“The devil always fills in the gaps that the Church leaves. And he fills it with lies. It’s our responsibility to fill these gaps with the gospel,” Eric Mason, editor of “Urban Apologetics,” said during the 2021 Recharge conference.
The conference, which took place at Dallas Baptist University on Sept. 25, focused on the topic of urban apologetics and featured five speakers, including Mason, who served as the keynote.
Carlos Francis, Texas Baptists African American Evangelism Specialist, hosted the conference. He explained that since the time of Jesus, people have been misidentifying who He is. Francis said the event served to help churches address this issue in the urban context.
“We want to strengthen our churches, and we also want to strengthen our communities,” he said.
During his keynote address, Eric Mason explained that urban apologetics is a branch of apologetics that focuses on the unique experiences and reality of African Americans and other minorities in an urban environment and how they are taught to view Christianity as nonindigenous to people of color. Using this context, urban apologetics then focuses on using “redeemable relevance” to engage people with the gospel.
Mason explained the concept of redeemable relevance, explaining that for the modern Black church, it is important to be engaged in the culture, without falling into the sins of the culture. He urged churches to be up-to-date and relevant on things like social media and music but to continue to shun sinful things like drugs.
“We should be relevant in redeemable relevance, meaning that we should be engaged in that which is not sin, but which makes you feel relevant and relatable so that it opens the door to share the gospel,” Mason said.
Mason also spoke on overcoming some of the major challenges of urban apologetics, which included negative feelings about Christianity based on past bad experiences, misconceptions and inaccurate information, and conscious choice to continue sinning.
During Dr. Sarita T. Lyons’ session, entitled “Black Women and the Appeal of the Black Conscious Community and Feminism,” she spoke more specifically about reaching Black women who are being led astray by different social movements. Dr. Lyons is the director of community life and women’s ministry at Epiphany Fellowship and a psychotherapist, as well as a co-author of “Urban Apologetics.” She talked about the “lifeless lifeboats” offering counterfeit freedom and teaching distortions of God’s word.
Lyons encouraged church leaders to reach out to women who are hurting and have strayed from the church, reminding those in attendance that everyone has a story that God wants to redeem. She gave advice for crafting biblical apologetics that counter social movements, urging attendees to acknowledge imperfections of the Church, teach about the presence of women in Scripture and treat the person with respect, remembering that God created Black women in dignity and equality.
“It is a noble thing to fight for the disillusioned and disoriented daughter,” Lyons said.
Other speakers included co-authors of “Urban Apologetics,” including Jerome Gay Jr., founder and teaching pastor of Vision Church in North Carolina; Zion McGregor, founder and president of Urban Christian Writers Guild; and Blake Wilson, lead pastor of Crossover Bible Fellowship in Houston.
Over lunch, the speakers hosted a Q&A time for conference attendees to ask questions. Topics included how to help white churches diversify and confront hard truths; how to reach a social media audience; how to separate Western ideals from the gospel; and dealing with the pressures of ministry.
Mason addressed the question, “as a pastor, where do I start?” He encouraged pastors to get out into the mission field and see the brokenness firsthand. He said that in order to get the church involved in urban apologetics and outreach, the pastor needed to lead the way.
“One of the most important things is having a heart for it,” Mason said. “The pastor is the lead evangelist of the church– if you have a burden for it, others will too.”
To learn more about Recharge and make sure you’re at the next event, go to txb.org/recharge.
Texas Baptists is a movement of God’s people to share Christ and show love by strengthening churches and ministers, engaging culture and connecting the nations to Jesus.
The ministry of the convention is made possible by giving through the Texas Baptists Cooperative Program, Mary Hill Davis Offering® for Texas Missions, Texas Baptists Worldwide and Texas Baptist Missions Foundation. Thank you for your faithful and generous support.
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