The Future Is Here

EP.4: The Reconciled Church w/ Efrem Smith

June 09, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4
The Future Is Here
EP.4: The Reconciled Church w/ Efrem Smith
Chapters
The Future Is Here
EP.4: The Reconciled Church w/ Efrem Smith
Jun 09, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4

In this episode, our guest Dr. Efrem Smith breaks down how the Evangelical Church has orphaned reconciliation away from repentance and restorative justice. Everything changes when we understand that there's no reconciliation, unity, nor right relationship with God and others without repentance and restorative justice. It's a great cost to be a reconciler, to truly repent and say yes to the work of restorative justice. Though it is part of the gospel, people may call you a Marxist, a Socialist, and exile you from Christian orthodoxy just for doing what is biblical!  But God calls us into this great work. Now more than ever, we need individuals to lead in this manner. It's time to build a new church with the theology of repentance, reconciliation & justice at its core.

Support the show (https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/WebLink.aspx?name=E12333&id=12)

Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, our guest Dr. Efrem Smith breaks down how the Evangelical Church has orphaned reconciliation away from repentance and restorative justice. Everything changes when we understand that there's no reconciliation, unity, nor right relationship with God and others without repentance and restorative justice. It's a great cost to be a reconciler, to truly repent and say yes to the work of restorative justice. Though it is part of the gospel, people may call you a Marxist, a Socialist, and exile you from Christian orthodoxy just for doing what is biblical!  But God calls us into this great work. Now more than ever, we need individuals to lead in this manner. It's time to build a new church with the theology of repentance, reconciliation & justice at its core.

Support the show (https://interland3.donorperfect.net/weblink/WebLink.aspx?name=E12333&id=12)

Speaker 1:

Are you listening? Hey fam . Welcome to the features here, podcast . This is for the leaders, the dreamers provocateurs misfits, the frustrated frontline leaders who are charging in the kingdom for tired of reactive church. It's time to build the church we dream of. Now the future is here. So don't get left behind. Are you listening? Let's get into it. What's a family. Tommy Nixon here with another episode of the future is here podcast with DUI DWI . I'm extremely excited about this episode. We have the Reverend doctor F from Smith on the line with us today. And I'm excited about this today. We're going to be talking about the reconcile church . Now I want to set up the , the conversation before we get to a , to F from , uh, we, we look at as the future of the church as we are looking at what type of church , uh , do we hope for in the future? And one of them is the reconciled church, a church that's reconciled in all forms of that, of that word. And what does that look like? However, as we think about this and I was talking with F from a little bit earlier, reconciliation as a term, especially in the church has been a widely misunderstood. And so I'm excited to get into this conversation today with the Reverend doctor , uh, F from Smith and so Efram , thank you so much for being on our show. Uh , thanks for being here, brother. How you doing, man? I'm doing good. I'm with you wide WWI . So I feel like I should do something like, I don't know, old school hip hop, like, let me clear my throat. I'm with the family. This, this is beautiful. Hey man , let it go. So we, I mean, we're so excited to have you here now. FM is an O G and our movement, man. We give a lot of respect. Uh , you might be, I would say the goat of conference speakers at the UIW conference . Now I'm just going to put it out there. You don't have to say nothing. You could just receive it. I know I'm going to get a call from Albert Tate later, but , uh, that doesn't matter, man. I've always enjoyed every single time you've gotten up and just exhorted us with the word of God, man. Thank you so much, bro. Okay , well we'll just let me be a magic Johnson and we'll let Albert Tate be Isaiah Thomas. We're going to have to have a whole nother podcast for that brother . We can get to both of you guys on and that'll be awesome, man. So we , um , were again so excited about this conversation. And so we were talking a little bit earlier for a man. I just want to jump into it about this term of reconciliation and you put a , you put me on some game, you're like, Oh, let's go back to the seventies, the eighties the night. Can you, can you share a little bit about , um , this understanding of the ministry of reconciliation? The history of it can like put some of us younger cats , um, on game about what all that is so that we have a framework and then we can talk about, well, do we need to do about

