Community Group Study Notes
- Have someone in your group provide a brief, 2-minute summary of Sunday’s message.
- On Kingdom Come Sunday, we took time to highlight some of our church’s ministry partnerships. What was one takeaway you had from our Kingdom Come partners?
- Read John 17:20-23. What is the importance of our unity in the Body of Christ? What impact does this have on the world around us?
- Take time in your group to pray for some of our Kingdom Come ministry partners (and consider referencing the On Mission Magazine to help inform your praying).
- What is one action step you can take in response to what you heard on Sunday?
Jerry Gillis: Well good morning to everyone on all of our campuses. Whether you're here at the Crosspoint campus or you're at Lockport or at Cheektowaga or Niagara Falls, we want to say a good morning to you and good morning to all of our partners that are with us. We're so glad that you're here, and we look forward to connecting with you here in just a few moments. I have some really good looking friends up here on the stage with me. They are wonderful partners of ours, and they are friends. I'm going to just move from this direction. Down on the far end is Pastor Art Hall from the Journey Church. Would you welcome him?
Jerry Gillis: We also have Pastor Jonathan Staples from First Shiloh Baptist. Welcome him please.
Jerry Gillis: Somebody who's familiar to some of us here, Pastor Andre Shep Clarke who is from New Direction Christian Fellowship. Glad you're here.
Jerry Gillis: And then Pastor Jason Dreighton is with us from First Calvary Missionary Baptist church. Welcome him as well.
Jerry Gillis: So I wanted us to take a few moments together to be able to really have a conversation, and that's what I'm going to be doing. I'm going to be facilitating a bit of a conversation with these gentleman, and I'm going to let them answer as they see fit. They'll tell you we haven't scripted this. Some of you are going, "You haven't scripted this? What does that mean?" Well, it means that these are my friends, and we can have a conversation. That's what that means because that's what friends can do. And I think it's a healthy conversation for us to be able to have in the body of Christ.
Jerry Gillis: You see, the world that we live in is a divided world. We live in a divided and a polarized world. Maybe we're polarized because of our politics. People are polarized because of race. People are polarized because of class. We just got a real polarization happening. The problem is is that sometimes that polarization that the world is pressing on us leaks into the church. That sometimes that very polarization happens in the body of Christ, and we start acting like the world that's trying to conform us into its own mold. But you and I both know that in the body of Christ, if we're going to be serious about the mission that God has given us, the mission of the church to see every man, woman, and child have a repeated opportunity to hear and see the beautiful gospel of Jesus Christ. That the only way we can do that is together in the body of Christ, not polarized, not divided in the body of Christ.
Jerry Gillis: So with that in mind, I wanted to kind of submit a couple of questions to these guys, and let them begin to share a little bit with us, both from their heart and maybe even from the word of God as they see fit.
Jerry Gillis: First question maybe that I would ask you to address is what does it look like for the body of Christ to show unity that can transcend cultural or ethnic or political differences? What does that look like in the body of Christ? Maybe we start down here on your end, Art.
Art Hall: Okay. My mic is on. This is a broad question, and it gives an opportunity for some true dialogue in many different capacities. I want to begin with a scripture, one we're very familiar with in the gospel evangelist John chapter four where it talks about when Jesus met the woman at the well, the Samaritan woman. Now this is significant when we talk about a subject like this, what does it look like for the body of Christ to show unity, because we look at Jesus' example. So he comes, we know that the Samaritans at the time didn't like the Jews, the Jews didn't like the Samaritans. But they met at Jacob's well. They both loved Jacob, and so I think the first thing is is we have to come to a place of agreement. We have to come to a place where mentally, physically we have something in common that we can have watched a dialogue. And I think the important part about this is that no matter what the culture or ethnic background was, there was a commonality that they both were able to come and say, "Hey."
