What Diversity in the Church Really Takes

Tim Ross started Embassy City Church in the most diverse zip code in the United States. After spending years in leadership at Gateway Church and The Potter’s House, Pastor Tim has a rich and nuanced view on this topic.

Tim Ross is the senior pastor of the multi-ethnic, multi-generational Embassy City Church in Irving, TX. He began preaching at the age of 20, and his dynamic teaching style has helped him impact the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

Dr. Jon Chasteen: Today, I have one of my favorite people on the whole planet here, and I’m so excited for you to get to meet him, if you haven’t already. Right today, we have Pastor Tim Ross with us, and he is one of the coolest people in the world. And you’re about to find out why. He has done a lot of really incredible things in his life. He was on staff at the Potter’s House. He was with Gateway Church for a while. And recently, well it’s not even that recently. How long has it been now?

Pastor Tim Ross: Four and a half years.

Jon: Four and a half years. He started a church called Embassy City Church in Irving, Texas, which is where I went to high school, by the way.

Tim: Really?

Jon: Yeah. So, anyways. He’s an amazing man of God. I want you to get to know this guy. I want you to follow him. I want you to listen to his sermons. I want you to read his book that’s coming out very soon. I want to talk about that. Tim, he’s got a book releasing this spring, in 2020, around May 1st, called Upset the World. And I want you to talk about this book for a second, before we dive in.

Tim: Yeah, no worries.

Jon: So, tell us, tell us about this book.

Tim: Yeah. So, this book is a part of the expression of my life. The phrase “upset the world” is used really to talk about underdogs, the David and Goliath kind of stories, the one that’s more impressed in my head is Muhammad Ali saying, “I upset the world” when he knocked out Sonny Liston. But it’s always about something that you didn’t expect, happening. And I believe that the Bible is the most upsetting book that’s ever been written. Jesus’s life is the most upsetting life that’s ever been lived. And his death on the cross and resurrection has afforded us the opportunity to be upset by him, but to spend the rest of our life turning the world upside down with the message of love and hope of Jesus Christ.

Jon: That’s really good. So, what kind of brought this sermon… This book, I’m sure it was a sermon at one point.

Tim: It was.

Jon: What was kind of stirred that up? Was there any specific thing that started stirring that up in you? Was it a passage of scripture? Anything led you to that way?

Tim: Yeah, so Acts 17 is where it came from. These Jews have caused trouble all over the world, now they’re here disturbing our city, too, so it was said of Paul and Silas. But in my own life, January 14th of 1996 was the most upsetting, most traumatic event I have ever been through in my life. That’s the day I gave my life to Jesus Christ. It superseded the trauma of sexual molestation. It superseded the trauma of pornography addiction. It superseded the trauma of environmental dangers, growing up in a rough part of Los Angeles. There is bad trauma, and there’s good trauma, too. And so, to live a life that has been upset, dedicated to upsetting others, is just the best way I think anybody can live.

Jon: I love the play on that word, because in a world where we try to use calming words, we want peace, and we want… We don’t want calamity. We want calm.

Tim: Right, right.

Jon: And I love the use of this word upset. And I think it’s something that would shock us a little bit to hear a word called upset that we’re supposed to be upset. We’ve learned our whole life that we shouldn’t be upset at anything.

Tim: Right, exactly, yeah.

Jon: So, I love that. And that kind of really talks about, leads us into this topic that I want to talk to you about, one that I think is really important in the body of Christ. And this is the Church Intention Podcast, where we talk about things that are intentioned, these tension points, that they’re not necessarily things that we have to fix, they’re just tensions that we manage.

Tim: Yeah, for sure.

Jon: And how do we manage these tensions as pastors and as people in ministry? And we’re going to talk about this today, because I want to start by saying something that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, he said that, “11:00 AM on Sunday mornings is the most segregated hour of the entire week.” Which is a pretty shocking thing to hear.

Jon: But when we really stop and think about it, it’s true.

Tim: Yeah, it is.

Jon: Unfortunately.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: And so, whenever you started Embassy City, you have to correct me on the stat here, but it was one of, or was it not, the most segregated zip code in America?

Tim: No, it was the most racially diverse zip code.

Jon: Racially diverse zip code.

Tim: In the United States of America, because New York was number two.