Speaker 2:

moving that forward in the future? Well, reconciliation , uh, really , uh , though it is, you can, you can definitely start with the Bible because that's where the word, the term reconciliation , uh, is, is used first for followers of Christ is in scripture. But in terms of reconciliation , uh , being a word that that is , is used as a response for the church in around the issue of race and racism, racial division within the body of Christ. You know, for me, you know, I heard reconciliation preached taught , uh , in the 1980s , uh, listening to speakers, such as , um, Tom Skinner , uh , Samuel Heinz , uh, John Perkins. So, you know, Tom Skinner was an African American , uh , evangelist. Uh, he, you know, he, many people would say he was the African American, Billy Graham , uh , in many ways. And so Tom Skinner , uh, and, and dr. John Perkins of CCDA and John Perkins foundation in Jackson, Mississippi , uh, pastor Samuel Heinz , uh , who , uh , was a pastor in Washington, DC , uh , in the church of God , uh , denomination followed by dr . Cheryl Sanders who followed him , um, in pastoring , uh , I want to say it was third street church of God or something like that. I'm saying the name wrong, but , uh, but dr. Cheryl Sanders , you know, and then, you know, more recently, you know, dr. Brenda Salter McNeil , uh, these are the people that really influenced me , uh, around the , the term, the ministry of reconciliation. Uh, there w back in the day in the eighties, and I think into the nineties, there was even a magazine that dr. John Perkins , uh , put out called the reconciler. And , um, and , and , and then you had , um, you know, his son, Spencer Perkins, who , uh, uh, passed away , uh, really at the prime of his writing and teaching , uh, on, on the ministry of reconciliation, this idea that we could forge unity, that we could build bridges, that we could forge ministries that looks like heaven. The problem is that even gelical ism loved the part of reconciliation that talked about unity, that talked about love , uh , that talked about the importance of the gospel that talked about Jesus as a reconciler, but for some reason , um, evangelicalism couldn't digest as well. The focus on justice and the focus on repentance , uh, the focus on , on restoration, because the , the major book where dr. John Perkins talks about reconciliation is one of the three R's of Christian community development. The book is called with justice for all. So the title of the book that lays out reconciliation by dr. John Perkins, who you could say is like the forefather, you know, in terms of like a popular preacher writer movement leader, in terms of the ministry of reconciliation, his primary book named in the top 100 books of, of, of the 20th century , uh, with justice for all. I mean, for some reason , uh, we haven't been able to fully grasp, and I'm talking about the evangelical segment of the body of Christ, cause I'm both a product of the black church and a product of evangelicalism and evangelicalism , um , has struggled with digesting that reconciliation it's nutrients , uh , include not just , um, not , not just , uh , unity , uh, but also justice and repentance,

Speaker 1:

man . That's so good. I know, I feel like we haven't talked about this earlier as well. You know, you have a , we keep on talking about this, the church, our future , you have a million young people leaving the church every year and they're leaving because you know, some of the research on that they're leaving because they're not compelled by the life they see, and with everything going on, right. Even from, from your hometown, Minneapolis, that is on fire right now, you have all these young people go, you're trying to give me this gospel, but that your gospel that you're giving me a reconciliation even does not make sense in light of what we experienced in the world. And, and so I believe the church of the feature has to reconcile, right, this understanding of what does the full gospel look like. And I love even in that second Corinthians five, you know, that's where we get this whole ministry of reconciliation piece that when it talks about the righteousness of God , uh, that, that it's in Spanish, and then you share it in , in Hebrew as well. It's the justice of God. That's, there is no two words for that justice and righteousness in the original language is justice. The righteousness is justice. And so you shared a little bit with me and I would love if you share a little bit more for our leaders to understand , uh , you know, to reframe the, a full gospel of what that looks like of

Speaker 2:

repentance, right. And, and then restoration, did I get that right? That's right. Yeah. Share it , share a little bit more about that. Yeah. So let me, I'll say that there are three components in understanding the fullness of the gospel, repentance, reconciliation, and restoration. Now all of this is done through Christ Jesus. Um, so ultimately the work of reconciliation is done by Jesus. Jesus is the great reconciler. So , uh, let me say something that we didn't say when we were talking before, before we , uh , went on here , uh, in, in this, in this platform , um, let's talk about this great reconciler Jesus in what human package did, the son of God, the Messiah, the savior come , the savior could have came in the human form of the most powerful as Herod as an emperor as, as the leader of the Roman empire. But that's not the form in which the savior, the King of Kings came. He came as the Israelite, Palestinian Brown skin, marginalized oppressed one. I mean, Jesus is born and the powers start killing babies that look like him. And so he's born into poverty, he's born into suffering and oppression. And then because of terrorism, upon babies that look like him, his family, his earthly family, has to cross the border. So he's , he's, he experiences the life of the refugee of the undocumented. Uh, he grows up , uh, uh , raised by a man with calloused hands and he recruits people that are the second class. He demonstrates and declares the kingdom of God amongst the despised, the poor, the demonized, the left for dead, the , uh , uh, women that have been subordinated , uh, and put in second class positions that if a woman participates in adultery, the man gets a pass. She gets stoned to death. It's in that context in which Jesus reveals himself as savior and goes to the cross. So the great reconciler on his route to crucifixion and resurrection lives the life of the oppressed of the marginalized of the one who is the, the, the, the object of injustice. And , and so that's important to understand that God, the incarnation happens in suffering in oppression, in marginalization. So Jesus is the great reconciler

