Efrem Smith: Can the Church Become Post-Racial?
Pastor Efrem Smith and Spencer Burke take a break at the National Pastor’s Convention in San Diego, California, to talk about the dream of a Church that transcends the lines of race, ethnicity and theological divides. Although he grew up going to an all-black church, Efrem remembers attending an event when he was 17 where there were multiple races and ethnicities gathered together and he thought, “This is the way church is supposed to be.” Today he pastors a church that is multi-racial-a body of Whites, African Americans, Asians, Latinos-and he challenges listeners to decide, “Should church be different? Should we rethink our vision of church as Black/White/Charismatic/mainline/etc.?”
Efrem and Spencer discuss how it was important for immigrants and first generations to have churches that were single ethnicities or theologies. They were safe places, places to assimilate and strengthen their community. But after second and third generations-perhaps this generation-people have moved beyond color or denominational barriers. Perhaps the church should be dreaming and casting a vision toward a broader multi-ethnic Church. (In fact, the Church has not moved as fast as the nation and is one of the institutions that tends to remain segregated-Black pastor, Black congregation; White pastor, White congregation). Efrem’s question for his and other churches is this: Can we build a church that looks like heaven? He says, “Let’s raise up a new generation in Church that can be a prophetic voice to the nation.” The next revival will not just be about people coming to Christ, but about renewing the relevancy of Church. We need a holistic revival that is not just about “do you accept Jesus” but “will you give the Church another chance?”
- How have your thoughts changed about race since Barack Obama became president?
- Do you think you are post-racial in politics, entertainment, music, sports, or church?
- What are you still “fighting for” in church? Liberal/conservative or old/new?
Small Group or Staff Questions
- How have we kept any particular group out of our Church or made them use “the other door?” (Women, children, racial groups, lifestyle groups?)
- What would a post-racial (or post-theological, denominational, etc.) church look like?
- How can we celebrate next generation/post-generation expressions of faith in our church?
Books by Efrem Smith