Becoming the Bridge: A Necessary Conversation on Racial Injustice

by Sami

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Let me be clear from the beginning: this post is a recap of a conversation between Pastors Steven Furtick (Elevation Church) & John Gray (Relentless Church) titled Becoming the Bridge. I am a white woman who was so moved that these two men (a white pastor and black pastor, respectively) took the time to sit down on a stage together on a Sunday morning and have a difficult but necessary conversation on racial injustice and the state of our world today.

becoming the bridge conversation on racial injustice

Becoming the Bridge

Because of the break I’ve taken from social media, I had not (and still have not) seen the video of what happened to George Floyd. But I have been in touch enough to know my Black brothers and sisters have been hurting.

“We have to speak. We aren’t going to say everything perfectly, but in a season like this, silence is agreement.”

Steven Furtick

While I’ve struggled to find the right words to support both my friends as well as all people of color, I know I cannot remain silent. So while I continue to have conversations of my own privately, I wanted to share some of the moments that have truly stayed with me from this public conversation between Steven & John.

Church Online

For those of you that know me, you know I don’t attend either of the above-mentioned churches. In fact, I don’t even live in the same states. But one thing I’ve appreciated about not being able to go to our church buildings is that I’ve been able to attend multiple churches online each weekend.

In fact, on average, I watch and/or listen to 3-4 different sermons each Sunday now. A friend introduced me to Elevation Church last year because of a message to students that Steven Furtick preached at a youth conference. Their worship is infectious in the best way possible (please tell me you’ve listened to their latest worship album, Graves into Gardens) and Pastor Steven’s preaching style is no-nonsense and relatable, all in the same breath.

So when I tuned in to discover he decided to press pause on his ‘normal sermon’ to have this much-needed conversation with friend and Pastor John Gray of Relentless Church, I knew I had to stop everything to listen.

Stand for Something by Sitting Down

One of the first thing’s Pastor Steven said in starting his conversation with Pastor John was this:

Sometimes before you can stand for something, you need to sit with someone.

Pastor Steven Furtick

I’ll put the full video of their conversation below, but in case you don’t have the time to listen to it all (although I highly recommend you do, here are some of my biggest takeaways…

Becoming the Bridge Notes & Quotes

(All of the quotes. below come from either John Gray or Steven Furtick, but because I was writing so quickly during their conversation, I couldn’t always keep up with the attributions)

We need to be willing to step into other people’s reality – if there was more empathy, there wouldn’t be this lack of humanity. We need to learn how to see people through the lens of grace.

Embrace the totality of me so I can trust your soul.

Respect people for the content of their character, not the color of their skin.

You can’t pass a law to change someone’s heart; only the Holy Spirit can do that.

The church needs to reconcile the sin of silence, indifference and apathy.

This moment we’re in is symbolic of the sickness we allowed.

Jesus wasn’t political, he’s spiritual. We’ve reduced Jesus to the most comfortable things he said.

We’ve lost the art of conversation and replaced it with clicks and comments.

Psalm 137 is an example of how God allowed for human emotion to be expressed without judgment.

When you’re in pain, the first thing I see is what I remember the most. My heart may be pure, but so is their pain. Please don’t limit my God to your experience.

Pastor John Gray

Questions White People Need to Ask

Halfway through their conversation, John Gray offered up an important question white people need to ask, along with some follow-up thoughts, including:

  1. What is in my heart about black people and how did it get there?
  2. We can’t absolve any community from responsibility.
  3. If we’re going to be honest with our minds, we have to know what’s in there in the first place.
  4. Make time to have necessary conversations around reconciliation (John 17)
  5. Unity is not uniformity: let’s have the uncomfortable initial conversation.
  6. Pray that pain is now enough for us to activate change.
  7. There’s a difference between guilt and repentance.
  8. The conversation has to start at the heart level.

Why Did I Do This?

While this conversation may not be an exact roadmap for a conversation you might have, I pray it does inspire you to follow suit. I never wanted to forget these words. And so if this post only serves as a reminder for me and a guide for my children, that is enough. But if it also encourages just one of you and inspires you to act, then all the better.

Conversation between a Black Woman & White Woman

I also had the opportunity to sit down with a Black friend of mine. I first interviewed Danyelle Little on The Sami Cone Show, but quickly realized the conversation needed to go so much deeper.

We then talked for 40 minutes and recorded it to share with others who could benefit from two friends talking about race. You can watch that conversation below:

Become the Bridge Video

Pastor Steven Furtick and Pastor John Gray sit down to have a conversation about race, privilege, apathy, and what it will take to become the bridge to a better future. Watch the full conversation below

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