Jon: I hope y’all just heard that. I mean, that’s crazy. So, talk us through that. How did that look? Was it there on purpose?

Tim: Yeah. So, I could have never have imagined that any zip code in Texas wouldn’t be so racially diverse that it would knock out Miami, New York, LA, Chicago, all of these different places.

Jon: And DFW.

Tim: And all of the DFW metroplex?

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: This zip code stood as this beautiful representation of America, right? All of it, like, put all the history and pour it into a zip code. No ethnicity over 25%.

Jon: Wow.

Tim: So, you’re talking about, I call it a salad. When people talk about diversity as a melting pot, I just think it’s the wrong picture, because if it’s all melted together, you can’t tell what is what? So, it’s a salad, right? I want my cucumbers to be cucumbers. I want my tomatoes to be tomatoes. I want my pepperoncinis to be pepperoncinis.

Jon: You’re making me hungry.

Tim: Yeah. I don’t want it all blended together.

Jon: That’s really good, yeah.

Tim: Because that’s nasty.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: Yeah. So, we wanted to plant this church. The Lord led us there. It wasn’t like we saw the demographic was like, “Ooh, cool. Let’s plan there.” The Holy Spirit had led us there. I did my research. I found out that it was that diverse. And then the commitment was that this church must look like this community. And the only way to do that is through intentionality.

Jon: Yeah. How do you intentionally do that then? What are some of the things you set out to do? If we, if this church has to represent this community, how do we do that?

Tim: Yeah. So, you said something at the beginning, talking about Dr. King’s statement about 11:00 AM being the most segregated hour in America. The only thing that breaks down segregation is agitation. And it’s the only way you’re going to break down segregation.

Jon: Wow. That’s good.

Tim: So, having the thought in your mind that “We want to be diverse.” Having the thought in your heart that “We want to be diverse.” Looking into scripture and going, “We must be diverse” is not going to make your church diverse. Right? So, what has to happen is you need agitation. The example that I always use is, you can’t get chocolate milk without adding chocolate. But if you were to scoop out some chocolate powder and put it in milk, you still don’t have chocolate milk. You have chalky milk, right? Because you have one substance sitting on top of the others. It’s not broken down. So, you need to put a blender in there, or you need to put a spoon in there, and you need to agitate it. You have to break down two things until they become one. The reason why segregation still exists in 2020, is because there’s not enough agitation to disintegrate segregation. And so, you got one thing on top of the other, or we wait into a crisis happens, and we stand next to each other. That doesn’t mean we’re diverse.

Jon: No, it does not.

Tim: That just means you got a white dude and a black dude standing next to each other singing Kumbaya. Right?

Jon: That’s exactly right.

Tim: So, until you have those change agents, those agitators, that come in and say, “Hey, we’re going to intentionally do that. And here’s how it looks.” I’m an African-American man, who’s about to plant a church, and I want it to be diverse, which means our staff must be intentionally diverse, ethnically. I can’t close my eyes and just pray that I have Caucasians and Hispanics and Filipinos and Southeast Asians. I have to look for them. “Well, aren’t you being disingenuous if you look for them?” No. If that’s what you’re saying you want.

Jon: Be intentional.

Tim: You have to be intentional. Now I’m going to hire the most qualified person, at the of the day. But I’m looking for people that don’t look like me.

Jon: That’s good.

Tim: When we have worship services, we’re looking for people that don’t look like us to be represented on the platform. We’re looking for people to greet at the door that don’t look like us, so that when people walk in off the street, subconsciously, they’re looking for themselves. We would love to think that everyone that’s coming to church is coming to see Jesus. They’re coming to see themselves first.

Jon: That’s good, yeah.

Tim: “Am I here? Do I belong here?” Is one of the things. “Do I see myself here?” And the only way you can see yourself there is if it’s in leadership. If it’s not in leadership at the highest levels, then what you’re saying is, “You can be here, but not at the top.”

Jon: That’s really good.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: So, how does that cross over even into, your church is an incredibly diverse area. Does that cross over, and how can a pastor be intentional if there are churches in white suburbia or the inner city?

Tim: Yeah, absolutely.

Jon: So, talk through that. So, I’m like, “How do you do the same things?” Because I think this is where it really gets difficult for a lot of pastors. And this is what I love about you, Tim, is we can just be crazy blunt with each other.

