The Table Podcast

A Biblical View of Racial Unity

In this episode, Dr. Darrell Bock, Bryan Carter, and Jeff Warren discuss a biblical perspective on racial unity, focusing on a Christian response to the public conversation between Anglo Americans and African Americans. Note: This conversation was recorded before the events of July 2016.

Timecodes
00:50
Carter and Warren discuss their background in ministry
04:06
How Carter began to minister with Warren
11:53
How Carter and Warren built trust together
15:35
Challenges Carter and Warren faced in working together
20:10
What don't Anglos understand about being African-American?
22:50
What do Anglos need to hear?
25:13
Why is the race conversation valuable?
28:59
Warren’s message to African-Americans and Anglos on this issue
31:17
Carter explains ministry within the African-American community
35:45
One example of reconciliation changing society
36:59
Advice for getting started with racial reconciliation and pitfalls to avoid
40:54
Options for building relationships across racial lines within the church
Transcript
Darrell Bock
Welcome to The Table where we discuss issues of God and culture. I’m Darrell Bock, Executive Director for Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center, at Dallas Theological Seminary.

And I have two very distinguished guests with me today. Bryan Carter, senior pastor at the Concord Church here in Dallas, and Jeff Warren, who’s senior past at Park Cities Baptist Church. And they’ve got a wonderful story to tell us about the way in which their ministries work and have come together to a certain degree.

And so, I’m gonna start with you, Bryan. Tell us a little bit about – how did you get to be senior pastor at Concord Church? What’s your background that prepared you for ministry?

Bryan Carter
Well, I’m a native of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and entered ministry as a teenager. Had a heart for ministry and then went off to school. Most of the pastors I knew were bivocational. So, I was gonna be a school teacher, a principal, and a pastor.
Darrell Bock
Oh, wow.
Bryan Carter
Graduated from Oklahoma State. Moved to Dallas and then went to Dallas Seminary. Got on staff at a local church – Concord Church – and not long thereafter, the founding pastor, Dr. E. K. Bailey, would invite me to be his assistant and successor. And so, for now, 12 years, I’ve been there serving faithfully and having the time of my life serving God’s people.
Darrell Bock
That’s great. And you’ve been senior pastor for how long?
Bryan Carter
I’ve been senior pastor for 12 years.
Darrell Bock
For 12 years. So, you’ve been at Concord longer than that.
Bryan Carter
For 15 – 16, since 2000.
Darrell Bock
Oh, wow; oh, wow, okay, very good.

And, Jeff, what’s your pedigree? What’s your story?

Jeff Warren
Yes. I grew up in Charlotte, North Carolina. I felt a calling into ministry while I was in school. I was at East Carolina University where I was – played a little soccer. And I was an art major, if you can believe that.
Darrell Bock
Oh, wow, okay.
Jeff Warren
And so, we talk often about the art of the sermon, the art of leadership and such. But came out here and right out of seminary went to Park Cities to be the youth pastor, actually.
Darrell Bock
Huh.
Jeff Warren
And then from there, after about – what? – eight years I was the youth minister, then became the young adult pastor, and then ultimately over all married adults, associate pastor ultimately under Jim Denison. Dr. Denison was there and served with him for about a year. Then went to – up to First McKinney, where I served for 11 years as the pastor there and thought I was gonna retire there.

And then the Lord called us back to Park Cities, where I’ve been the senior pastor since September – what was that? – 2001, [sic] five years I’ve been there.

Darrell Bock
And so, Park Cities is a Southern Baptist Church, right?
Jeff Warren
Right.
Darrell Bock
And did you – where did you do your seminary training?
Jeff Warren
Yeah, I went to Southwestern back in the day. Interesting –
Darrell Bock
That’s okay. We can excuse that.
Jeff Warren
We have DTS ministers on our staff.
Darrell Bock
There you go; that’s right.
Jeff Warren
And we send folks here as well.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, we sneak into all kinds of strange places.
Jeff Warren
Yeah. Well, hey, shout out to all my – you know, yeah, the Southern Baptists. My grandfather, who was the pastor in Charlotte, First Charlotte, for a while, was the president of the Southern Baptist Convention back when I was – probably before I was born, but anyway, yeah. So, you asked about pedigree; there you go.
Darrell Bock
I love Baptist churches, ’cause you say First – what is it? – First in Charlotte, and I’m going, "It’s First Baptist Church in Charlotte.”
Jeff Warren
Right, right.
Darrell Bock
Versus –
Bryan Carter
Methodist.
Darrell Bock
There’s only one Church, right?
Jeff Warren
Yeah, yeah.
Darrell Bock
So, that’s great. Well, we’re glad to have both of you all with us. And I think I want – I want you all to tell us the story of how your ministries have touched base with each other. And kind of just to set the context for this, I was thinking, “Well, what passage could I possibly mention to kind of set up the conversation?” And I was thinking of the wonderful passage, in Ephesians 2:11-22, that talks about the reconciliation that Jesus Christ brings, not just between individuals and God, but between peoples.
Bryan Carter
Yes.
Darrell Bock
And a wonderful, terrific passage. And reconciliation is one of Paul’s favorite words for what grows out of the Gospel. So, you guys are a living illustration of that. And, Bryan, I think I’ll let you start us on how in the world did you guys end up ministering side by side? I forgot to ask you one question, though, and that is Concord – tell a little bit about its pedigree. We’ve mentioned that Jeff’s at a Southern Baptist Church.
Bryan Carter
So, Concord’s a Baptist Church. We changed our name several years ago in that kind of season, but historically, our roots are deeply rooted in the Baptist Church. And our church is in the southern part of Dallas. It was founded nearly 40 years ago and just built around being a healthy church based on Acts Chapter 2 of fulfilling the Great Commission.
Darrell Bock
Well, that’s great.
Bryan Carter
The theme of our church is We Grow People. And we try – our whole focus is around people growing people by connecting them with their next step with Christ.
Darrell Bock
Oh, that’s great.
Bryan Carter
And so, it’s a joy to watch us try to serve in the community, which is a big part of who we are, as well as helping people to move toward maturity in Christ.
Darrell Bock
Right, that’s great. Okay, so, I’ve got you and Jeff here. So, why are you and Jeff here?
Bryan Carter
So, we’re here because our churches were connected by both of our predecessors. That’s how it originally started. They had a friendship and a kinship some 15 years ago. And so, when the two of us began our ministries, people kept saying, “You all need to know each other.” So, we met; we connected –
Darrell Bock
So, you inherited this relationship.
Jeff Warren
A little bit. I think there was a time, a season when there was a gap there.
Darrell Bock
Uh-huh, uh-huh.
Bryan Carter
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jeff Warren
And even back when I was the – I was over a men’s ministry at a time when I was at Park Cities previously. And we did some things even before E. K. Bailey had left – passed away at that point. But so, there’s some history there for me. But I was told, “Jeff, if there’s any church that kind of mirrors – or a leader in the southern sector of our city that kind of mirrors you, and I think you have a lot in common, it would be Bryan Carter.”