Art Hall: And the first thing Jesus does is he doesn't reference himself as the Messiah. He doesn't reference himself as what the prophetic declarations were about him in the old testament. The first thing he says is, "Give me something to drink." And so I think that if we're going to do this, number one, we have to be intentional about it. And then I think we have to have an opportunity to be willing to have that dialogue regardless of the cultural differences.
Jerry Gillis: That's great. Pastor Staples.
Jonathan Staple: First of all, Pastor Jerry, allow me to thank you for this opportunity and for having this very tough conversation. There are a lot of pastors that would shy away from this, but you are courageous in allowing us to have this conversation and for that, you ought to be celebrated.
Jerry Gillis: Thank you, brother.
Jonathan Staple: Nothing changes if the prophet is afraid to speak. So thank you, Pastor Jerry. And even if the prophet speaks, there's no guarantee it's going to change.
Jonathan Staple: The thing that I want to look at, the passage of scripture I want us to look at very quickly is Galatians chapter three, beginning in verse 26 going through chapter four, right around verse 11. Wonderful pericope. That 28th verse Paul says, "Not Greek, not Jew, not male, not female, not bond, not free, for we're all one in Christ Jesus." There are a couple of things I want to point out. First of all, Paul is not suggesting that those distinctions are obliterated. When I come to Jesus Christ, I still come as an African American man. When I get saved, I don't become a white female. I'm still a black man.
Jerry Gillis: Thankfully.
Jonathan Staple: And so it is incumbent upon the church to accept people as they are, as they come. But then it's also incumbent on those that come to understand that those racial distinctions are not the most important distinction. We're all one. Yes, I'm an African American male, but I love the Lord Jesus. And I am a Christian first.
Jonathan Staple: So the goal is not you, no Greek, not bond, not free, not male, not female. And if that's the goal, why is 11 o'clock Sunday morning still the most segregated hour of the week? So the church of Jesus Christ has a lot of work to do.
Jerry Gillis: Shep, all you got to do is talk.
Andre Clarke: Isn't that wonderful?
Andre Clarke: To be honest with you, my response is more practical. I think that there is tension at the table. Even at the Last Supper, there was tension at the table. But in that, we have to stay at the table. So we have to learn to be willing to put our foot in our mouth. So I have the opportunity, I've been to lunch with Pastor Mike Ramos. I have had dinner at Pastor Dave Drake's home, him and his lovely wife. You came and held my hand at my brother's funeral at this time last year. I think it's those intentional things that we may not get it right, but we sit in the tension so that we may be able to get it right. It's changing the wine skin of congregational religion into a new wine skin of relation, so we can actually pour out what that bitterness that was left in that old wine skin and create a new wine skin. And that is what's going to cause us to be more unified.
Andre Clarke: So I've said some things that was inappropriate, and we've all shared in putting our foot in our mouths because we don't know each other's culture. We don't know each other's background. But we learn and we learn and we learn. And the more we learn one another, then we learn how to love one another.
Jerry Gillis: Beautiful. Beautiful. Pastor Dreighton, what do you think it looks like for the body of Christ to show unity that transcends cultural and ethnic differences?
Jason Dreighton: What it looks like, I think it looks like Heaven in an amazing way. Again, thank you again for this opportunity, Pastor Jerry, for what you're doing. This is awesome and much needed. When I say it looks like Heaven, the beauty of the church is we get to do this from a kingdom aspect. And make no mistake this conversation is not only happening in the church, however we have the anointing for success. What's amazing about it is that no one in Heaven is shocked that we have differences. God made us different on purpose, and what's interesting in that is he doesn't let one person or one church or one race or one culture just have all the gifts. He makes us need each other. I mean, again it's awesome. From our struggles to our successes, he'll make the poor need the rich and the rich need the poor. He'll make the black need the white and Latino need the Asian. And it's awesome in that as he gives these gifts to his church for the edifying of his church, he leaves in our hands to make a decision. Unity is a decision.