Speaker 3:

[inaudible]

Speaker 4:

if you like what you're hearing, keep listening, but also make sure to check out our newest leadership resource, the leadership journey, by hitting up our website, a UI wwi.org .

Speaker 2:

Now let's go to this Tribune understanding and why we can't isolate reconciliation by itself. So the , the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus creates a great opportunity for sinful humanity, an opportunity to repent, to take responsibility for being a sinner, to then give ourselves to reconciliation, to not only be reconciled to God in Christ Jesus, but to become a reconciler. And because we know as you've already laid out that biblically, there's a deep intersection between justice and righteousness. That means to be a follower of Christ to mature as a disciple is to love mercy walk, humbly do justice. So one of the reasons that millennials and the next generation behind them are having a tough time believing in the relevancy of reconciliation as a revolutionary , um , demonstration of the good news is because we have bifurcated. Since you said, I had a doctrine , I better talk like bifurcated reconciliation. We have orphaned reconciliation away from repentance and restorative justice. But when we understand that there truly is no reconciliation, no unity, no true right. Relationship with God and no right relationship with each other without repentance and restorative justice. And let me say this last thing, and then I'll , I'll , um, I'll pause on this part is how do I know that you can't truly be reconciled to God and live into your citizenship in God's kingdom without being about justice? How do I know this? Because Matthew 25 concludes by Jesus saying the kingdom of God is like this. There's this King of Kings who brings all the nations before him. He separates them like a shepherd separates sheep and goats starting at verse 31. He says, I was hungry. You gave me some need . I was thirsty, gave me something to drink. I was naked and you clothed me. I was in prison, came to see about me. I sick. And you tended to me, I was a stranger. And you invited me in. And people said, say, when did we see you hungry and feed you thirsty, give you something to drink naked and clothe you sick and tend to you a stranger and invite you in incarcerated and come see what we do that. He says, you've done it to the least of these brothers and sisters of mine. You've done it to me. You don't even experience right relationship with God. If you're not doing justice towards the most vulnerable, dr. Tim Keller said it better than me. He's like the reason the Bible talks about justice is not because the rich need it. The rich have figured out how to manipulate the justice system to their favor. When you read about justice in the old Testament, it's saying stuff like, Hey, this is justice. Stop, stop bribing people. So that the justice system favors you. What we know that's talking about rich people, because poor people don't have the resources to bribe anybody. That's what dr. Tim Keller talks about. He , he says, we know the reason that that justice is talked about in the Bible is not because primarily poor people were unjust. They were the objects of injustice. And it was the people of power with wealth that had the means to manipulate justice, to manipulate every institution, every system, every ideology, every, every, every decree and command from God, they could manipulate it and twist it to their favor because they had power. And so reconciliation has to include the privileged, the most powerful repenting taking responsibility and , uh , giving their lives to restorative justice. And it sounds like Jesus is saying in Matthew 25 is you can't even enter my kingdom if you don't get that.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. So here , here, I love all the, and I love how you frame it from, and here's, here's what I want our leaders that are listening to this to understand just from what you shared, which was so rich is that one, if you're coming from the hood and you coming up and you're, you're part of an oppressed people group, like Jesus is for you. This is, this is what is couched in. And that, and that Christ is really called. These are the disciples. And so, so often we feel like I re you know, engage in so many leaders that just feel like, Oh man, we have no money. Like no one respects us. Like, you know, the mega church overlooks us or whatever it is. But, but yet this is you are God's plan. And I really believe that our leaders are the tip of the spear for this next renewal of the church. As the Holy spirit continues to renew the church. He is chosen leaders, just like those of you who are listening to this that are, are in urban areas that are in areas of suffering, that, that it's, it's up to us to, to actually build up this next generation. That's going to be leading the church of the future. And so one, I just, if you're listening, I want you to understand how important you are in the, in the plan of God's kingdom and that's first. And then second, as you talk from , I go, man, I would love to see a whole church like that, that, that had that