Tim: Yeah, for sure.

Jon: Because that’s the tension. That’s the rub. We’re upsetting it. We’re mixing it up. And I love, you’ve told a story before about a white pastor that had pastored a church close to you, and you guys had this really candid conversation. And sometimes I feel like we’re not candid enough.

Tim: We’re not.

Jon: And so, we never agitate enough-

Tim: That’s right.

Jon: To find out one another’s heart.

Tim: Yeah, absolutely.

Jon: So, what are some of your thoughts on, I guess, reversing back to my original question. Is it applicable in all churches?

Tim: It’s not. That’s the bottom line. I had the distinct privilege of serving at the Potter’s House in Dallas, Texas.

Jon: Totally. Go there. Yes, I know where you’re going.

Tim: Gateway.

Jon: Yes.

Tim: 30 miles away from each other. I never had to leave the metroplex. Got to serve two great leaders. I won the human lottery of pastors, twice.

Jon: Right.

Tim: Okay. But in South Dallas, where it’s 88% to 90% African-American, you’re not going to have a salad as diverse as if you’re in Irving where I am.

Jon: A hundred percent.

Tim: Okay. The stat in Southlake is 97% Caucasian.

Jon: Wow.

Tim: So, it’s going to be, it’s going to take a little bit more intentionality to get diversity in a place that the surrounding doesn’t have a demographic as diverse as that. It can still happen, but you have to be more intentional to get that to happen.

Jon: Right. So, tell us the story about that pastor. I want our listeners to hear that. You were, I’m going off memory, you were trying to work with a local church. I’m going to mess it up. Do you know what I’m talking about?

Tim: I do. I know what you’re talking about. So, one of my dear friends, Mark McCartney, he is a coach Bill McCartney’s son, that used to do Promise Keepers and all that. I was the Young Adult Pastor at Potter’s House at the time. And he wanted to diversify a young adult event that he used to have every year. And so, he came to me and he said, “Hey, man, I’m trying to make this more diverse, but I can’t get any inner city participation.” So, I’m like, “Okay, let’s sit down. Let’s talk.” And so, we sit down and he’s like, “Yeah, I can’t get any in the inner cities to really collaborate with me.” I was like, “Well, let me see your promotional materials.” So, he shows me the promotional material, and I looked at it and I said, again, agitation. I said, “Oh, it looks like you only want white people to go to the event.”

Jon: I love this.

Tim: And he was like, “What? No.” I was like, “But your advertisement basically says, “I only want white people to go to heaven. I only want these type of white people to go to heaven, upper middle class, white people.” Okay. So, he’s like, “No, that’s not what I want at all.” I said, “Okay, whether you want it or not, this is what you’re projecting. When you go into the inner city with this flyer, here’s what you’re saying. So, you haven’t built a relationship. You’ve dropped this off and said, “Come be a part.” There’s no relational connection that would make somebody to cross that street.”  And so, then we started having the most Holy Spirit-inspired, agitating conversations of all time, which I love to be a part of, because I don’t like tension, but I do like alleviating it.

Jon: The results of it.

Tim: Yeah, right. You’ve got to get into the tension to resolve it. I like to shoot white elephants. Right? The white elephant in the room. Right? Shoot him 50 capsules.

Jon: Absolutely.

Tim: We’ll split him apart. Just get rid of it.

Jon: I like it.

Tim: So, then he started to be honest, and he goes, “Well, I’m just going to be honest with you. I’m really nervous about inviting Pentecostals into our space, because I’m afraid you’re going to speak in tongues. He just went down all the stereotypes, right? I’m afraid you’re going to speak in tongues. Black people are late. They usually to go over time. He was just being-

Jon: Your vulnerability caused him to become vulnerable.

Tim: Absolutely. And now here’s the thing. Agitation works best when there’s no offense taken.

Jon: Yes. So, was there a relationship prior?

Tim: No. There was no relationship prior. No.

Jon: There wasn’t?

Tim: No.

Jon: Wow.

Tim: But, I have a grace to go first. Right? I’m just going to let it out, and then we can figure it out from there. “I don’t understand what you meant.” “Well, let’s just talk it out.”

Jon: Let’s talk about it.