Jason Dreighton: So when you say this question of what does it look like to have this unity, in Psalms 133:1 that says, "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity." By the nature of the scripture, that shows there's an option for there not be unity. And so as the church, if we say we have the mind of Christ, which the world does not have, that gives us an advantage. And so with that mind of Christ, if I make a decision to dwell together in unity, the question again is what does it look like? I think it's amazing that the Psalm is David likens it to oil. It's like the precious ointment upon the head that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron's beard, and went down to the skirts of his garments. My God, can you imagine if we make the conscious decision with the mind of Christ to dwell together in unity the measure of oil that will flow. I think it looks like God advancing his kingdom in the Earth with every man, woman, and child have repeated opportunities to see, hear, and respond to the gospel.
Jerry Gillis: Amen. Amen. That's beautiful. That's beautiful. I mean, it's interesting that you kind of made a distinction there about the idea of almost how we can choose not to be unified. Like there's a unity that exists, and the scripture actually says that we don't have to work for it. He says in Ephesians chapter four, "The unity of the spirit is there." It's there. That we have to preserve the unity of the spirit because it exists already. But we can choose not to be unified. I had an old souther preacher that said this one time, and he didn't mean it in terms of any offense to animals, particularly cats, you cat lovers. So don't take this the wrong way. But he said, "You could tie the two tails of cats together, and you could have them be unified. But they're not really be unity." And I said, "Yeah. I think I understand that." Don't do it, but I think I understand that. There can be a choice not to have that.
Jerry Gillis: So if that's the case, and Shep, you pointed out something just a moment ago. I want you to highlight this for me. The role of genuine relationship, if we're going to see even this real unity that's for a purpose, unity's not an end in itself. It's not for the sake of itself. In other words, we're not unified just to be unified. We're actually unified for the sake of the mission, which is what pastor Dreighton was just pointing out. We're unified so that, like John 17 says, "So that the world may know that God has sent his son." That's why as the body of Christ in all of our beautiful array and colors, that's why we are together so that the world may know that God has sent him son and that this is who we follow. As they were saying, we are believers in Jesus. We are a new kind of person now.
Jerry Gillis: If that's the case, what's the role of genuine relationships? Shep, I want you to speak to this first. If we're going to see healing between brothers and sisters who maybe are different than one another, who maybe don't share the same background, what's the role of genuine relationship in that to see that come to fruition?
Andre Clarke: I don't think that we really recognize how strong the relationship is because of the disjointedness that we've had. But to be able to... Let me throw it out like this, I am an alum of Renovation Institute. And to be able to come into The Chapel and be at meetings that started years ago meeting with Ryan Colsey and all those things that... I just built great relationships and going out to lunch and meeting at the Oak Room and Maddie's. Every place we can go find a little spot to eat. And we just continue to grow and grow. And when we first started meeting, there was a meeting before the meeting. What do they want? Then after we met, we had a meeting after the meeting. Let's interpret what they just said. But now we've gotten to a place there's no need for a meeting before or after. It's just brothers getting together, talking about Jesus, strategizing how to give the gospel to everyone. There's no pretense. There's no script to it. It's genuine love. And that is one of the most beautiful things. When I see people from The Chapel at the grocery store, "Hey, I saw you on a video at my church." I'm like, "Hey. I'm a celebrity." You know what I'm saying? Wow.
Andre Clarke: So those are the beautiful things because guess what, no matter what table I've sat in and because of my connection with The Chapel, I'm about to graduate Hope College in May. And because of that... Yeah. That's praise worthy. Because of this church, because of that, I used to come to the meetings and feel inferior because everyone had masters and doctorates, and they use words that I wasn't accustomed to. But let me tell you something, they never made me feel anything. It was myself. But now I feel like a doctor.
Jerry Gillis: Right on. Right on.
Jerry Gillis: That was literal mic drop, wasn't it? He just went like that. He just threw it down. That's beautiful.
Jerry Gillis: One of you guys. Maybe Pastor Staples, speak to the idea of genuine relationship in seeing healing come about with brothers and sisters who maybe aren't like one another.