understanding. And so if you're a leader out there and you're listening to this, I want you to, if you're not already thinking, and these frameworks, I want you to grab hold of that and , and start to press into that, have FMS written on this. He , he named a bunch of authors. He's named the elders that have gone before us that have written about this, that have shaped it. And we need as that next generation, those behind me, we need to be able to , to take that, learn from it and continue to give that to this next generation. What you just described Efram is the exact gospel that this generation desperately needs to hear and understand. Um, and so in that you've been in this game for a long time, been living this out for a long time. Um, what would you say to some of our leaders that are, they want to , they want to live that gospel share that gospel. They want to be in the work of reconciliation and in this work and that, you know, the three things you said, repentance, reconciliation restoration as a full gospel, what would you share just to encourage, or , or maybe some, some tips in your years of living this out in a lot of different spaces, a lot of different multiethnic spaces , um , a lot of space in the kingdom, one this wasn't being talked about, but you were preaching it. What would, what advice would you give to some of our leaders go because reality is it's hard work, right? Can you speak a little bit to that?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. Well, I'll start by saying it's hard, but it's not as hard as you think. So let me give you a, not so hard example of how anyone watching this, listening to us right now can do justice walk, humbly love mercy. Um, one of the ways that the prison system , uh, expands is that they look at the third through fifth grade math and reading scores of kids in under-resourced public school systems. So there is a formula that , uh, has been devised that if, if kid is not at grade level in math and reading between the third and fifth grade, there is a great probability that they will be incarcerated. But if kids in urban, under resourced communities are at grade level in math and reading by third grade and at fifth grade, they're still holding steady doing well. It opens the gateway to college to a university degree. I'm going to assume that all the urban youth leaders, all the ministry leaders listening here watching us can read and do math at the third grade level. So that's a justice opportunity right here. You adopt the closest elementary school in an under-resourced urban community to your church, to your ministry. And you start a tutoring program. You start a summer math and reading program. You turn a room in your church into an afterschool center, and you read with kids and you listen to them read, and you lovingly correct them. When they get the word wrong, you help them with their sentence structures. You help them with their addition in their subtraction. Um, and all of a sudden you are dismantling the pipeline between their community and prison. My God. So, so I think we gotta reduce justice work to the lowest common denominator, the lowest hanging fruit opportunity. Another thing you can do is , um, you can , um, not just , um, I would say not just , um, be a consumer of black and Brown culture, you can actually build relationships if you're, if you're a white brother or sister and you do not have black and Brown people , uh , if you do not have Asian American speaking into your life in a way that shapes your spiritual maturity, your walk with God , uh , if people of color , um, that have the experiences of the marginalized that know Jesus, just like you are not helping you rediscover Jesus rediscover the mission of the church. You're selling yourself short you're. You're hindering yourself from participating in the great commission. So it's , it's not that hard to step into the work of justice. And you will become a more justice oriented follower of if you let those who have been deemed, the marginalized have had, had bore the brunt of the oppressed and the marginalized. If you let them , uh , be your modern day, Sunday school teachers allow them to be your spiritual directors to , to really be your brother and your sister and your friend , uh, that part's not hard. And if you get that part, now, it just comes to it's a heart issue. Now, do you have the heart to repent? Because that's the other part? Um, Nehemiah is a great example. Well , this, the book of Nehemiah begins with one who is Hebrew, but is privileged. He's working for the King. He's in the white house. He he's got a pretty good job in the government. You know, the government pays good. He got time. And PAC is working for the government is good, good government job. As my grandpa would say, good government job. And so he hears that Jerusalem is in ruins. This is like, here in Minneapolis is on fire. But you know, when Nehemiah hears that the city's on fire, he doesn't tweet those thugs, those animals down there burning their own city. What's wrong with them? What's wrong with these angry people? Why are they burning their own community? What kind of response is that?