Tim: Let’s talk it out. But if there is a fence in the heart, then we’re never going to get to the place where we really, truly have diversity, unity. Because if everything you say triggers me, or if everything I say triggers you, then we can’t get past our offenses. So, I have no offense in my heart against any Caucasians, even when they say racist stuff.

Jon: That’s good.

Tim: Okay? Because the majority of racist stuff-

Jon: Ignorance.

Tim: Comes from ignorance.

Jon: 100%.

Tim: It doesn’t come from hatred.

Jon: 100%.

Tim: You have to work hard for it to come from hatred.

Jon: That’s really good.

Tim: The ability to hate is a skill that is learned over time.

Jon: That’s really good.

Tim: And the ability to hold on to hate? Man, I’m impressed by people like that.

Jon: That takes a lot of work.

Tim: I don’t have the energy to hate right though.

Jon: That’s true. You’re right though. If you understand that, even if somebody does come at you that way, if you can see through the pain, and see that it’s ignorance.

Tim: Yeah, absolutely.

Jon: It gives you the ability to approach it in a healthy way, too.

Tim: Because think about it. The majority of us are in our own bubbles. And so, there are white bubbles and black bubbles and Hispanic bubbles and Asian bubbles, and all these different bubbles. Until you are brave enough to have it popped by someone else, or you pop it yourself. You have decades, right, of misinformation, prejudice.

Jon: Yeah. You’ve been nurtured.

Tim: Stereotype. America has done a brilliant job of reminding everybody who they are, and who they’re not. Pick up People magazine.

Jon: That’s good.

Tim: What you’ll recognize very quickly is-

Jon: I’m not there.

Tim: You’re broke.

Jon: Yeah. A hundred percent.

Tim: Right.

Jon: I’m ugly and broke.

Tim: Right. I’m not the most beautiful person in the world, and I don’t have their money. So, because America has done such a good job at doing that, the narrative that we must be reinforcing at all times is a Biblical narrative, and not America’s narrative. That’s where we shoot too low in the conversation, is we always start with America’s history, as opposed to starting with the Biblical narrative, and having that inform how we’re supposed to deal with America’s narrative.

Jon: So, what’s some super practical things that pastors could do? I could imagine, I mean, really what you need to create is conversation.

Tim: Absolutely.

Jon: And so, maybe it’s meeting with other pastors, but maybe it’s pulling people aside from your congregation that are a different color, a different gender, and just maybe asking them, “How do you feel? How does this church make you feel?”

Tim: Absolutely. And that conversation is best had over a meal, because people are more relaxed when they’re eating.

Jon: That’s good. Otherwise, I think they’re in trouble. The pastor wants to see me. What have I done wrong?

Tim: Absolutely. And you can really accelerate it if you have that meal in your home.

Jon: That’s true.

Tim: Invite them into your space, this whole neutral ground, “Let’s meet at Chipotle and hash it out.”

Jon: That’s good.

Tim: That ain’t going to work. The reason why most people don’t have genuine compassion, as it relates to diversity, is because they don’t have it in their personal life.

Jon: That’s really good. Yeah. And this is an introvert saying, “Come to your home.”

Tim: Oh, absolutely. I mean, it’s the introvert that has a small group in his home.

Jon: That’s awesome.

Tim: So, how brave am I?

Jon: That’s right.

Tim: So, it has to go past the, “Hey, I have a pastor friend who’s white. You have a pastor friend who’s black, and I have them on speed dial for the next racial shooting.”

Jon: So, good.

Tim: Right?

Jon: That’s what I love about Tim. He just says it.

Tim: Yeah, I mean.

Jon: I love it.

Tim: Right? And it’s like oh…

Jon: It’s true though.

Tim: “Well, I’m not one of them, because I have a black friend.”

Jon: “I invited them to the prayer rally.”

Tim: Exactly. “I have white friends, so it’s not me.” If these people are not at your, in the rhythm of 365 days, everybody you talk to is black, you don’t have diversity in your heart.

Jon: Wow.

Tim: If everybody you talk to is white in 365 days, you haven’t broke bread with any person of color-

Jon: That’s really good.

Tim: Then you don’t have diversity in your heart, and you found a way to live in your bubble. I’m not mad at you. It’s just not biblical.

Jon: Exactly. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person.

Tim: No.

Jon: It just means we need to upset some things. We just need to get agitated.