Jonathan Staple: I think there are a couple of things, Pastor Jerry. Number one, again we have to accept people authentically as to where they are. To deny who I am and what I bring to the table and to deny my history and to deny nearly 250 years of chattel slavery in this country is not to authentically have a relationship. To have a relationship is to be able to talk about those uncomfortable places, that tension that Shep mentioned, and to do that in a place where you know it will be heard and where you can work through that.
Jonathan Staple: Secondly, I think it's critically important that we also define the terms. We need to know what everyone meas by the terms that they use. What's our goal? Is our goal diversity or is our goal inclusion? They are two different things. Diversity is just the mix of people. Inclusion means that everybody at the table as a vote and that everybody is included. Is our goal equity or is our goal equality? They're two different things. The wonderful illustration I like to use for that is there are three people that are looking over a fence to watch a game. And each one of them is standing on a wooden crate. The problem is one person is six-five, one person is about six foot, and the other person is about five foot, and they each have a wooden crate. Now the five foot person even with the wooden crate still can't see over the fence. But that's equal because everybody has one wooden crate. Equity means take the crate from the six-five person, and give it to the five foot person. So now everybody can see over the fence and see the game clearly.
Jonathan Staple: So what are we talking about? What's the goal? Is it equity or is it equality?
Jerry Gillis: Beautiful. Beautiful. Art, why don't you weigh in on that?
Art Hall: I'm reminded of my experience when I lived in Orlando, Florida, and coming from Buffalo, New York and going to Orlando, it was a big melting pot. I was just introduced to a diversity of cultures, a diversity of ethnic groups in many different capacities. Everywhere I went it was always something that I was not used to and different, and it caused me to be able to embrace what I didn't know. And so we'd go to a place, and I'd say, "Hey, where's the corner store?" They'd say, "The bodega?" I said, "What?" Bodega. So now you begin to adopt these things and you begin to look at how you're immersed in these different cultures. And it reminds me of the Apostle Paul in First Corinthians 9:19 where he says, "I became all things, all men that I might gain some." And the goal was Christ. The goal was always Christ. "But to the Jew, I began a Jew that I might gain some. To the Greek as to the Greek that I might gain some. To those that are under the law even though I'm not under law, that I might gain those that are under the law."
Art Hall: The Apostle Paul is laying out a fantastic selfless way of saying, "I understand I'm stepping into territory that I'm not used to. I am not a Greek, and although I have grown up in Jews, I understand that I'm stepping into territory that I'm not used to. But I'm willing to embrace and understand this culture so that I may gain some for Christ." So the question that I often ask myself is what am I willing to embrace and what am I willing to let go so that we can have these authentic relationships. And I think that's where unity begins. It begins with having an opportunity to cultivate relationships. If we're able to have the relationship, we can have the unity. And so when I look at this now, I come back home 2015 and they say, "Hey, man. Let's go have something to eat. Where do you want to go?" I say, "Hey, let's go up to that bodega." Now I'm talking even to the people I came from.
Art Hall: But what this is is it really gives us an opportunity to begin to look and to say, "I know that if we're going to have general relationships and if we're going to have healing, what are we willing to embrace, and what are we willing to let go to build authentic relationships?"
Jerry Gillis: That's beautiful. That's beautiful. Pastor Dreighton, why don't you share a little bit with us about kind of the role of genuine relationship in this context.
Jason Dreighton: The role of genuine relationship is number one I think in addition to what my brothers said and what I'm willing to embrace is I have to be able to look at people through God's eyes. Again, in the context of the church and having this discussion, if he values someone enough to save them, who am I to devalue them, to ignore them? Am I allowed to say, "Every friend of Christ can't be a friend of mine." I try to look at this through his eyes and see the value of relationship. Again, every culture or race in the kingdom has something authentic and genuine to offer to the church. If we're the body of Christ, and again we don't want to be disjointed, there is something say for example that my Italian brother is going to bring that my African American brother is not going to bring. And I don't know about you, but I want everything on the table. If the Lord has made this awesome meal, who am I to say what he put on there is not good enough for the table?