So, we started getting involved in a thing called Movement Day here in Greater Dallas –

Darrell Bock
Yeah, sure.
Jeff Warren
– and became real central to that. And it was through that that we really came to know each other. I think it all started with a lunch. You know?
Darrell Bock
So, the reconnect is actually relatively recently. Am I reading that right?
Bryan Carter
Probably the last two to three years, yeah.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, okay.
Bryan Carter
Probably the last two to three years.
Darrell Bock
Because, as you said, you’ve been senior pastor for 12 years, and you’re five –
Jeff Warren
Five, that’s right.
Darrell Bock
Predecessors, I take it, are E. K. Bailey and Jim Denison. Do I have that right?
Jeff Warren
That’s right; you’re right.
Darrell Bock
Okay. So, they established the relationship, and it – I’m hearing echoes of an experience that I had. We partnered with a church down the road from us. I went to Trinity Fellowship in Richardson with a predominantly African-American church down the road from us. And it went well for about a year-and-a-half, and then it just kind of slowly –
Bryan Carter
Sure.
Darrell Bock
– ’cause everybody gets busy – drifted away. And we never – we never recovered from it. So, I’m – it’s cool to hear that you guys reconnected. So, talk a little bit about that phase of things. You’ve had the relationship, but it’s kind of – it was there but, and you got together. Is it Movement Day that spurred it on, or was it –
Bryan Carter
It was Movement Day and then just us spending time together. So, we’ve had lunch – and then the unique thing that happened was Trayvon Martin, Ferguson, all these dynamics begin to hit the national news.
Jeff Warren
Eric Garner –
Bryan Carter
Eric Garner.
Jeff Warren
Mike Brown.
Darrell Bock
Okay.
Jeff Warren
Then even the Oklahoma –
Bryan Carter
Right, And we began to have a conversation. What happens if that comes to Dallas? How does Dallas respond to something? And we began to realize how divided we were.
Jeff Warren
Yep.
Darrell Bock
Interesting.
Bryan Carter
And so, around that conversation, we began to say, “Okay, how does the Church respond? How should we be preparing for these matters that happen across the country? But how should the Church respond?” So, we began talking about that. And around that conversation, we then began to host roundtables with pastors. He brought five to ten white brothers; I brought five to ten black brothers, and we’d sit around tables at lunch, having conversations around, “What does racial reconciliation look like?”
Darrell Bock
Oh, that’s great.
Bryan Carter
“How is racism evident in the city of Dallas?”
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Bryan Carter
“What is your experiences?” And so, around these tables, pastors are telling their stories, and we’re entering each other’s worlds as we have conversations about – and so, some pastors are saying, “Okay, how do you address it?”

And some are saying, “I don’t talk about those kind of issues at my church.”

Others are saying, “It’s a regular part of my –”

And so, you’ve got all these dynamics in a room. And so, we have a few of these roundtables, just talking. And then, out of that, the Movement Day began to challenge us to say, “What would happen if you guys – why don’t you all think about swapping pulpits?”

Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Bryan Carter
And so, we said, “Okay.” And so, me and Jeff, we decided, “Okay, now let’s take the next step. We’ve been talking about it.” So, last Palm Sunday, not – in – well, not this year, but 2015, we swapped. And so, on Palm Sunday, he’s at my church with his praise team; I’m at his church with my choir.
Darrell Bock
Now, I bet that was exciting.
Jeff Warren
It’s incredible. So, yeah, what really – what triggered it, as we became friends –
Bryan Carter
Yeah.
Jeff Warren
And that’s gonna be the common theme here is – you know, you’ve heard the Gospel travels at the speed of relationships.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Jeff Warren
And for us, it’s been really a theme. I tell people – you know, I don’t just – I love Bryan Carter. I like him. He’s my brother. I love being with him. I’m encouraged by him.

And so, we were – just prior to coming in this room, we were sharing some of the woes and challenges and, “Hey, what you been up to today?” So, we encourage each other. We had lunch a week ago. I mean we get together regularly.