Tim: It just means you’ve completely missed Matthew 28.

Jon: Wow. That’s good.

Tim: You have not discipled all nations. You’ve discipled people you’re comfortable with.

Jon: That’s good. What do you think about, I like your stance on this, I want you to talk about it. What do you think about racial reconciliation?

Tim: It’s not a thing.

Jon: That’s what I want you to unpack. I love this.

Tim: Yeah, it’s not a thing. I understand what they want it to be. But I’m a wordsmith. I live with words. Right? So, reconcile means to restore to a previous relationship. What was that? Slave boats? I can’t even be here-

Jon: We’re going to back to that?

Tim: Yeah, yeah. I can’t even be on this podcast with you if I could, you know what I’m saying? I can bring some water, call you master.

Jon: Oh my gosh.

Tim: But I couldn’t, I couldn’t do much more than that. Right? So, reconcile is not what we want.

Jon: We don’t want to go back.

Tim: No, we want resolution.

Jon: Yes.

Tim: Let’s acknowledge what the past was.

Jon: And resolve.

Tim: Resolve that it was wrong. Just say it was wrong.

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: No reparations, no more public apologies on behalf of a whole race to another, just flat out say it was wrong. Look to scripture and go scripture is right. He took Jews and Gentiles and in one body, created a new people. That’s how he resolved it. He loves nations, but he only sees those that are in covenant, and those that don’t have covenant. There are Jews and everybody else. There is covenant and everybody else. Jews, Gentiles. In one body, he reconciled two people to himself. That’s what we should be shooting for. That’s why we can enjoy diversity now. Not because America has come up with a policy. You can’t legislate hate.

Jon: Right. The government, fixed it.

Tim: Right. Like, “Hey, from now on, no more segregation.” Cool. I’ll just move to this neighborhood, and price it so they can’t move here with us. So, you can’t legislate hate. If that’s a spirit, you’re not going to get rid of it. Racism. You’re never going to get rid of racism. It’s the spirit of division. It’s never going to be resolved. What we have to do is address from a biblical narrative, what needs to be said to America’s problem, because it should not be the kingdom’s problem. The only why it becomes the kingdom’s problem, is because more people have America’s narrative than biblical.

Jon: And we adopt America’s narrative.

Tim: Yeah, and we feed it into the church, and then it looks like America more than it looks like the kingdom of heaven.

Jon: Yeah. Yeah. So, what’s some really good practical things that a pastor… So, let’s say there’s a pastor out there listening that is really vibing on this, and they’re like, “Man, this is awesome. I need this. My church needs this.” What are some practical things they could do, even this week or next week, or both from the pulpit or off the pulpit, what’s some things they could be doing to begin to upset?

Tim: Yeah, absolutely.

Jon: You know?

Tim: Start with yourself. Right? Before you get so inspired by this podcast that you’re ready to preach a five week series on diversity, make sure it’s in your life, integrated into your life first. Feel it. Become aware of it. That way you won’t run up to that mic, and say something stupid because it’s never been buffered by a person that’s different than you.

Jon: You haven’t lived it out before you’ve preached it out.

Tim: You haven’t lived it out. Say something stupid in private, and let them correct you first.

Jon: That’s so true.

Tim: Like, “Man, that there isn’t funny. Don’t even say that. Right?

Jon: No, don’t say that. Don’t say that. Don’t even say that. No, no, no, no.

Tim: As opposed to, “I’m going to do this.” You can get up there and say something, and then your whole church is like “Ooh! I brought my black friend, and you said what?” Or, “I brought my white friend, and you just said what?” So, it needs to play out in your own life first. It needs to play it at your table. It needs to play out in your meetings. I love the fact that I have different people around our table, because I’m always informed by all these different perspectives, that when I get ready to say something from the pulpit, I’m like, “Here’s the way African-Americans are going to take that. Here’s the way Caucasians are going to take that. Here’s a way my Southeast Asian friend Raji is going to take that.” Because I had a conversation with him when he was at my small group, and he told me a whole story that I never even knew that perspective existed.

Brown people are going through something in this country that black people are not going through. Right? There’s brown Mexican, there’s brown Indian. And they’re having two different narratives in this country. And we need to, I need to be sensitive to that. The gospel has to be inclusive enough for all of these people to say Amen to.