Jason Dreighton: So looking at, again, the genuine relationship, I have to look at you through God's eyes and understand there are going to be some differences. Praise God. There are going to be some differences. However, it's his will that those differences exist. And so here we are again showing a willingness to look at people through God's eyes, love them with his heart, understand them with the mind of Christ, and have authentic relationship, which will then, oh my god, spill over into amazing fellowship. I mean, even this table right here, we're all brothers in Christ. But we have different denominations at this table. And so again not even looking from a color aspect, we have different denominations. However it doesn't matter at the table. Do you believe in Jesus? Are you washed by the same blood with that same cross Jesus saved you? If that be the case, we have a common ground. Now your crate might be bigger than my crate, but I still get to see over the fence. And we get to enjoy the same game and celebrate the same victory.
Jerry Gillis: Amen.
Jason Dreighton: Celebrate the same victory.
Jerry Gillis: Oh, man. You went from answering to preaching right there, and that is allowed. That is allowed. That has happened. I mean, I can tell you just being able to have built relationships with all of these men, we have genuine relationship. We're friends, legitimately. You need to understand something, we're not doing something on Kingdom Come Sunday here that's tokenism.
Jason Dreighton: Yes.
Jerry Gillis: That's not what we're doing. We're friends up here talking about serious things that we want the body of Christ to know because here's what we do know, we know that not only is this good for our whole body to be able to hear. But we also know that there are people live streaming us all over the place. We also know that Western New York sees this on WKBW, Channel 7, and they're going to see this conversation. And it's needed in our context in Buffalo, New York, in Western New York. You know Buffalo is the sixth most segregated city in the United States? The sixth most. And Mayor Brown was saying to me one time that it's based on geography. It's geographical segregation. In other words, we don't live in the same places. In Atlanta where I came from, it was a little different than that. There was certainly some issues surrounding race and culture that they're growing in. But they lived among one another generally. Now there are pockets that kind of all look homogeneous and that's normal in ever place. But here it's different than that, and it's an understated kind of segregation, whether that's the Latino community or the immigrant community on the West side or whether that's the African American community or the Caucasian community or the water, right?
Jerry Gillis: It's kind of like we've dug out our places, but in the body of Christ, the place that we're digging out is Jesus. That's the place that we're digging out, and that's what we want people to recognize and be able to see. So I've got real relationships with these brothers, and believe me, I understand what it feels like to feel intimidated sometimes when I'm hanging around Pastor Staples who's got more degrees than a thermometer and is still working on more. I'm like, "When are you going to stop?" And he's like, "Man, I love the classroom. I love studying. I love doing all this stuff." And I'm like, "Good. Well, just get smarter for the rest of us and help us out."
Jerry Gillis: Now let me kind of offer this question as well. What wisdom would you give to brothers and sisters that are listening, whether they are in any of our venues that are listening right now or maybe watching on TV or streaming or listening on the radio or whatever? What wisdom would you give a brother or sister as they enter into relationships with those that aren't like them? In other words, what are some ways that you come into that kind of relationship because we need to understand what that looks like in the body of Christ. Theoretically, we all nod our heads. We all say amen. Theoretically. But what does it look like when we really enter into relationship with people who aren't like us? They don't come from the same ethic background as we do. They don't come from the same social background as we do. They don't come from the same political background as we do. How do we enter into those relationships in a way that honors the Lord and honors people?
Jerry Gillis: Why don't you start there, Pastor Dreighton?