Speaker 5:

Yeah ,

Speaker 2:

what Nehemiah did is he , he started to cry and weep and he prayed. And in his prayer, he did something strange, at least strange for American Christians. He repented to God for the city of Jerusalem being in ruins, but he didn't do it. He could have said, I didn't do anything in Jerusalem. Like I didn't own any slaves. I, I wasn't, I didn't participate in Jim Crow, segregation. I don't know nothing about red lining. I didn't create ghettos. He didn't say any of that. He repented on behalf of his parents and grandparents. He repented on behalf of those that came before him. That actually, he, he even recognized I'm , I'm reading between the lines he recognized. The reason I think that Nehemiah was so repented is he knew that his people before him had participated in why the city was in ruins and he knows he benefited from it. Wow. He's like one of the reasons I have this good government job because of the ingest systems and structures, the idolatry, the counterfeit religion, the false religion around me. I actually benefited from it. I actually got a good job. I got a good guy . I got a good retirement. I worked for the King. And so what he did is he used his power and his privilege. And he went to the King. He risked his reputation and his life like Esther . He went to see me . We need more Nehemiah's and more esters, you know, amen. We need less Judas, less Pontius , pilot, less Herod . And we need more esters and more Nehemiahs Nehemiah. He used his power, his privilege, the benefit that he had attained to get resources, to go and build a team. And he took hits for it. There were other government officials, Sam Bilott that talked about him, that, that turned their backs on him that tried to do him in . So it's a great cost to be a reconciler, to truly repent and to truly say yes to the work of restorative justice though, it is the gospel. People might turn the back on you. People might call you. I don't know, they got terms for people that do justice now. I mean, I don't know when people say yes to justice, instead of saying, that's a good Christian, they call him a Marxist and a socialist and they say, they're not godly. And it's unbiblical and they're liberal and they're humanist. And they got , you know, they, they got a bunch of , uh, terms that gets you exiled from Christian orthodoxy, just for doing what's biblical nowadays. Well, I mean, help us, help us understand how have you, how have you walked through all that effort? Cause I feel like you've done it. And we've been watching you, I've been watching you for a long time brother. Like it's just seems like you've, you've been able to walk in that tension for a really long time. And I even talked to you today. You're not all bitter, you know, I think you're angry at times. I've seen that and I feel that's been righteous anchor . And, but how have , like, for some of our leaders that are walking this out , um, how have you been able to, to continue to, to stay in that space , um , and to move forward? Yeah , I mean, if I'm, if I'm transparent here, I'm a product of the black church and there are moments when I dearly dearly miss the black church, I miss the freedom, the, the, the, the, to not have to , um , try five or six times to explain what I really mean. What's really on my heart to not go through being MIS, misinterpreted and misrepresented , um , uh, to be fully me , uh, that, that definitely weighs on me at times. Uh, and, and , um, and I, and I, and it's why I stayed connected to the black church. It's why I have African American, Apple systolic leaders, men and women who speak into my life and mentor me and coach me , um , because I need that to stay true to my calling. I would say this , um, I , I know that a significant part of my call is , um,

Speaker 6:

okay .

Speaker 2:

Serving , um, it's, it's , um, working to build, grow thriving, flourishing ministry that looks like the eternal kingdom in which we're going to live to be a sneak preview of heaven. There is still a great need for the African American church. As long as racism exists, we need African American churches as , as long as, as my Brown brothers and sisters are stereotyped as gang members and, and thugs , um, is as long as we see images of Brown children in cages, we need Latino, Latina, Hispanic. We need Brown churches , uh , that will claim their liberation heritage. Um, so I am not saying we need to pull the plug on. I mean, if you walk out the doors of your church and you, and, and, and you see a predominantly black or Brown or Korean or mung community, you should be the best mung, the best Korean, the best, African-American the best Latino, Latino church you can possibly be. Um, but at the same time, because we're in an ever-increasing li diverse yet deeply divided mission field by race, some of us are going to have to say yes, so the two of the development of multiethnic multicultural ministry, where you're not forced to assimilate into whiteness. Yeah. So , um, so, so I find myself in that, that tension, you know what I mean? Um, and so , uh, and so what's hard is , um, that,

