Efrem Smith serves as teaching pastor at Bayside Church in Sacremento, California. For four years, Efrem lead World Impact, a missions organization committed to church-planting in inner cities. His experience in ministry is seasoned and diverse, having held different pastoral roles in the local church. Efrem is also the author of several books, including Killing Us Softly: Reborn in the Upside Down Image of God.
Do you think we have a harder struggle with dying to self today than we did in the past?
How do we live as citizens of the Kingdom here and now?
As a pastor at an urban, multi-ethnic church, what have you learned about racial reconciliation?
“As a teaching pastor at an urban, multi-racial, multi-ethnic church…I have significant concern about how Christians participate in the Great Commission within a mission field that is urban, very diverse, but also deeply divided.”
“Ultimately the church should be an outpost—an embassy—of the Kingdom of God.”
“We have to challenge, lovingly, folks in the church to remember that our citizenship in the Kingdom of God actually supersedes even our citizenship in the United States of America.”
“Even in a nation like the United States where we can worship freely…we can still become enslaved, held captive, to institutions and ideologies and even good economic frameworks like free enterprise and capitalism.”
“To understand the cross-cultural Christ is to understand Christ as a liberator. One who offers liberation to all people, whether they’re enslaved to government systems, economic systems, social structures like race and ethnicity, whether we’re held captive to brokenness, arrogance, neglect, pride.”
“Christ is this counter-cultural liberator who steps into an upside-down world to set us upright.”
“As a pastor, I can’t lead people to places I haven’t gone or I don’t revisit on a regular basis.”
“We have to be careful that the pulpit, that the platform that we’ve been given to preach and teach, doesn’t just become a platform of negative commentary on how sinful the world is, how bad things are, how upside down things are. We have to use…these opportunities to point to God’s goodness, God’s work, God’s justice.”
“If I just hung around other black urban pastors, it would stretch me, I would grow from that, but it’s still not going to give me the broader Kingdom breath and blessing of saying ‘I fellowship with Hispanic, and white, and Asia, and multi-ethnic, and suburban, and small town pastors.’ I think it improves my preaching, my leading, my serving, my understanding of God’s word.”
“If the kids in the public schools are not at grade-level in reading and math by the third or fifth grade, there is a high probability that they will be incarcerated.”
“God’s cosmic, huge agenda is too big for me to tackle alone. I need to be a part of a larger family, a larger body.”
“The heritage of the church and the future of the church is about being connected to a bigger family and bigger agenda than any one church can tackle on its own.”
“I think one of the ways that the church will be a more transformative force in our nation and in the world is being open to the ways in which God wants to lead our churches to look more like heaven. To be a sneak preview of a multitude of every nation, tribe, and language.”