Ep. 50: 10 Minutes on Diversity and Direction

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Episode Transcript:

Mingo Palacios:

Hello and welcome to the PD Podcast where we dialogue with some of today’s most insightful ministry leaders on topics relevant to the next generation. I’m Mingo Palacios, your host and Pastor of Evangelism in Culture at Saddleback Church. Every episode you’ll meet a future focus leader who’s changing the face of ministry from millennials by simply observing the past. It’s our hope that these conversations challenge you to dream bigger, lead better, and intentionally make time to honor those who let us stand on their shoulders. Thanks for joining us.

Mingo Palacios:

Welcome everybody to the Purpose Driven podcast. My name is Mingo Palacios, your host, and we are at Thrive. This is a Thrive conversation. We’ve been here three days, listening to some incredible leadership capital on the platform. You’d be surprised when you go to a conference, how much leadership capital is floating around the patio. It’s not just hung up on the stage. There’s a lot to be learned from the people that are just wandering around the lawn. So today we’re lucky to have the pastoral staff of what a Bayside’s campuses, but it’s a unique expression. You were a church and then Bayside said, wow, let’s be partners. Right. So we’ve got Bob and we got Efrem in the house. Welcome to the podcast gentlemen.

Efrem Smith:

Yeah man, great to be here.

Mingo Palacios:

And we are blessed to have you guys here. Tell me a little bit of what it is that excites you about what’s happening at a place like Thrive being a part of the team that’s drawing leaders together.

Bob Balian:

I think for me, just seeing, as you said, all of the capital in terms of leadership collected on campus, getting to glean from that, getting to learn from that, getting to share and connect with that, is great and then I’ll let Efrem speak for himself, but we’re really into multicultural church diversity and trying to play a role in having that trickled down to everyone is really cool to.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah. Efrem?

Efrem Smith:

I’m just enjoying that when I’m in an environment like this, it increases my hope for the church.

Mingo Palacios:

Here we go.

Efrem Smith:

I have not given up on the church. Sometimes I get discouraged about the state of the church, but when I’m here at Thrive, I get refueled and my hope meter just explodes for what the church can be in the United States and beyond.

Mingo Palacios:

I appreciate your honesty because I don’t think that anybody’s exempt from being discouraged and actually we were talking inside here with the conference director and I said, how do you deal with discouragement when you’ve got a vision for something, but there are roadblocks along the way, what do you do? She just laid it out so honest. I just appreciated her and I appreciated your answer. You guys have seasons of ministry and have a listening audience of people who are hungry to get to the table with seasoned leaders. When you guys are looking and searching for the bench that you’re developing as seasoned leaders, what stands out to you in a young emerging leader?

Efrem Smith:

Well, I think what’s awesome about emerging leaders today is, you know, when we were younger in ministry, multi-ethnic, urban ministry was kind of like a sidebar, unless you grew up in an urban and very racially diverse environment, you were getting people that you were going to have to take this long road approach to orientating them because of social media and because of the urbanization of America and the world, a lot of emerging leaders who are already interested in diversity already interested in social causes and the good news of Jesus coming to bear on those social causes. So you don’t have to put passion for multi ethnicity in the emerging generation. You just have to leverage the capacity that’s been growing in.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s really good.

Bob Balian:

I think too they understand that in a multi-ethnic construct that you’re looking for balance and they’re not offended by that. Whereas, you said that emerging leaders understand and grew up with diversity. It’s still a challenge for many people. And so for many people, when you’re hiring or when you’re bringing on volunteer leaders, they don’t have as much understanding in terms of man, I’m looking for something specific here, ethnically, culturally, chronologically. But emerging leaders understand that.

Mingo Palacios:

What’s funny is that some people get real bent when they discover that you’re building a team or you’re filling a roster and you’re looking for a particular type of person to make a well balanced team. There’s wisdom in staffing for diversity. And some people are like, “wait a minute, wait a minute. You’re looking for a Mexican pastor. Like, doesn’t that is that? It’s a little unfair for the rest of us. Don’t you think?” It’s important for people to understand that we’re not going to become less diverse as a society? We are more blended than ever before. We are more integrated by way of humanity, right? The church is always 20, 30 years behind unfortunately. So it plays catch up to what’s happening in the cities that we belong to. But coming from San Diego, I would say a very diverse culture. It will be to the churches disadvantage if it doesn’t look through a multicultural lens at how it staffs. Now you want to hear like a bomb that I remember hearing somebody said, if you’re trying to build a multi-cultural church but your staff is not multicultural, they were like, you’re leading in the same breadth and stroke that slavery was leading where you’ve got a uni-cultural staff trying to net a multi-cultural congregation. Derwin Gray said that, and I was like, Derwin, you’re going to light a microphone on fire with that. He said, you’re not too far off.