Jason Dreighton: Awesome. Awesome. Loaded question. I think that if we're going to enter into these relationships, again, the beauty that we all have as believers is that we have the Holy Spirit, and we understand the word teaches us. He has not given us the spirit of fear but power, love, and a sound mind. Power, love, and a sound mind. So as I enter into relationship, we have to allow the Holy Spirit to do more than just let us have good church, have a good witness on the corner if I'm passing out a track. How about the same Holy Spirit in you is the same Holy Spirit in me, and if that Holy Spirit's not going to fight the Holy Spirit in you, then we don't have to fight each other. So if I don't have the spirit of fear but power, love, and a sound mind, that means with my brother and my sister, let's make a decision not to walk on eggshells around each other. Again, there's no reason why I should be intimidated or fearful of walking around to offend or hurt my brother or my sister.
Jason Dreighton: Also understanding this though. If relationship is the goal, it's just going to be a matter of time before a foot goes in your mouth. It's going to happen, especially if we're dealing from different cultures or different races. But how about this, let's not wear our feelings on our shoulders. Let's understand that if we want to cultivate relationship, then my brother or my sister at some point we're going to have to have a tough conversation about something. And if the goal is relationship, I have to go into that relationship knowing you mean me no harm. You just don't understand. And if you don't understand, listen it's all right. If you say something that might kind of hurt me, I can't wear my feelings on my shoulder. You're just trying to have relationship.
Jason Dreighton: And so whether you are the offender or the offendee, let's stop being offended.
Jerry Gillis: Amen.
Jason Dreighton: Let's stop being offended. Again, if we're going to be the church, then let's be the church. If us showing love toward one another shows the world who he is, it shows the world who he is. So let's make those conscious efforts and have a tough conversations. Again, be able to say something that might make you feel uncomfortable or make me feel uncomfortable. However, the goal is to have comfort. The goal is to have comfort. So be willing to hear some of the hard things, so understanding can be shared mutually and we can go forth and advance the kingdom.
Jerry Gillis: Amen. Amen. Beautiful. Art.
Art Hall: When we look at how we cultivate relationships, and I want to stay there. I think the advice that I would give going back to last is being intentional about cultivating relationships. Philippians 3:10, I want to use this as an opportunity to illustrate it. The Apostle Paul says that I might know him in the power of his resurrection and in the fellowship of his suffering being conformed to his death. Our goal is to be conformed to Christ, and our union with Christ, our union with each other ought to be indicative to our union with Christ. Our relationship with him should also be expressed in our relationship with each other, and that doesn't mean that we celebrate wins when things are going well. That doesn't mean that we just glory in his resurrection, but we have to know him in the fellowship of his suffering as well.
Art Hall: So when we engage each other, the thing that's important is... I had a Walk A Mile, which is something that we do over in the Fruit Belt neighborhood over on the East side. And we go door to door, and we do prayer walks, and we engage individuals in the community. We had some individuals that came from The Chapel and that supported. And it was just such an amazing opportunity as they asked questions and we talked and we looked. And we really got an opportunity to explore what it really means to serve God even in the most diverse places and circumstances. And it's those types of things and moments like that where we come to understand that I really have an understanding of... Maybe not an understanding. But I really see where you are and I understand the context in which you speak. There are many things that shape our world view, and I understand the context in which you speak. So when we look at how we're embracing and how we're engaging and how we're building these relationships, it's one thing to be mindful that we are intentional about cultivating relationships. So whatever it is that you do, whether it be on your job, whether it be speaking, whether it be at your church, be intentional about cultivating relationships.
Jerry Gillis: Amen. That's good. Pastor Staples.
Jonathan Staple: The reality is you don't know what you don't know. There's a wonderful scholar by the name of Valerie Batts who has defined modern racism in four ways. She says, first of all, that there are people who simply don't like you based on the color of your skin. They don't like you. They're not going to like you. That's it.
Jonathan Staple: But then secondly she says that there are people that are open to diversity until someone else intolerant comes in the room. That's what happens in Galatians chapter two where Peter is hanging out with Gentiles and having a good time and probably eating some un-ceremonially clean/unclean food. Yeah, probably eating some smothered pork chops. And other people walk in the room, and Peter tries to do a moon walk out of the room as if he was never there. And Paul rips into him. Calls him out publicly. That's the first thing that we need if we're going to have these authentic relationships. We need accountability partners who will call us out because we don't know what we don't know.