Jon: Because everyone has an answer on how to fix this problem.

Tim: Yeah.

Jon: Is it, for you, it’s less of a movement, less of a speech, less of a revolution, and more going to be a grassroots movement?

Tim: Yeah. It’s a mindset. It’s not a movement, it’s a mindset.

Jon: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Tim: I feel like our thought process around racism in this country, we have to repent of it in the same way we do sin. Right? Repent is not apologizing. Repentance is not saying, “I’m sorry.” It’s changing your mind about the way you think about the way you were living. That’s what repentance is.

Jon: We’re renewing the mind.

Tim: We have to renew the mind. So, I feel like there needs to be a repentance on the entire conversation of racism. We to change the way we’ve been thinking. I’m talking about believing leaders of a movement. King was a prophet to this nation. Right?

Jon: Absolutely.

Tim: He had a prophetic voice that he spoke into this nation, and it was coming from scripture, which is why it’s endured.

Jon: Yeah. That’s why it’s lasted.

Tim: That’s why it’s lasted. If it was like a, “Aha, this is a cool little thing. Malcolm has his little deal. I think I’m going to talk about dreams.” Right. You know what I mean? “He has AK-47. I’m going to March.” Right? No. He got this straight from the Bible. It’s rooted in scripture. And that’s why the ideal has endured. And if it was truly a dream, then it needs to be interpreted. Right? If it’s a speech, it’s going to be analyzed. “Let’s listen to his dream again. Once a year. Let’s try to do it.” But if it’s a dream he had, and we believe it was a prophetic dream, it needs to be interpreted.

Jon: So, how is the church culture obviously, instead of learning from culture, we need to infiltrate culture.

Tim: Absolutely.

Jon: So, how are ways that the church might’ve messed this up over the years? Have we royally messed this up?

Tim: Well, I can tell you, we royally messed it up through years of Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement by just being silent.

Jon: Wow.

Tim: Right?

Jon: Wow.

Tim: Silence is violence.

Jon: Wow. That’s good.

Tim: The church was silently violent, and by being silent, and by… It was two things. By being silent, and by being more influenced by America then the Bible influencing America. We just said, “Well that’s just the law.”

Jon: So, I don’t normally do this, because we record podcasts and release them at different times, but I don’t really care right now. Yesterday we recorded a podcast. I don’t know where it’s going to play, but we recorded a podcast with Landon Schott, and with his book, “the” book. And he wrote this book. If it hasn’t been played yet, called Gay Awareness. And he kind of said the same thing in that realm, that we’ve just been silent. The church is afraid to talk about it, out of ignorance. And I think it’s very similar on this same topic, as most pastors, they don’t know what to say. And so, out of ignorance, we just remained silent. And so, he talked about this boldness that needs to rise up.

Tim: Absolutely.

Jon: But I think the boldness would happen, at least I know it would for me, is if I, off the platform, had these sort of conversations.

Tim: Absolutely.

Jon: And I would get a, I don’t know if comfort is the word, but I get this familiarity with this conversation, and I’m getting perspectives. And then when I stand up behind a microphone, I’m doing it not from my ignorance.

Tim: Absolutely.

Jon: I’m doing it, I’ve dove into this, and I’m working through this. I haven’t arrived. And so, I think that’s important for the church to begin to find a voice.

Tim: We do. We have the voice. The world needs our voice. We just have to be bold enough to speak up. And the Bible is very, very clear. And as ambassadors of Jesus Christ, if we would just simply reflect what the Bible has already written. Right? As ambassadors. We don’t get to have an opinion.

That’s what makes ambassadors different from politicians. Right? Politicians can argue with their party, and the party across from them. An ambassador is obligated to repeat what their sovereign nation or state has said, without any improvisation. Right? They don’t get to add how they feel. You know, “Hey, I don’t want to, but McCain kind of wants it.”

Jon: That’s right.

Tim: You’d get fired, or killed. Right? Like, “This is not what I told you to say.” And so, I think scripture is very, very clear on the golden rule. But it seems like the problem that most American churches have, is that we so desperately want to be understood, that we keep watering down what the word of God says, because we don’t want to offend anybody. The very nature of the gospel message is offensive.

Jon: Is to shake it up, stir it up.

Tim: If you’re not upset, you haven’t preached the gospel.

