Have you ever met someone that you just connected with immediately?
That’s the way it was with me and Corey. I walked into United Theological Seminary and immediately sought the sanctuary of the corner, I don’t know if you know this or not, but the people who aren’t sure about what’s going to happen like to hide in the corner.
Corey was already there. I sat next to him, and that became our tradition. In the classes, we had together we sat in the corner and we sat together. We talked about the content of the class, we talked about how we still had homework to do, and we talked about life. We are both pastors, fathers, and husbands. Corey and I connected.
Then, one day, he invited me to a revival he was having at his church. I looked at my calendar, and there was nothing going on, and then my mouth committed me before I had time to really think about it.
True confession; I was scared out of my mind. Scared for multiple reasons. First, I had never been to a full Gospel Church revival. I didn’t know what to expect, I didn’t know what was going to happen. Second, I had never been to a “black church.”
I don’t mean any offense by that term, but in the world we live in there are very few churches that live in the tension of being racially diverse. Typically, there are “white churches” and “black churches.” The cultures are different, the preaching is different, and the music is different.
I had never been to a “black church,” and I had certainly never been during a revival.
I showed up with my wife and my sister-in-law and was immediately embraced. Physically, emotionally, it was hugs for days. The community knew we were visitors (we were the only white people in the place), and they loved us. One of the ladies asked how we arrived there, and I told them I knew Corey. She scolded (in love) me for not calling him Pastor Corey. The rest of the day she would call me Pastor Tony, respect was important in this church.
So, we worshiped with this community, and it was different. The music was different, the preaching was different, the environment was different. It was different, and in many ways, it was the same.
The same passion for Jesus. Same Biblical teaching. Same heart for worship.
After the event, Corey and I talked about my experience. We talked about the differences in our churches. We talked about how everyone needs this kind of experience.
That’s when the Holy Spirit challenged us: Pulpit Swap.
If you aren’t familiar with the term, a pulpit swap is when churches change pastors for a Sunday. It’s designed to expose the church to something a little different. It’s designed to stretch pastors and churches in ways to help them see God differently.
A year later from that original experience we find ourselves here. October 22nd and October 29th, we are swapping pulpits.
Except, when Corey and I thought about this we really thought we needed to do more. So, rather than just swapping pulpits we are really swapping churches. He is bringing his whole church down on the 22nd, and I am taking my whole church up on the 29th.
Both of us want to challenge our congregations, and our community to experience something different. Something that maybe they wouldn't do on their own, and something that is a better representation of what it means to follow Jesus.
Following Jesus is about taking our faith to places it has never been before.
So, allow me to extend an invitation to you. Christian or not. Black, white, or other. Hang out with us on the 22nd and the 29th. Maybe we can all learn something about someone who is different than us.