But when we – when Ferguson went down, that was the thing that, for us, we said not so much, “What if,” but, “When that happens in Dallas, are we ready for this? And is the faith community ready to rise up and to speak into it?” And we determined we can’t do so if we don’t know each other.

Darrell Bock
Right.
Jeff Warren
And so, we’ve got to know each other. So, that started with us. But then we realized we needed to share the love, as it were, and get some more brothers together. And that was the series of meetings we had.

We then had another meeting down in really the southern sector, at a church there, and had – gosh, I don’t know how many, 50 –

Bryan Carter
Probably 50 to 60 pastors there.
Jeff Warren
So, more pastors come to just get more and more involved. We’d have discussions around the tables. Fascinating conversations.
Darrell Bock
Yeah. Well, we’re gonna come back to that, ’cause that’s an important part of the conversation. You remind me of a conversation that we’ve had at the Hendricks Center.

We had a Hispanic pastor and an Anglo pastor call us about nine months ago. Went out to eat, and their concern was basically the same. They lived in Mesquite, and they said, “You know, we’ve been looking at what’s been going on around the country, and we’ve gotten to know one another, and we’re encouraging –

And we’re actually talking to the Police Department about what happens if this explodes, and how can we not respond, as some law enforcement have responded, that kind of thing, to keep this from – something like this from happening and blowing up our community. So, it’s not an isolated conversation –

Jeff Warren
That’s right, right, right.
Darrell Bock
– by any means. It’s an important one.

So, let’s talk – you know, this area, to be honest, really scares some people for different reasons.

Jeff Warren
Sure.
Darrell Bock
And so, in one sense, for African-American community, it’s a difficult discussion, and for the Anglo community, it’s a different discussion. So, you put everybody in the same room at the same time, I bet that’s a pretty interesting deal.

What – I guess my first question is what kind of efforts did you make, or did you make any efforts to kind of build some initial trust before you walked into all this sensitivity – the sensitive discussion?

Jeff Warren
I think so. I’d say this real quick, that in terms f trust between the two of us, again it just takes time. And that’s where a pastor has to decide, with issues that are larger than what he’s dealing with on a regular basis in his church, we all have got enough to say –
Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Jeff Warren
– in our place. Right?
Darrell Bock
Right.
Jeff Warren
So, you’ve got to decide, “I’m gonna spend about ten percent of my time or so outside, in leadership in the community, in the city.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Jeff Warren
Bryan does this in big ways. You know, I seek to be involved in a lot of ways as well. We were invited to this Operation Blue Shield with the Police Department to speak about issues. So, we’ve been – you know, it’s been great that it’s opened doors for us.

But the initial thing for us was in regard to just pastor to pastor. He came and spoke during a Lenten season. I came – we came together for some city-wide prayer initiatives that we had. So, we really started to get to know each other, see each other publically, preaching and such. So, on a personal level, there was trust built.

And then I think, with the pastors – again, just to get ’em together to spend time together is how you build trust. Get to know each other.

Bryan Carter
And part of it is he used his credibility with the pastors he knew. I used mine. And so, they were taking a risk, where they’re entering this room –
Darrell Bock
Yeah, absolutely.
Bryan Carter
– and they don’t know each other.
Darrell Bock
Right, right.
Bryan Carter
And they’re at these tables. But we both lend it all we could to say, “Okay, this is –” I think when the national context was so vivid and so powerful, that someone had to say something. And so, I think – and there was some apprehension. I mean you could see –
Darrell Bock
Oh, absolutely.
Bryan Carter
– some guys, you know, being very reserved. You could see some – and so they’re trying to – and then, sometimes there’s some theological differences. I mean there’s all kinds of dynamics happening culturally, both in the Church, both in the city. I mean just trying to work through, “Okay, is it really still alive? Is race –”

And they’d say, “Yes, I was at this mall, and this is what happened.”

And so, you’re hearing these – just trying to understand. And in many cases, just ignorance So, what happens when you’re pulled over? How do you feel?

Darrell Bock
Right.
Bryan Carter
How do you feel when you’re pulled over?
Darrell Bock
Right, right.
Jeff Warren
Right.
Bryan Carter
And just talking through these kind of scenarios, we’re helpful, I believe, because it allowed us just to get a broader context than what we’re just seeing in the news.
Darrell Bock
Yeah. And another thing that we’ve been very involved with here on our campus is that we’ve had two what are called privilege walks for our students in which we get them to probe the differences and backgrounds of people who come to seminary with, that kind of thing.
Jeff Warren
Fantastic.
Darrell Bock
And there – you know, it’s an interesting exercise, because some people really appreciate the fact that we have. Some people really are not happy that we’re doing it. But we feel like, “If I’m gonna get people to think about what it is, who their neighbor is, and how they’re gonna love their neighbor, and how they’re gonna engage with their neighbor, then this is – these are important, frank conversations to have.”

And frankly, if we can’t have ’em in the Church, where we’ve got so much in common, then where are we gonna have ’em?