Speaker 6:

okay ,

Speaker 2:

the dominant form of Christianity in America continues to be white Christianity, though, for some of my white brothers and sisters, they don't have the framework or the understanding or the experience to know that their Christianity is not universal Christianity. It's not normative Christianity. It's not the fullness of the Bible's presentation of following Christ. It , it is a Eurocentric. Uh, it is a white American version of Christianity. And to move from that version into a more authentic understanding of Christianity , um, it's gonna mean there are white brothers and sisters that are willing, not just to repent, take responsibility, live as reconcilers, step into the life of restorative justice based on biblical principles, but for some of them to experience the kind of conversion and to live into the kind of spiritual maturity that God has for them, they're going to have to go to a multiethnic church pastored by somebody not white. And for the first time in their lives, surrender to a shepherding authority. That is not , um, that , that, that , that is not , uh , totally submerged in whiteness. I even encourage some of my white brothers and sisters that are pastoring, multiethnic churches find you a co-pastor of color. So I co-pastor , uh , Bayside Midtown church with Bob [inaudible] , he's Armenian, his wife is from Mexico. Um, uh , Bob though, he's not African American. Um, he has been involved in cross-cultural multiethnic ministry , uh, for, for years, he , he has , uh, been willing to surrender himself under the spiritual authority of, of , uh, of African American leaders. And he, he understood when I came on to co-pastor with him, that he was going to have to give up power. That's good . And so , um, it's, it's, I mean, it's, it can't be an easy journey for Bob pastor and with me, it can't be heavy , but that's the way it should be. Yeah, absolutely. That's the way it should be. And , and , um, and so I think if you, if you're serious about reconciliation and you're a pastor, you're, you're one of my white brothers and sisters, and you're like, I want to lead a multiethnic church, then I'm going, we'll start with power. Start there. Amen. Is who are you sharing power with? And you need it. And so God could be saying right now, there's a sister. I want you to share power with there. There's a person of color. There's another brother, not of your skin color that you need to share. And it can't just be skin color. It's gotta be a consciousness to , yeah , you can't just go grab the first black or Brown person you see on the street first black , Hey, you want to go pastor with me, right? Cause they might already be assimilated into what you're already doing. So then you bring a person of color on your staff and they're just accustomed to being in a predominantly white setting. And they've already assimilated. I've decided the best gift I can give to a multiethnic church to evangelicalism is my black Christian self. That's what you're going to get. That's the word. Yes . You get in collard greens and cornbread with me. I'm getting James Cleveland, Kurt Franklin. Doesn't clap on beat. You getting James cone and J D ODAs Roberts and Cheryl Sanders . You already got Karl Barth and CS Lewis. I tweet C S Lewis. You already got that?

Speaker 1:

That was good. Oh, that's yeah . You're a gift brother. You're a gift to be received. And I love that. All right . I got one last question for you from , so what if , um, people are hearing this and they're like, man, I'm with it. Um , I'm in that stream, I have that framework. I'm doing it. Um , I'm bringing that , that the justice of , of the gospel as well and pressing in, Oh , what would you say those who have, you know, they're stuck in institutions and power structures , um, that, that we're describing and, and they try and they just get beat down and, and denied and pushed back and not listen to like, what, what would you say to those leaders right now that are listening that and going yes. Yes. That's what I dream and hope of. That's just not my reality. Like any, any words of wisdom for those of us that have experienced that?

Speaker 2:

Yeah. I , you know what , um, well, the most dangerous answer to that question is if you are in a setting, if you're at a church, if you're in a ministry and you've done everything you could, you've been humble. You've been strategic, you've been prayerful, you've been patient and you've been courageous and nothing has changed. Then it's time for you to shift your prayer and your strategy and your patients from trying to change that institution to God, delivering you to a place where you can fully be fruitful and thrive and flourish and your gifts and your abilities are respected. And , and you can actually make some progress because I've seen some people stay in places long where they couldn't make no progress. And some of them became so bitter that they're not even in ministry anymore. Right . They're not even, they're not even going to church anymore. They're , they're there . They're wondering if they're still Christian or not, if they're still a follower of Christ. And so , um, you know, I've been fortunate that , um, that I've been in places that are tough and challenging. I mean, I mean, Hey, I love Bayside church. Um, it's where I'm at. I mean, Bayside is, you know, so I, don't just co pastor Bayside church Midtown with Bob Bellion , Bayside church Midtown is, is, is a campus of Bayside church. So Bayside church has seven campuses, but what's unique is each campus has its own senior pastor or co senior pastor team. And so the majority of Bayside campuses are in predominantly white suburban settings. Uh, Bayside Midtown is, is the one church that campus that's in the heart of one of the most diverse cities , Sacramento in the country. We're in the heart of that city. Uh , we're also launching Bayside elk Grove. That's going to be intentionally multiethnic. Uh, there's a great opportunity for Bayside Davis to be multiethnic as well. And we're seeing diversity on the other campuses, but it's just harder. It's harder to, to build a diverse campus when you're not, when you don't start that way at the beginning. And when you're not in a very, very diverse community , um, that just helps push you, helps give you momentum. And so , um, but I've seen some, I've seen progress. I , I I've seen us and sometimes it's way slower than I wish it was, but I commend pastor Ray Johnston for , um, having the , the vision, the courage to even lose people over the fact that he's, he's working, trying to prioritize diversity, compassion, and justice and reconciliation at a church that didn't start that way 25 years ago. It's good,