Jon: One of the things Landon said, he said, “If you’re a pastor, and there’s certain topics that you’re afraid to speak about, whether it’s end times, whether it’s this topic we’re talking about,” he said, “that’s probably your first clue that that’s probably the area you need to dig into the most.”

Tim: That’s right.

Jon: And do some digging. And then, I know I’m just quoting a bunch of different people. Today, I went to lunch with Will Ford, a friend of yours, he’s at CF&I here in Dallas, just has an amazing testimony. But he said this, we were at lunch and we were kind of having the same conversation. And he said, “You have to picture it as a football game. You watch a football game on TV. And you have the home team and the away team. And they both are wearing different color jerseys. And most Christians think that they have to be on one of the teams. I either have to pick this team or this team. And I’ve got to pick team.” And he said, “But we’re not called to be on either team. We’re called to be the umpire.”

Tim: That’s exactly right.

Jon: “We’re the mediator.”

Tim: That’s exactly right.

Jon: We’re here to say, “The umpire is the one that knows the rules. We know the rules, it’s scripture, it’s truth. And so, we come in to throw flags when flags need to be thrown, to both sides.”

Tim: Yeah. That’s exactly right.

Jon: “You’re out of line. You’re out of line. No, you’re out of line. You can’t talk like that.” And I thought that was a great illustration of our role. And I think sometimes pastors are afraid because we don’t… We’re afraid that any word we say, we’re going to pick a side.

Tim: That’s exactly right.

Jon: But we don’t have to pick either side.

Tim: We don’t. This reminds me of one of my core verses for our church, which is 2 Corinthians 5. We are Christ’s ambassadors. Okay.

Jon: Yes.

Tim: We make our appeal and tell people to come back to God to be reconciled to him. That’s the other reason why I ,racial reconciliation doesn’t work because man cannot be reconciled to mankind until they’re reconciled to their God.

Jon: To man. That’s so good. That’s good right there.

Tim: Right? The first murder was two brothers that came out the same womb. So, division will hit you, whether you are a diverse nation like ours, or whether, it’s-

Jon: From the same womb.

Tim: Yeah, yeah. From the same womb. So, I just feel like we need to be bolder about just stating, “This is what we believe. This is what side I’m on. And I know that’s offensive to the world, and you’re never going to get our point of view, unless the scales drop from your eyes, and the Holy Spirit leads you to Jesus. But I can’t change the narrative because you don’t get it.”

Jon: That’s so good.

Tim: The narrative is what it is. Right? These men died and got dipped in tar and were crucified upside down because they couldn’t change the narrative. And then Nero’s persecuting them, and they’re like, “I don’t know what to tell you.”

Jon: That’s so good. I don’t know what to tell you.

Tim: “Denounce it right now, and you can go free.” “Nah, put me upside down. I don’t even deserve to be.”

Jon: That’s so good. I don’t even want it. Just forget it.

Tim: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So.

Jon: Well, thank you, man. Time goes by so fast on these. I was looking down at the clock, and I don’t realize how fast it’s gone by. But what’s one thing that you would say to a pastor or even a lay person that’s just listening to the podcast out there in this realm. Maybe it’s a pastor, whoever it is. What’s one last parting thing that you would just kind of, whether it’s an encouragement or a challenge or whatever you want to say to them?

Tim: Be brave. Be bold. Be God’s.

Jon: I love that.

Tim: Upset the world.

Jon: I love that. How about “Shake it up.” Hey, get his book, y’all, when it comes out on Amazon. It’s called Upset the World. I was about to say… Actually, before we go, I want you to talk about something. I was about to say, “Hey, go on social media, and follow. It’s what I do to all my listeners, “Hey, jump on social media and follow this guy. Get to know him.” They can’t do that.

Tim: Nope.

Jon: Tell us why they can’t do that.

Tim: I’m an introvert, and social media drains me in a way that is not conducive to the way I run my life. The rhythm of my life is just so much better when I get to engage with people one-on-one. I feel like my greatest gifting and grace works in the boardroom, the living room, and the green room.

Jon: That’s good.

Tim: I get to hang out with you in there. And so, there are some people that really influence at a really high level. God’s graced them for social media.

Jon: Absolutely.