Jeff Warren
We’re in trouble, right.
Bryan Carter
That’s right.
Darrell Bock
So, let’s talk a little bit – so, okay, so, I’m pulling you through the story here. So, you’ve got these pastors together. You’ve played your – you’ve each played your trust card with the crew that you brought in. You lay out on the table among other things it’s gonna be racism and whether racism still exists, which I can assume is not an easy topic to raise with a group of guys just meeting each other. And what hurdles did you have to overcome? [Laughs]
Jeff Warren
I think one, on the white side – and let me back up to say, you know, our church is – we both come from very large churches, and our church is white. I mean it’s white. Right? We have Hispanic – in a portion of our congregation, en Español –
Darrell Bock
The street’s even almost white going by your church.
Jeff Warren
So, we kinda – but there’s some levity there. We joke about that. You know, there’s some humor in the midst of it all. But I’m telling you, in a lot of white churches, it seems there is this sense that racism is not an issue.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Jeff Warren
And then you watch the television, and you realize, “Wait, maybe that’s a problem somewhere.” And there’s an underlying issue that people must address, and it’s a Gospel issue. You referenced Ephesians 2. You know, Paul said that He – that Christ has broken down, in His own flesh, the dividing wall. And clearly that’s our sin. But we – Bryan and I see it as a core Gospel issue. And the Church has got to lead the way. We’ve said the love of Christ compels us, and the Gospel is the reason and the motivation.

So, what we did find, to answer your question, is I think there as a high motivation on the part of the pastors we –

Darrell Bock
Yeah, that’s why you show up at something –
Jeff Warren
Oh, man, they got there and said, “We’re all in.” And then it went beyond our expectations, I think. That’s not to say that it wasn’t difficult. You know, you start to discover that white privilege is a real thing. It’s not talked about.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Jeff Warren
You know, you have no idea the privilege that you had as a white person in our culture.
Darrell Bock
What you take for granted as being a given in life is not a given for everybody.
Jeff Warren
That’s right.
Darrell Bock
Yeah, yeah.
Bryan Carter
Sure.
Jeff Warren
That’s right. And to watch the news, and we only get clips of something happening and – it’s so good. And to have Scripture as the backdrop – right? – the truth that guides us among men who love one another and love the Lord.
Darrell Bock
Okay. Well, Bryan, from your angle, when this went out on the table, I can imagine a couple of things. One is the – even the decision to speak to this, from an African-American perspective, to an audience full of white pastors, is quite a move. So, talk about the hurdles as you see them and how you try to negotiate ’em.
Bryan Carter
You know, I think one of the aims – one of the things I appreciate about Jeff is his willingness to help partner with me in this conversation. I think a lot of times, when an African-American pastor or church does it alone, it just – you don’t gain the ground. Sometimes it can be misinterpreted. But by his partnership, it just – it gave a voice to it.
Darrell Bock
So, he’s like hacking away at the vegetation in the room and creating space for the conversation.
Bryan Carter
It gives just a – ’cause it doesn’t happen often. You know? It’s not often that we’re willing to step in the way he has. And so, that helped so much to help deal with some of the barriers.

And then not only that, but then just – I think, as he mentioned, I think there was a readiness that was in the room. I mean I just – I think when you saw the marches, when you saw Black Lives Matter, all these dynamics happening, and then you begin to present what is the Church’s role in all of this, it just seemed as though genuinely there was a – now, there was some skepticism about what goals – does this really man anything? Will anything come of this?

Darrell Bock
Right, right.
Bryan Carter
There was some of that in the room. But at the same time, there’s a hopefulness. There’s a thread of hope that perhaps we’re onto something, perhaps this can really help us to move forward. And so, you know, it was worth the risk.

But I think, at the same time, I don’t think I realized just the differences that were in that room either. ‘Cause not – like I said before, it’s not just color: it’s theologically; it’s denominationally. You’ve got all these dynamics in the room – just how they view the Church.

And so – but it was worth it. You know, it was worth it, having those candid conversations to help us move forward and help us think more broadly about the Gospel.

Darrell Bock
Okay, I’m gonna take a shot at this. We don’t have a whole lot of time before the break, but I’m gonna take a shot at this. I’m gonna ask you a difficult question, but I think it’s an important question. It’s a question I actually asked Tony Evans at the beginning of a podcast we did months ago about the same topic, and it goes like this: what is it that Anglos don’t get about being African-American in the United States?
Darrell Bock
You laugh, but yeah.
Bryan Carter
Yeah, that’s a good question; that’s a good question. Wow. I guess primarily, kinda building on what was mentioned before about white privilege, just the realities that we face every single day. That although slavery and the Civil Rights movement, all those things have happened, it does not mean that the playing field is now level. And some of the remnants of those 400 years and 60 – those remnants still live long after that are played out every day in our lives.

So, regardless of how progressive things have become, I think often Anglo-Americans don’t understand the dynamic – the challenges, the realities that we face every single day, that racism is something I can’t – I can’t get beyond it.