Speaker 1:

man. That's awesome. I love that. And I'm like that movie, if you've been trying for years and ain't nothing happening, I hope, Hey, if you're listening to this and you're stuck in that, and you've done, you've walked that friends receive that as a word and, and, and allow yourself the freedom to say, okay, maybe it's it's time. Um, and I'd also just encourage you. If you're listening and you feel alone, or you found this podcast and you're, you're like, yes, I want to let you know, there's a community of people , uh , UI

Speaker 2:

that we get this , uh, we were with you, we say, we are, you are , we live in this reality and we have leaders and OGs and elders, I'm not calling you old brother. I'm just calling you an elder, right? Like F from , yeah, man, that's , that's ganas , bro. That's all wisdom right there that, that gray hair. But , um, that, that we have elders like F from , that have gone before us. And we have, we have a community here that will embrace you and help you through those kinds of decisions and , and trying to change the system friends we're talking about the future is here now is the time to start shaping the church that we've all dreamed of . Um, and I really believe that the future is young. It's urban and it's multiethnic. Um, and so this is what we're talking about. So we want to move forward. And so , uh, Reverend dr . F from Smith, thank you so, so much for your wisdom, your words, your presence, your continued work and fight in the kingdom of God for this. Um, you're the real deal, man. You live this out and you don't just talk about it. And man, this next generation of young people coming up, that's what they need. They need that authentic, lived out expression of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And so I thank you so much. Um, Ephrem has written a number of books, he's written five books. Um , so go ahead and get on Amazon, check it out , um, and you know, buy his book. I know you can listen to sermons as well. What's the, what's the website for sure. So you can go to influential global.com influential global.com. Also, I have a podcast called city beats with Efram Smith. It's a YouTube channel. It's also Apple podcasts . So please go to YouTube and subscribe to the channel city beats with FM Smith , uh , or you can check it out on Apple podcast and , uh , just appreciate so much being on here. And , uh , this, this is an honor. I have such love for a UI WWI . And , um, you know , uh, when Larry was at the helm, he was such a blessing to me, giving me a platform as a speaker, given me a platform as an author, as a thought leader in front of my, my tribe in my community. And so , um , I'm praying great blessings over you, Tommy. I know that that taken this Baton, taking this mantle is not easy, but there's a lot of people praying for you and lifting you up and you wide WWI is needed like never before. When I think about what's going on in a city, like the, one of my upbringing in Minneapolis, when I see the hurt and the pain that the anger in , in so many of our urban young people, because of the injust systems that continue to literally choke the breath out of artists that literally suffocate and take black lives, we need like never before empowered, equipped, urban youth workers, urban youth pastors, young heroes for God prophetic voices that will give their lives to the raising up of a new generation of, of soldiers for Christ. Um, I was fortunate that I came along in a generation where , um, I was so empowered by my youth pastors, that , that , that , that I was a part of the generation that developed Christian hip hop. I was a part of the , the generation of like, I call them like the street soldiers generation. That was like, you know what, if the church is not going to pay me, the devil's not going to stop me. And it was because of youth pastors that invested in my life. And so I think God for you, I w I , and , uh , and you are so needed. If there's some people where money in their pocket, listening to this, you need to give to you iwi. Amen, man. Thank you so much Efram . We're so appreciative of you and we want to carry on that legacy. And I hope those of you who are listening, maybe some of you young bucks out there , uh , there's a legacy that we get to carry in the sacredness that we get to walk in. And so thank you so much for walking that road ahead of us. That from bless you brother. Thank you so much. God bless you. Thank you.

Speaker 4:

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