Tim: And I cheer them on. I’m not against social media. I love what it’s there for. Our church has a social media, but for me individually, unless I get in your face, and unless I can get that proximity, I just don’t feel like that I’m being as effective as I want to be, for the way I’m wired.

Jon: Well I actually think we’re going to go over a little bit. So, if your listeners, sorry, we’re going to talk about this for a second, because I feel like God wants to say something to a pastor out there in this realm, because I think what happens sometimes is, I talk to pastors all the time who hate social media, but they feel like they have to do it, quote unquote, because they got to stay out there and stay relevant. And sadly, I think some of them think they need it so they can become somebody. Or “I can’t get booked at conferences if I don’t have a social media account.” And what I want them, I want listeners to hear is, is, “Pastor Tim is a guy who has incredible influence. He preaches at some of the largest conferences in America. He’s pastoring a great church, and he doesn’t have it.”

Jon: And so, I think it’s important that we… I just wanted them to hear your heart on social media, because I don’t want pastors out there to think, “Well, I don’t like social media, but I got to do it.” You don’t have to do it.

Tim: So, can I give you a Bible?

Jon: Yes.

Tim: Because I have a Bible for everything.

Jon: I like Bible for this.

Tim: So, I-

Jon: I already know where you’re going. I heard you preach this sermon, and I want you to do this. This is awesome. Say it.

Tim: So, I had already come off social media, and I was like, “Man.” After a few weeks there was this kind of thought of, “Did I make the wrong move? Am I losing influence, blah, blah, blah, blah.” So, the Holy Spirit says, “Hey, I want you to read through the book of John.” So, I start reading through the book of John, and I get to chapter seven. I’m just going to read a few verses. Here’s here’s what it says. “After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. But as soon as it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles. You can’t become famous if you hide like this. If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world.”

Jon: Wow.

Tim: Social media is all about. For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. Here’s Jesus’s response: “Now is not the right time for me to go, but you can go anytime. The world can’t hate you, but it does hate me, because I accuse it of doing evil. You go on. I’m not going to this Festival, because my time has not yet come. After saying these things, Jesus remained in Galilee.”

Tim: Verse number 10. “But after his brothers left for the Festival, Jesus also went, though secretly, staying out of public eye.”

Jon: He still went.

Tim: So, it’s not the fact that I’m not participating. I just don’t go the way you go.

Jon: That’s really good.

Tim: And I read that, and I’m like, “Oh my goodness.”

Jon: Yeah.

Tim: There’s space for me.

Jon: Find your way.

Tim: Yeah, yeah. It’s not like I’m not a real person because I don’t have a social media account. It’s just that I get to impact the people I’m with personally.

Jon: So, good.

Tim: …at a deeper level. And if every single moment was “for the Gram, clink.”

Jon: That’s so good.

Tim: Yeah. It’s not for the Gram, it’s for you.

Jon: Well, sorry about that, listeners. I had to take a little segue there. So, don’t follow him on social media. Don’t follow him at all on social media. He’s nobody on social media. But no, seriously, I do want you to go to the church’s website. I would love for you to check out, what is your church’s website?

Tim: Yeah. It’s just embassycity.com, and we have-

Jon: You were looking up like you didn’t know your own church’s website.

Tim: Yeah. I go there very rarely. But embassycity.com is the website, and then @embassyirving is our social handles.

Jon: Okay. And then they have a podcast, listen to his sermons.

Tim: Yeah, and YouTube channel.

Jon: Right. You’d love Tim’s preaching. He’s genuine. He’s authentic. He’s funny.

Tim: Thank you.

Jon: Full of truth. So, Pastor, thank you for who you are, the man of God you are, and your obedience in the kingdom.

Tim: Thank you, man. I love you, bud.

Jon: Love you, too. Listeners, thank you again for listening. I love you guys so much. Keep doing what you’re doing, living out your call. We believe in you. We’re cheering for you. Go to our website at churchintention.com. Check out more resources. We have articles from faculty at The King’s University and other pastors. We would love to resource you in any way we can. We’re praying for you. We’re cheering you on. Have an amazing day.

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Church InTension
Church InTensionhttps://church-intension.simplecast.com
The Church InTension podcast is a place to have healthy conversations about areas of tension and the intentions of the Church. Hosted by Dr. Jon Chasteen and powered by The King's University and Gateway Church.