Darrell Bock
That’s right.
Bryan Carter
I mean it’s just – it’s my everyday reality. I have to view the lens through the fact that whether it’s the educational space, whether it’s my professional career, whether where my kids go to school, whether it’s the neighborhood we live in, all of these dynamics shape us and, in many cases, limit us in terms of us really achieving what would be so-called the American dream. I mean there are dynamics there –
Darrell Bock
There’s a reality, if I can try and describe this in different words –
Bryan Carter
Sure.
Darrell Bock
There’s a reality in which African-Americans or any minority – this would be true of any minority, I think –
Bryan Carter
Sure.
Darrell Bock
Has to accommodate itself –
Bryan Carter
Most definitely.
Darrell Bock
– to the larger culture in a way that people who are a part of a majority culture don’t have to accommodate themselves.
Bryan Carter
I was getting that right there.
Darrell Bock
And so, that makes a difference. Another difference – this is one of the ones that Tony mentioned that I found fascinating – you know, he looked at me, and he said, “How often have you been pulled over, going through a neighborhood, just because of the color of your skin?
Bryan Carter
Sure.
Darrell Bock
You didn’t do anything. You’re just being pulled over.
Bryan Carter
Yep.
Darrell Bock
And it didn’t take me long to go through that question.
Bryan Carter
Sure, sure.
Darrell Bock
That’s never happened.
Jeff Warren
Right.
Darrell Bock
And so, we don’t even see how some of this works it’s –
Bryan Carter
No. It’s – so, when I go to school, I have to not only get a – be able to get a degree, but I also have to get a degree n understanding white culture. It’s mandatory for me in order to be successful or have some type of – I have to understand the culture as much as I do any other academic pursuit that I have.
Darrell Bock
Let me ask you another question that won’t be easy. I’m glad we got time for this one, and it goes like this, “What’s the one – what’s one thing –” I won’t say the one thing – “What’s one thing that Anglos need to hear that they may not want to hear, but it’s important that they get about the African-American experience in our culture?”
Bryan Carter
Hmm.
Darrell Bock
I imagine a hard –

Your time’s coming, by the way.

Darrell Bock
So?
Bryan Carter
I guess an appreciation for the story. They have to value our story and not think that, because of the progress, that that story is accomplished or fulfilled or – but they have to understand just the reality of that story. That the plight of what African-American men face with so many being incarcerated, the low rate from college grad – I mean these are dynamics – the impact of poverty on our community – they have to really understand and appreciate the story.
Darrell Bock
And the history of even how that cycle got started –
Bryan Carter
That’s right.
Darrell Bock
Which most people don’t even – I would say most Anglos don’t even think about. They don’t think about the fact that African-American family units were broken up by default.
Bryan Carter
Right, right, right.
Darrell Bock
And so, functioning without a family unit was not a given.
Bryan Carter
Right, right, right. And so, the threads and roots of those issues still remain. I mean the impact of mass incarceration the last 20 to 30 years. And so, I think it’s understanding the story. So, I think when white Americans understand the story and value the story, then that allows us to be able to – that’s so important to understanding us.

When they view us as an exception to the rule because we’ve had some level of success or categorize what they see on TV and say, “Look at those young men,” then I think it hinders us from really having the relationships we ought to have or the reconciliation. ‘Cause reconciliation can never happen without an appreciation in valuing the other person. And valuing another person means valuing your story, your history in terms of where you’ve come from.

And so, I think stepping in that space – and even asking questions, helping people to understand, all of that is crucial to be able to get to where we need to be.

Darrell Bock
M-kay.
Jeff Warren
That’s good.
Darrell Bock
Jeff, it’s your turn. Okay?
Jeff Warren
Okay.
Darrell Bock
Here’s the question for you, and that is – you’ve done some work in this area, and I’m sure you’ve learned some things in the midst of doing it, but what’s something you would say – and it’s a two-fold question – first to the Anglo community about why this is a valuable discussion and what they need to get out of it, and then secondly, what would you flip the question – what would you say to an African-American audience about where the white community comes from on this? So, it’s – so, I’ll let you pick it in whatever order you want.
Jeff Warren
Well, I’ll answer the first one with kind of a story and jump on what Bryan’s been talking about. During the – you know, when the Black Lives Matter movement came about, I was – I posted some things after Eric Garner was – you know, after he died and posted with some hashtag Black Lives Matter, knowing what I was gonna get.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Jeff Warren
And it happened. People started responding, “All lives matter.” And immediately I’m thinking, “You missed the point.” The point being that you white people – sorry, and this is where I’m helpful, I think, for Bryan – I can speak to you white people – right?
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Jeff Warren
In a way that maybe he can’t in some ways.

So, in my position, I can say, “Listen, you don’t know what it’s like to grow up in a culture where you think people are questioning whether your life matters or not.” That’s the black experience, that perhaps the people are questioning whether my life matters. And most of us white people don’t – we don’t – we’ve never had that experience.

So, I took – for instance, one of the things we did with my staff, I took my ministerial staff to Selma, the movie. And it came out a year ago or so. And I remember sitting in – then we debriefed afterwards, talked about it, which I challenge ever pastor leader to do. I think for white people to see the story again, if we don’t see it, if we don’t learn from someone, like a friend like I have in Bryan and others, if we don’t read a lot, you can watch.

And what I remember was they showed the scenes in Selma at night, when the riots were started or broken up – I mean the marches, I should say. Police coming in. And they were exactly the same pictures that we’re seeing on the news presently at Ferguson and other places. I mean they look exactly like Ferguson.

And see, in the black mind, from generation to generation, or just a couple of generations, that’s in – that’s their story. That’s not the white man’s story. You know, that is in the thread and the DNA of a black person’s experience.

And so, to step into that story, as Bryan said, is so important for white people to recognize that there’s been a different story for the African-American. And I would say this, too, that it’s been helpful for me to read.

You know, most white pastors don’t realize that the letter from the Birmingham jail, Dr. King’s letter was to me. It was to the white man who was deciding, “Let’s don’t get involved.” To the moderate white who said, “I’m gonna stay out of this.” And he’s calling ’em out.

So, I would challenge all white pastors to read his letter. But back to your question, I think the thing that – you know, I have learned so much through this time because, again, as a white man, you know, I didn’t grow up with this kind of oppression and kind of racism that many have experienced.

