta change what the touchdown is and then you need to help people who have that privilege understand" the differences when it comes to church-planting in the suburb and in the city.
"I think for me, that my hear there is I want to bleed, sacrifice and create 'an unhealthy balance' towards the young black man who wants to plant churches, cares about the Word of God and wants to faithfully follow Him to plant churches."
The Village Church pastor and author took over leadership of the Acts 29 Network from Mark Driscoll in late March. Driscoll, whose Mars Hill Church in Seattle has primarily supported and funded Acts 29 since its founding, stepped down as president but remains on the organization's board of directors.
In an interview with The Christian Post in April, Chandler insisted that Act 29's vision would not change from uniting "Christian, Evangelical, Missional & Reformed churches, who, for the sake of Jesus and the gospel, plant new churches and replant dead and dying churches across the United States and the world."
"It's massive. I'm excited about seeing a lot of churches being planted all over the world," Chandler said at the time. "I just want to keep beating that drum … training and releasing men to plant churches all over the world … in the hard places, in the rural places, in the urban context, suburbia. I just have a passion towards that and love giving my life towards that end."
Chandler has helped grow The Village Church from less than 200 members to more than 5,000 since his tenure began, making it one of the largest and fastest growing churches in the U.S.