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A Story about Diversity in the Church

Our desire here at the Summit is to reach the entire RDU area. The demographic of our church needs, therefore, to more closely reveal the demographic of our area. It’s not about our preferences; it is about reaching our community.

“I’m writing to you as an African American female. I was in search of a church home in Durham and visited many different churches in the area. I went to where all the black people go in Durham, I went to Duke Chapel, and at the suggestion of my friend and a student of mine, I came to the Summit. Now, my first reaction was quite hesitant simply because the praise and worship at my home church in Portsmouth, VA and at the Summit are about as different as Beyonce and Mother Theresa.

I was mainly just super excited to hear what was going to happen next in the Bible. I found myself leaving church every Sunday and meeting up with a friend or calling my mom and sharing what I’d learned and how the word was directly applicable to my life and my circumstances. My friends were shocked but excited and my mom just kept saying “Praise the Lord,” coupled with, “You like going to church with all those white people?” Bless her heart.

The praise and worship at the Summit has grown on me quite a bit and now I have favorite songs and my Pandora stations are sprinkled with Chris Tomlin. I’ve learned that it isn’t about the color of the pastor, but am I getting the Word, am I hearing the gospel, am I learning and growing in my relationshipwith Christ? And the answer to all of those questions since I’ve been attending the Summit is, “YES.”

The Lord has allowed you all through His Word to create a change in me. I have become a much calmer person since I really started digesting the Word of God. I’ve become prayerful. I’ve become a little bit of a God nerd in the sense that I’m reading all these books to learn more about Him. I never thought I’d read anything by C.S. Lewis beyond The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. And that was in 5th grade. I want to know more about Him and I want to thank Him and praise Him for all that He has done for me and those around me. I am learning to trust in Him, and I have huge trust issues.

I want to thank the Summit Church. Keep making it so that people like me, who had honestly strayed far from the Lord, feel like it is okay to come back. When I first started coming to the church there were 2 guest pastors who visited, and at that time I was still trying to figure out this large church and whether or not I was welcome at the church as an African American. Both of the guest pastors were African American and I was like, “Ok, J.D., I see you – you are down with the brothers.” Also now you have Omar, and me and my friends were super excited about that and really want to be a part of helping him and his beautiful wife in the development of a new branch of Brier Creek. Their presence will serve as an invitation to other people of color. That’s just how it works. We like to have a successful model before we roll in to the situation.”

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J.D. Greear, Ph.D., is the President of the Southern Baptist Convention and pastors the Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. Tagged by Outreach magazine as one of the fastest growing churches in America, the Summit has grown in the past 8 years from 400 to over 5,000 each weekend. The Summit Church is deeply involved in global church planting, having undertaken the mission to plant 1000 churches in the next 40 years. J.D. has authored Breaking the Islam Code and the upcoming Gospel: Recovering the Power that Made Christianity Revolutionary.