Darrell Bock
So, now, what would you say to an African-American who is trying to understand you and to some – and perhaps, to some degree, the Anglo community that seems splintered in its reaction, if I can say it that way? There are some people who are sensitive. There are some people who want to just sit on the sidelines. There certainly are other people who are bothered by the fact that we’re even having the conversation.
Jeff Warren
Sure.

So, what would you say to – this is your chance.

Jeff Warren
Well, to the black – to the African-American –
Darrell Bock
To the African-American about the mixture of Anglo reaction.
Jeff Warren
Yeah. Okay, well, one thing I said from his pulpit recently, in light of one of the craziest political seasons I think we’ve ever seen in our country –
Darrell Bock
Yeah. That’s a whole nother podcast we’re not doing right now.
Jeff Warren
But I reference that – I’ve referenced that, and I told his congregation, I said, “Listen, just hear me. Not all white people are crazy.” I just want to leave it there, but – and what I – and then what I went into or have talked about is, you know, there are those who – there are white people who want to be part of the solution. Because the challenge is, and what I tell my people – you know, we have folks in our church of great influence in the city, and it becomes a justice issue.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Jeff Warren
When you’re in places of power and authority, and you do nothing to help the situation, the plight of the African-American or the poor or whoever that might be – white, Hispanic, or otherwise.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Jeff Warren
So, that’s one of the challenges that I’ve brought to our people there. But I think – back to – the message for the African-American, I think, is to, gosh, continue to be gracious and forgiving. And that’s all that I have found when I’ve come among my brothers and gone into the African-American churches, particularly Concord Church, just so much grace that comes my way.

But that would be the thing is to continue to be patient and humble and know that not everybody’s informed. And then – so, the – so, they need to understand that there are those of us who are working, there are those who are for helping white folks come along in their understanding.

Darrell Bock
Hmm. Now, Bryan, one aspect, and you’ve alluded to this already, is the disruption of African-American society that actually lasts for several generations. I mean one of the typical Anglo responses to the situation in African-American society is to say, “Well, my goodness, there’s so much violence, and there’s so much crime, and there’s –” you know? Or it’s, “There’s so much familial dysfunction. And so, I suspect that one of the reasons Concord exists is to grow people, is to try and be a factor in reversing all of this.
Bryan Carter
Sure, sure.
Darrell Bock
Explain to them – explain to our audience how you seek to minister in the midst of this community to try and help from within.
Bryan Carter
You know, part of what we believe the Gospel calls us to do is this redemptive work that all of us need. Of course, oftentimes, because of economics and because of just societal issues, African-American families can sometimes be at the very poor end of that. And so, that’s where we work. That’s where we do ministry, that we serve families, and we rebuild, and we restore, and we strengthen, and we provide headlining, and we provide hope. And so, that’s what we do. We’re very involved in the community, in ever different aspect that we possibly can be, whether that’s mass incarceration, or prison ministry, or mentoring, or in the educational process, or serving through a food pantry. We just believe that the Gospel calls us to bring about restoration.

And at the same time, we feel like reconciliation is an important part of that, which means that partnerships with other churches and trying to find ways that we can do this work together is crucial, because sometimes, although we may have, particularly in Dallas – although southern Dallas may have – southern Dallas has some challenges, north Dallas may have greater resources. That’s just the way our city is structured.

Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Bryan Carter
So, how can we work together to really bring about the transformation and the change and the hope and the help that’s needed in our community? So, that’s every day; that’s what we’re trying to do.
Jeff Warren
I think – and that’s why it’s critical for the white leaders, pastors in particular, to take that step, make that first step. And we’ve learned to go – when we’ve had meetings and such, go there. Don’t ask our brothers to come to where we are; go there.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm. So, where does this sit now? You’ve met with the pastors for a while. They’ve exchanged, I imagine. Are there any other pairings that have happened along the lines of what you guys have done?
Bryan Carter
Oh, yeah.
Jeff Warren
Yes.
Bryan Carter
It’s been amazing.
Jeff Warren
Yeah. Some of the unseen things – you know, Bryan and I have talked about this, you know, often in ministry, you’re, “Lord, please.” You know, Moses, “Show us Your glory.”
Darrell Bock
Yeah, yeah.
Jeff Warren
“Move, move.” We feel like we’ve been trying to chase Him during this time. And not that it hasn’t been challenging and difficult, but we really have been.

One of the great gifts has been, as we’ve come together, you might imagine – and this would be different for different churches of different sizes, but we’ve come together – our staff has come to know each other. My executive pastor has a best friend in his executive pastor now. Our communication guys, our worship teams have had to work together, and that, again, challenging. Because we’re different in the ways of how we worship and come together.

So, that’s been a great benefit. We’ve had our men who’ve come together. Our men have gone there a couple of times. Their men have come to us. We had a room full of 500 men – of our men and their men – talking about racial reconciliation as we spoke from the – a platform there, and then they spoke at tables.

We’ve had women who have had a book swap and have read books together and then shared together. We had a kid swap at one point. So, it’s gone – and more and more we’ve sought to bring more pastors into the pulpit swap, which we’re gonna do again next year.

Bryan Carter
So, the first year, the two of us swapped pulpits, and then this past Palm Sunday, we had 18 churches, 9 white and 9 black, that swapped, all of us on the same day.
Darrell Bock
Oh, wow.
Bryan Carter
And then our hope is to add more next year. But just our – so, our hope is to really just build those bridges and watch. And so, when we did that with the 18 churches, listening to those pastors talk about how the churches received it, what was the conversation like.

The goal is to model for our churches what the Scriptures teach us about racial reconciliation, to help our churches understand that the matter of racial reconciliation is not gonna be accomplished by the schools or the government.