Jonathan Staple: The third thing that Batts says is that modern racism is sewn in the cultural things that we celebrate. So if you have a huge celebration for Independence Day and you don't mention Juneteenth, what are you saying to the world? Again, you didn't mean any harm, and, in fact, one of my pet peeves is that even in the church of Jesus Christ, today we have those who lift high the flag and not necessarily the cross. I love my country. I'm a proud American, but it was at the cross where I first saw the light.
Jonathan Staple: The fourth place that Batts says that racism is shown is in the glass ceiling. It is sad that women make 77 cents on the dollar compared to men for the same job. What would The Chapel look like if there were no Leroy Wiggens, Michael Ramos, Patty or Amy? But thanks be to God, people here are intentional on making sure that the leadership is diverse and inclusive. Again we don't know what we don't know.
Jonathan Staple: Lastly, I think it would be incumbent upon us to, and I'm still thinking this through. What would it look like if we shift the paradigm? We've always looked at this as a moral issue, as a theological, biblical issue. What would it look like if we looked at this as an economic issue? The reality is that Jesus talked more about money than he did prayer. And so how about making the economic argument that to have racist policies or to have policies that don't include everyone, really hurting ourselves because when women make less money, that means there's less money in the household, there's less taxable income for community. How about making that economic argument that shows that when we have a high tide, it lights all of the boats because money really talks.
Jerry Gillis: Thank you, brother. You know what I love about this is that we can have this kind of conversation among brothers and sisters. Some of you hear this and you think, "Oh, he's coming from a particular political persuasion," or, "That's not how I see politics." You know what, brothers and sisters can dialogue about what are in the best interest of people. We can have those conversations without having to listen to what the world says by polarizing ourselves, finding ourselves in only one camp and saying, "You're bad. We're good." We can have those kinds of conversations, right? Even, by the way, even if we choose to agree to disagree on certain policies that we are arguing from a biblical, moral, or economic avenue, and then maybe our brother or sister is arguing from a biblical, moral, economic avenue. And we don't see those policies exactly the same way. Okay. We can still love one another. We can still walk with Jesus together, and we can have a relationship bridge that is strong enough to bear truth on it. Sometimes that's what we don't have.
Jerry Gillis: If our relational bridge isn't strong enough where we can tell the truth, then that relational bridge isn't strong. We need to be able to tell the truth to one another and be able to have those kinds of conversations in the world that we live in. If we don't model that in the body of Christ, who's going to for us? This is incumbent upon us to be able to model this kind of civility and love having these kinds of conversations.
Jerry Gillis: So thank you, Pastor Staples. Shep, you want to close us out with a word on that?
Andre Clarke: I really believe that when we're going to meet people that we don't know is to not be prejudice that that's not like everybody else. So I can't walk up to an African American black guy and think that he is what I've seen on the news. I can't walk up onto someone that is white or Hispanic and believe that they are... I take people at face value. My arms are just wide open. I grew up with a father that was in Alabama in marches and had dogs sicked on him, but he did not hate nobody. And I know that might be a little broken English.
Jerry Gillis: I like it. It's so good actually.
Andre Clarke: That Alabama come out of me every once in a while. And I'm telling you, it has shaped... That's why I can come into The Chapel and worship. I can go to the Tabernacle and worship because I don't have any differences. It's like if you really want to have... My piece of wisdom, if you really want to be kingdom minded and have real relationships, forget... I'm not saying we have to forget about slavery. Slavery is a part of history. That's a part of history. But I'm not going to allow slavery to shape my thinking for everybody else that I meet. That's Sally, that's Susan, that's Jennifer. I love you. Listen, we weren't there. I wasn't there, and this might sound crazy and radical, but I just love people. And I think that when we get to the place that we just... The love of Jesus is on the inside of us, and it's not a benefit or a reward to hate our enemy or to love those that love us. What about loving? What about you can get more bees with honey. You know what I'm saying? If we want to change the world and I want to build a relationship with somebody, say hi.
