Recently, in the wake of the brutal murder of George Floyd, The Navigators made a statement standing in solidarity with people of color:
Perhaps, upon reading that statement you thought, “That’s nice that you feel that way, but what are you actually doing about racism and the need to ally more strongly with Black people, and all people of color for that matter?” This is more than just a fair question; it’s the right one to be asking. In the spirit of transparency, we would like to share with you some of the steps we have taken in recent years to empower people of color, both those serving on our staff and the disciplemakers within our ministries.
Before we begin, we want to strongly underscore that there is still much for us to do. This is by no means meant to be a self-congratulatory pat on the back, or to state that our work here is done. Rather, it is to show our commitment to people of color, to their spiritual growth and well-being, as well as to address head-on the racism in our world today.
The Steps We Are Taking
- Since 2016, all US Navigator staff have been required to go through an intensive cultural development process designed to teach us all more about racial and ethnic realities, opening a healthy dialogue for growth, reflection, and, in many cases, repentance.
- In 2006, The Navigators established the Kairos Fund to financially support the growth of ethnic minority staff and disciplemakers. This fund has distributed over $10 million over the past thirteen years.
- Our commitment to recruit and empower staff from all ethnicities has had a direct impact on our staff community. In the last 20 years, the number of ethnic minority staff in the US Navigators grew by 71% and currently make up 20% of our staff overall. In the last ten years, we have seen a dramatic increase of ethnic minority staff in leadership roles throughout the Navigators, helping to set direction for the future as well as addressing systems and processes adversely impacting staff of color.
- The Navigators has four ethnic networks—African American Network, Asian American Network, LaVida Network, and Native Nations Network—that aim to provide an avenue for ethnic Navigator staff and disciplemakers to connect with each other, celebrate their unique design, and empower them to lead and minister out of their unique, God-given identity.
- The Navigators has intentionally been expanding our ministry into increasingly diverse settings, including multicultural cities, places with large populations of refugees and immigrants, and socio-economically challenged neighborhoods (establishing Missions to ensure progress in the latter two contexts).
In Pursuit of Our Calling
The Navigators have always been called to advance the gospel of Jesus and His Kingdom into the nations through spiritual generations of laborers living and discipling among the lost. By “nations” we not only mean all the countries of the world, but also all the peoples of the world, all ethnicities, whether here in the United States or abroad. In pursuit of this calling, we have taken the steps above to move toward making The Navigators a better reflection of heaven as described in Revelation 7:9 (ESV) where there will be a multitude “…from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” As we stated above, there is still much to do, and by God’s grace this vision will become a reality.
EDIT [June 19, 2020]: We have added the following section to respond to some of the questions we have received on our social media profiles in recent weeks.
Navigator Responses to Recent Questions
Q: Does The Navigators support #BlackLivesMatter?
A: The Navigators strongly believes the truth that Black lives do indeed matter and stand with our African-American brothers and sisters against the violence and abuses inflicted upon them on the basis of fear, racism, prejudice, and flawed systems. However, we do not support all the many-faceted principles that are now a part of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Q: Why doesn’t The Navigators speak out more on social issues? Is it because they don’t want to lose donors?
A: The Navigators is called to a ministry of Life-to-Life disciplemaking, walking alongside all kinds of people, with differing opinions on a number of social issues, on their spiritual journey – leading them to know Christ, make Him known, and help others do the same. While making bold sweeping corporate statements on social issues can hinder our opportunity to engage “people in progress” and help them grow in Christ, we also realize that believers’ engagement with culture and injustice is a fruit of true discipleship and gospel transformation (Micah 6:8).
Since 1933, God has provided for The Navigators through the faithful and generous partnership of hundreds of thousands of people who support our work to advance the gospel. We trust God that, as we do what He calls us to do, He will continue to provide for us (Philippians 4:19).
Q: Your #BlackoutTuesday post included the ambiguous caption, “Listening. Lamenting. Repenting. Lifting up.” What exactly did you mean by that?
A: We are listening. All Navigators, regardless of ethnicity, must be listening to the voices of those who are hurting – especially those whose experiences are different from our own. In this hour, we want to be listening to our Black brothers and sisters, and to the voice of the Holy Spirit to guide us as people who can help to let justice roll down (Amos 5:24).
We are lamenting. When we see injustice in our world, we lament. We acknowledge the pain of those being hurt, oppressed, and have no voice, joining them in their grieving. We lament the murder of George Floyd and other Black men and women by the police and hate-motivated individuals over the years, along with those who have been impacted by systems of racism and bias (Psalm 10:17-18).
The Navigators have been learning to lament. At our recent National Staff Gathering, our National Leadership Team led all staff present in a time of corporate lament for our own sins and other attitudes where we dishonor God.
We are repenting. As with many issues of sin, one of our first reactions should be reflection. We have no right to confront others about their sins if we are not confronting our own sins. We must allow the Holy Spirit to cleanse us so we may learn to do good and seek justice (Isaiah 1:17).
We continue to grow into a deeper understanding and practice of corporate repentance. We are asking God to show us what attitudes, practices, and system must change in order for us to more fully embrace the beautiful diversity of God’s Kingdom (Revelation 7:9).
We are lifting up. Navigators believe in a big God. The challenges and problems in our world today require God-sized solutions. Ultimately, legislation and change in social systems won’t do away with the brokenness of our world. It is a matter of the heart. Navigators are called to lift this up in prayer. We pray for the end of racism in America. We pray for the end of racism in our own hearts, and in the hearts of those we serve. We commit to raise up disciples who are instruments of change as a result of gospel transformation (Luke 4:18-19).
Q: The Navigators have stated what they have done in the past, but what do you plan to do going forward?
A: As the Navigators have displayed in the past, we believe in the dignity and value of all people. We have a strong commitment for the Navigators to be a home to people from all backgrounds, where they can make the contribution God has for them. Our Life-to-Life disciplemaking must focus on raising up followers of Jesus whose lives and actions reflect the heart of Jesus. Discipleship that is not expressed in God’s heart for righteousness and justice is no discipleship at all. We want to raise up disciples of Jesus who eliminate any hint of racism from their hearts. This is in beautiful alignment with our Navigator core values of the dignity and value of every person, and love and grace expressed among us in community (John 13:34-35).
In the years ahead we also plan to expand on our commitment to provide excellent cultural development for all our staff. We will also grow in our development of leaders from all ethnic backgrounds who are culturally aware and skilled in working with people different from themselves.
We recognize that The Navigators as an organization has much room for growth in these areas. We are committed to taking next steps and continuing to move forward as learners and in humility.
We welcome feedback and dialogue in our comment section below. We only ask that you abide by our comments policy to keep the conversation constructive, productive, and civil. We thank you in advance for your thoughts.