If the Church doesn’t step into that space, it’ll never happen. We’ll continue to have the proliferation of negative events. So, the Church has to own that. So, that’s what we’re trying – we’re trying to raise up our churches to understand, “That’s your role on your work place, in your neighborhood, at the school. Understand that’s your role: you’re a reconciler.”

Darrell Bock
And the immediate impact of that, I think, is that there’s a – there is a testimony that comes out of that that you can’t – you know, it’s not a public relations move; it’s just – it’s just it’s so – it’s so counter to what is going on in a larger world that it just stands out by default.
Bryan Carter
Sure.
Jeff Warren
That’s right.
Bryan Carter
Sure, sure.
Darrell Bock
And so, I think that’s a – that’s an interesting way to deal with this. Well, let me try a couple of other questions here. And remember that we are – even though we’re in Dallas, there are – you know, people listen to us all around the country.
Bryan Carter
Sure.
Darrell Bock
So, what advice would you give – maybe there’s a pastor or a church leader somewhere listening and going, “This sounds interesting, but it sure sounds tricky.”
Bryan Carter
Sure, sure.
Darrell Bock
What advice would you give for getting started or what you do with someone who feels an inkling, “I might want to think about this”? And also, not only what advice would you give, but what pitfalls do you need to be aware of as you think about this? And, Bryan, I’ll let you start with that one.
Bryan Carter
Okay. So, I think, first of all, if I’m a pastor, and I’m thinking about, “Okay, how – what can I do for my city,” I think first of all you’ve got to look for – I think it helps to have another brother to go with you. So, find – whether it’s a black brother, a white brother, a Latino brother – just find another brother and just say, “Hey, how –” just begin the relationship there. And I think it starts there.

And then from there, then I think – then you talk about, “Okay, what can we do in our churches together? Can we do a service project together? Is there a common need in the city we could serve together around?” It’s about relationships, and it really is. So, I think just starting there.

And know that when you step into the relationship, that it may work; it may not. And that’s okay. You know, it may click; it may not. And I think you gotta be open to that, because it doesn’t always – when we were approaching the pulpit swaps, and we’re trying to connect churches, you – this church with – I mean it’s like matchmaking. I mean you’re trying to figure out, “Is this guy gonna work with this –”

Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Bryan Carter
And so, it’s okay if it doesn’t work. It’s okay if it’s challenging. And I think the leader has to be patient; he has to know it may not happen overnight, but a couple of lunches, a couple of connections, and then let’s figure out we can do it. Then I think the leader has to also think broadly.
Darrell Bock
Mm-hmm.
Bryan Carter
Okay? What does this mean? How can we, in a more tangible way, enlarge that reach? And so, that’s – those are kind of the approaches we’ve taken to kind of walk through this and just made it a part of who we are. I mean it’s been – it’s been a part – it’s jus we have to be very, very intentional. I think that’s another core tool. If you’re not –
Darrell Bock
It’s not something you do on the side; it’s something you’ve really got to be committed to.
Bryan Carter
It’s not. You gotta be committed to it, because you’re too busy; you got too much –
Darrell Bock
It takes time.
Bryan Carter
Yeah, you got a lot of things going on. So, you gotta say, “This is gonna be a priority. I’m gonna give some time and energy. Once a quarter lunch, one or two projects a year.” Otherwise, it just won’t happen.
Darrell Bock
Have you guys ever talked – I want to ask you the same question. Let me do that first before I raise the next question. So, what advice would you give, and what are the pitfalls that you see?
Jeff Warren
Real quick, Bryan’s done a good job there. What we realized was that it wasn’t as easy maybe. You know, like this first time out, we thought, “Man, we got 50 churches.” That was kind of what I was thinking. “We’re gonna go to 100 next year.” And what you discover – and I guess this should not have been a surprise, no wonder it’s not happening – well, it’s difficult. It’s difficult for all these reasons he said.

But one is – you know, you would hope – and guys have asked us, “Hey, how are we supposed to connect with another pastor?”

And we’d say, “Um, pick up the phone.” You know?

Darrell Bock
Yeah, right. [Laughs]
Jeff Warren
“Or go knock on his door and take him to lunch.” But truthfully – truthfully, that’s how it happens.
Darrell Bock
It’s a ten-digit dial or an e-mail.
Jeff Warren
Yeah. Because it did – it was – they looked to us to – like, “How are you gonna match us up?” And I think that’s – for anyone that’s listening right now, any pastor leader, take that step. Take that step. And it might be that the first brother you come to will say, “Wow, just – we didn’t connect as friends. I love him, but –”

Go to the next one. You know?

Bryan Carter
Right.
Jeff Warren
And I think just be diligent in that, until finally you’ll find someone, and then the trust grows. Then you can move forward.
Darrell Bock
Hmm. Have you guys discussed – and I’m kinda transitioning now to where you go from here, but have you guys ever discussed having a joint service, bringing your congregations together at the same time and having you share a pulpit and a message together?
Jeff Warren
Wow, right after our first time, a million ideas came out.
Bryan Carter
Right, right.
Jeff Warren
And people were saying, “What’s next?” And that was the cool thing.
Bryan Carter
Right.
Darrell Bock
That actually was my next question, yeah, what are the next steps?
Jeff Warren
Well, if guys will take this step, I’m telling you, it’s happening to every one of the – but the first time we did a pulpit swap, our people were walking out of the services saying, “What are we doing next? When are we gonna do this again?”