Andre Clarke: Just say hi. How are you? I like that outfit. Oh my god, what church you go to? Have you seen Jesus today? Anything. I think that is what's really going to change society. Hi. You want wisdom, you want to meet somebody different, then you can't keep going to the same places, meeting the same people. You got to go somewhere else. And you got to say, "You know what, I'm going to build my circle." Because guess what, I got white friends, black friends, Puerto Rican friends. I've got African friends. I got every kind of friends because guess what, I'm friendly. And if you're friendly, you're going to have friends. But if you're mean and you're just no for and no more, you never going to have friends. And then you will never see what Heaven is going to be like on Earth because on Earth, everybody's there. There is no Chapel section. There's no New Direction section. There's no First Shiloh section. Listen, it's just everyone that loves Jesus.
Andre Clarke: How many people here love Jesus?
Jerry Gillis: Amen.
Andre Clarke: Then you better love me.
Jerry Gillis: Oh, man. You can see I have chosen my friends wisely. Here's what's beautiful, of all of the various things that the world wants to highlight about our differences, the one thing that we highlight is what we have in common and it's Jesus. So what we want to do is we want to actually signify that in the way that Jesus marked that for us, through the Lord's supper.
Jerry Gillis: We'll be brief here for time, but I'm going to ask Pastor Art hall to say a brief word about the body of Christ. And then following that, Pastor Clarke, if you'll pray for us. And then we'll receive the elements together.
Art Hall: Isaiah chapter 54, chapter 53, verse four. "But he was wounded for our transgressions. He was bruised for our inequities. The chastisement of our peace was upon him. And by his stripes, we were healed. We are all many members, yet we are one body."
Andre Clarke: Father, we thank you for your body that was broken for us. And, God, as we partake in remembrance of you, God, I pray that there's healing, not just for the physical body but for the spiritual body. In Jesus name, take, eat.
Jonathan Staple: This beloved is the very cup of salvation. No longer do we need the blood of a ram, a lamb, or a turtle dove. But with the shed blood of Jesus, our sins have been forgiven.
Jason Dreighton: Lord Jesus, it's your blood that you have shed upon the cross of Calvary, and we know without it we can not have our sins forgiven. So as this cup is the New Testament and your blood, we receive all the blood as one for us. Cause us in our hearts and our minds to look at it in everyway you intended, and as a result of it, be blessed beyond measure. In Jesus name, amen.
Jason Dreighton: Drink all of it in remembrance of him.
Jerry Gillis: What a beautiful, beautiful opportunity to be able to share this together. Would you say thank you to our guests here again one more time?
Jerry Gillis: Amen. Amen.
Jerry Gillis: So father, we join our voices all together to as a congregation with our hands and our hearts to be able to say to all these partners, we bless you. We thank God for you. I pray that they would experience the loving embrace of your spirit, even now. God, they would be encouraged and draw life from your people who are interceding on their behalf, who are standing alongside of them saying, "We value you. We love you." And, God, I pray for great fruitfulness in their ministries. Some of them are church plants, some of them are organizations looking to help people in physical tangible ways but also with them being able to be exposed to the gospel.
Jerry Gillis: Whatever the organization or local congregation, God, I pray for fruit that remains just as Jesus said that he desired that we would bear fruit that remains, fruit that endures for the sake of the glory of God. I pray that you would meet every need that is a need in any of these ministries. Whether it is a personnel need, it's a human resource need, it's a financial need, it's a need of particular things for the accomplishment of your purposes, would you meet every need according to your riches and glory in Christ Jesus. And, God, would you breath life and encouragement and hope into every one of these partners that they may feel encouraged and enlivened to continue on with the work of the gospel. We pray now in Jesus name, and all of God's people said, amen.