Efrem Smith:

He is a gospel bomb dropper. You know what I would say is-

Bob Balian:

I want to be known as that.

Efrem Smith:

Yeah me too. We’re not trying to meet quotas were not into some affirmative action experiment. What we’re trying to do is be true to the mission field God has placed us in. It’s funny, when Jesus recruited the disciples isn’t it interesting he didn’t go grab like he could’ve called like 15 Pharisees and Sadducees. What he did is he picked people that would resemble the communities he was trying to reach.

Mingo Palacios:

He was trying to chase. Yup.

Efrem Smith:

And he told stories and used metaphors. And so for us, how are we going to reach, the non-Christians of Sacramento, which is one of the most diverse cities in America. If our staff, our infrastructure in some way doesn’t resemble, doesn’t impact that group because yeah, you do look more like colonizers, than missionaries-

Mingo Palacios:

Totally.

Efrem Smith:

When you staff that way.

Bob Balian:

A lot of people don’t realize the Sacramento is that diverse. It was voted the number one city in terms of diversity six years ago in Time Magazine. And so if you’re trying to become a church that looks like the community and your leaders are, uni-race, you’re saying to the community, we don’t trust you with this. And I think that’s a dead end.

Mingo Palacios:

But you shouldn’t be shocked when the city says we don’t trust you with our family or we don’t trust you with us. I think liability is a two-way street that way. It’s a two way street. OK Boys, I know we don’t have a lot of time. One word for seasoned leaders trying to crack the next generation enigma, the lack of next generation kids in their seats. What is working for you that you would put on the table for them to hear?

Efrem Smith:

I’m not afraid to let the kid in me keep living. I mean, I love going to superhero movies. I love watching comics, you know? So for me, I have to allow, the kid in me on some level to continue to thrive and have transparency so that the next generation can see that. But the other thing that I love about, as I’ve stepped in to the Bayside culture and specifically the mid town culture is Bob always wants the emerging generation around him. So we have younger people that are around us helping us think about what’s going to be on the screen in our worship experience. What kind of t-shirts were going to wear, what the branding is going to look like for Easter coming up. We’re not in many meetings where there aren’t emerging leaders, 20 year olds sitting in there, influencing.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s a huge, significant point.

Bob Balian:

I think, just adding onto that, Mingo, it’s allowing people like yourself a place at the leadership table, like really sacrificing a chunk of leadership and saying Mingo or Courtney or whoever like this is on you.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s a huge one. We say inside of our circle that there’s a difference from being invited to the table and then having a place to share the meal because a lot of times you can be brought to the table and it’s just watch us eat, watch us enjoy what’s at the table.

Efrem Smith:

You can come to the table, but you can’t sit in my chair.

Mingo Palacios:

Right. And I think that some of the best churches that are engaging young leaders are saying, we’ve prepared a plate for you. We’ve been anticipating you right now. And it’s not over emphasizing their existence or them being in the room, but it’s just saying like if we want, like you said about multiculturalism, it goes beyond just a race. It’s the generations. It’s the footprint. If you want your church to reflect several generations, your leadership has to reflect several generations. It would be asinine not to expect that if you didn’t have one, you wouldn’t see it in the other. Boys, I really appreciate your short insight. If people want to follow along with your particular campus in your particular stories as leaders, how can they do that?

Bob Balian:

www.baysideonline.com. Click on midtown campus and you’re good to go.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah that’s good. Efrem?

Efrem Smith:

Yeah, I mean that and then you know what follow Bob Balian on Instagram.

Mingo Palacios:

Yeah here we go.

Efrem Smith:

Man, you know, one week he’s in Australia, the next season, Paris, the next season, with me in Sacramento.

Mingo Palacios:

Like Kanye. All over dude.

Efrem Smith:

You can follow me Efrem Smith on Twitter, on Instagram, on Facebook.

Mingo Palacios:

That’s great guys. I’m yet to come to your campus and I’m due a visit, so when I’m in your hood and I’m expecting some great things,

Bob Balian:

It’s all good when you’re in the hood.

Mingo Palacios:

I’ll cook for you. You show me what’s greatest in your neighborhood. Sounds good?

Efrem Smith:

All right. We got you.

Mingo Palacios:

All right guys. Thanks for listening.

Mingo Palacios:

We’d like to thank Purpose Driven Church for making this podcast possible. If you’ve been feeling burnt out or plateaued in your ministry, we invite you to join us for Purpose Driven Church conference happening this June right here in Southern California. You can learn more and register by visiting PD.church. We hope today’s insights left you feeling inspired and propelled towards your greatest potential. Thanks again for joining us for another episode of the PD Podcast. Until next time.

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