And some have said – I’ve heard this, and Bryan could speak to our staff and others, thinking, “How cool would it be to have an event where we come either together at one place, or into some – I don’t know, some larger arena or a place where we could come together.

Darrell Bock
Where then you can do it, yeah.
Bryan Carter
Right. So, that’s – so, every – the two times we’ve swapped, we’ve had to ask the question, “Okay, what do we do now? And we have like A through Z come to my – A through M, and you bring N – and how do we mix this up?
Darrell Bock
Yeah, “I’m just a G now.”
Bryan Carter
Right, right. So, we’re trying to figure how do we intermingle how do we –
Darrell Bock
Yeah.
Bryan Carter
So, we haven’t quite figured it out yet. We’ve got to find another venue, where we could bring our churches on that day. But we think that’d be neat. We just think it’d be great to see that _____. Our choirs have been – they’ve shared space together. So, watching them singing together has been neat.
Jeff Warren
Amazing.
Bryan Carter
It’s just – you just – every year you’re just trying to figure out, “Okay, what’s a fresh way to continue to connect the hearts of the people?”
Jeff Warren
More – and more and more of our people this time swapped.
Bryan Carter
Yeah.
Jeff Warren
They said, “I’m going down there this time.” Now, you know, Bryan – Bryan’s got his entourage comes with him.
Jeff Warren
And then I have some folks. But this time, we had a lot more of our people come because they’ve now developed relationships.
Bryan Carter
They have.
Darrell Bock
Right.
Jeff Warren
One of the things that happened out of this –
Bryan Carter
That’s true.
Jeff Warren
– we’ve got a men’s group that meets every week.
Bryan Carter
Right.
Jeff Warren
A discipleship group –
Bryan Carter
Right, right.
Jeff Warren
– of our guys that said, “Let’s do this.” And they’ve become best of friends. I mean it’s incredible.
Darrell Bock
We worked in west Dallas for a while out of the church that I’m in, and one of the things that they did was to produce an intramural sports league in which teams were playing against – now, you talk about bringing the best and worst out of people –
Bryan Carter
I’m sure.
Darrell Bock
– at the same time, but there were relationships that grew out of that because after – year after year, you’re playing the same teams with the same guys.

I knew a guy who could take me down, deep into the post, little guy that I am, and beat me to a drum. You know? But it was – but we got to know each other, and encourage one another and that kind of thing. And there are all kinds of possibilities for what can be –

Bryan Carter
Yeah, yeah.
Jeff Warren
One of the next steps we did this year, we added – we thought, “Hey, why don’t we serve together?” And so, the step out of the pulpit swap was everyone involved then come and get involved in what we call Transform Dallas. It’s just a few weeks after our pulpit swap.
Bryan Carter
Right.
Jeff Warren
And I’ve been told, and I believe it was, an historic day. It was a Saturday, where we had 130 projects, nearly 4,000 plus people from churches – not just from the pulpit swap, but ministries that we’re involved in throughout the year. Both of our churches are very active in the city, as Bryan mentioned, in many ministries. So, it kinda came together. And we sent people to places where they didn’t normally always go.

So, our people were down in south Dallas, other places around Fair Park, southern sector. A lot of his folks were around. And other churches jumped in on that.

Darrell Bock
That’s great.
Bryan Carter
‘Cause the hope is the swap happens – the day of service – the swap pushes and promotes the day of – this is our next step.
Darrell Bock
Right, right.
Bryan Carter
And then out of that, we have several other things we’ve thought about. One of ’em is a Bible study curriculum. It’s a four-week either a preaching series or small group series that we’re still working through, that churches could use so that potentially, when we do the swap, maybe next year, he launches it. We all launch the same series, and then we begin studying that together the life of our churches.
Darrell Bock
Oh, wow.
Bryan Carter
Because we just believe that if we can keep taking these next steps of – and then enlarging those involved, then we really can make some progress to help our hearts understand what God’s called us to do together. We’re also excited we’re gonna be in Charleston in June for the anniversary of that tragedy there.

But just – and they’re planning works around that about how there’s national movements that are happening around this matter of racial reconciling. So, it’s just important that every leader understands, “What does this look like for me, and how do I advance this work?”

Darrell Bock
Well, this is obviously a story to be continued that we’re kind of at this point in the journey, and I’m sure there’s more coming, and we’ll keep our eye on it and have you guys back to talk about the rest of the story. I thank you all for coming in and introducing this –
Bryan Carter
Thank you.
Jeff Warren
Yeah.
Bryan Carter
And great to be here.
Darrell Bock
– folks, and we appreciate the fact that you have come to be a part of The Table. We look forward to having you back with us again.
Jeff Warren
Thank you.
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Bryan Carter
Bryan Carter is the senior pastor of Concord Church, and is a graduate of the Dallas Theological Seminary Christian Education program. He has served his community in multiple capacities, including the Dallas Independent School District, Habitat for Humanity, and many other non-profits and ministries.
Darrell L. Bock
Dr. Bock is senior research professor of New Testament and executive director for cultural engagement at Dallas Theological Seminary. He has authored or edited more than 40 books, including Jesus according to Scripture: Restoring the Portrait from the Gospels, Jesus in Context: Background Readings for Gospel Study, Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods, Jesus the Messiah: Tracing the Promises, Expectations, and Coming of Israel’s King, Who Is Jesus?: Linking the Historical Jesus with the Christ of Faith, and Key Events in the Life of the Historical Jesus: A Collaborative Exploration of Context and Coherence.
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