Tony Evans on racial unrest: ‘This is a divine moment for ecclesiological reset’

On Thursday, June 18, The FAMiLY Leader welcomed leaders of sister state organizations from around the country to a Zoom meeting on racial reconciliation with Dr. Tony Evans of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, Texas.

Organizational and Church Ambassador Network leaders from several states partnering in TFL’s The Daniel Initiative joined the meeting, representing Arizona, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Wisconsin.

“We are grateful for the opportunity to work with likeminded organizations in states across the country and honored to welcome Dr. Evans to the discussion,” says Bob Vander Plaats, president and CEO of The FAMiLY Leader. “Especially at a time of such division and brokenness, our hope is that Pastor Evans’ perspective can open up new understandings and paths for healing in the Church and in America.”

Watch Evans’ presentation during the meeting below:

During the meeting, Evans described both the COVID crisis and the racial unrest sweeping America as “disturbances” God is using to capture the Church’s attention.

“God is disturbing through a virus and through our strife the natural order of things in order to advance His Kingdom,” Evans said. “The bigger the disturbance, the bigger the message. And the reason why He disturbs the natural order of things is to shake up things on earth to reveal things from heaven.”

And what is God revealing?

“This is a divine moment for an ecclesiological reset,” Evans said.

Beginning with some historical context, Evans argued the racial divide in America today is being driven by the failure of the Church to teach at the outset of the nation God’s declaration that kidnapping and selling a man into slavery is a capital crime (Exodus 21:16).

“The Church failed in the initiation of our nation to address this issue biblically,” Evans said. “That set in motion things that would unveil a Civil War, peonage [the practice of incarcerating people to use them as slave labor, permitted under the 13th Amendment], Jim Crow – all of this endorsed actively or passively by the Church. Theological systems were set up … formal and informal embedding of systems that would keep people of color behind the 8-ball.

“All of this is to say there was a great failure of the Church,” Evans said. “The reason you have a black church and white church today is because the Church was not being the Church.”

But just as the Church bears responsibility for the sin, Evans said, it also holds the keys to healing.

“There are two answers to every question: God’s answer and everybody else’s. And everybody else is wrong when they disagree with Him,” Evans said. “If God is your problem, politics is not your solution. If God is your problem, social action is not your solution.

What is the solution?

For Evans, it’s the Church listening to God’s “divine moment,” correcting its practical theology, and leading the healing by example.

“Since the Church was the theological engine to injustice,” Evans says, “it needs to be the theological solution for it.”

“In the Bible, justice and righteousness … are joined at the hip,” Evans continued, citing Psalms 89:14 and Genesis 18:19. “But while the Anglo church has been emphasizing righteousness, the African-American church has been emphasizing justice. You are splitting a baby that God doesn’t split. … He wants both. Because we have not treated both with same tenacity, the same fire, and with the same insistence in the Church and in society, the society does not have the pattern to follow that should have been established by the Church.”

Evans’ ministry, The Urban Alternative, he relayed, is working to establish just such a pattern, through a three-point plan it’s implemented in several communities, including racial tension hotspot Ferguson, Missouri.

The first point of the plan, Evan said, is to gather the churches of a local community together for a “solemn assembly.”

“There must be a coming together, for the purpose of establishing unity … which invites God’s glory,” Evans said.

From that gathering, The Urban Alternative encourages pastors to stay in contact monthly, for prayer and for discussion, and for corporate impact.

The second point is for the churches of a community to “speak with one voice, so that there is no uncertain sound about the key issues that your communities face – not just a unity of fellowship, but a unity of communication.

“There ought not be any uncertain sound on the issue of racism, on the issue of injustice, on the issue of righteousness,” Evans explained. “We complain about [these issues] in our own circles, but what we don’t do is speak collectively about them. And that ‘one voice’ is critical.”

The third point, Evans said, is to “serve together to impact the environment in our communities. We let the Church be visibly seen as salt and light. Let men see your good works, not hear your good words alone.”

The Urban Alternative has focused on encouraging churches to adopt their public schools – to provide mentoring to students, many of whom come from broken homes.

“But that’s not the only thing you can do,” Evans said. “We’re also going to adopt a police precinct … to influence how community and police relationships go. You get to set the stage. We’re going to provide counseling for their officers. Invite them into what the Church is doing, so the people can see them. … We’re going to bring them into the Church, inviting the community, and we become repairers of the breach.”

And there’s one more secret to unlocking the Church’s power of healing, Evans outlined during the Q&A session: Bring black churches and white churches to work alongside one another.

“Because here’s the key to reconciliation: It happens through service, not seminars. When you serve someone worse off than you, you get to know the one you serve with,” Evans said. “When you join forces to help the hurting, and you do that in a tangible way, the hearing and the openness will go up. … Out of the connectivity and shared experiences, when those emanate from common faith, we can let [reconciliation] grow organically rather than trying to force it, because we are ministering together.”

“If the Church would do this or something like this, it would go a long way to bring healing,” Evans said.

“Dr. Evans has given me all kinds of ideas,” said Greg Baker, vice president of church engagement for The FAMiLY Leader. “The church networks these state leaders represent are all about the transformative power of building relationships between pastors, community leaders, and elected officials – and the common goal they share of bringing blessing and healing to hurting people. What better place to start the healing than with the Church being tangible salt and light?”

“This does just scream ‘The Daniel Initiative,'” agreed Vander Plaats. “A model of building relationships between local pastors and local officials, impacting their local communities, spreading state by state – it’s how you change a nation!”

The leaders on the call with Evans participate in The FAMiLY Leader’s The Daniel Initiative, which mentors independent state organizations in a strategy of inspiring the Church to engage with government for the advance of God’s Kingdom. Part of that strategy includes developing Church Ambassador Networks, which bring ministers of God’s Church (pastors) into non-partisan, discipleship relationships with ministers of God’s government (elected officials). Together, The Daniel Initiative organizations represent networks of thousands of churches across a dozen states in the U.S., with the goal of seeing culture-transforming Church Ambassador Networks in all 50 U.S. states and beyond.




End-of-session update: 2 pro-life measures pass

In the morning hours of Sunday, June 14, the Iowa Legislature, after 16 continuous hours of session, passed a pair of pro-life measures:

  • The “Alfie Evans” bill, which protects children from being removed from life support over their parents’ objection,
  • And an added amendment to the bill, which requires a 24-hour consideration period before a woman can have an abortion.

By Sunday afternoon, however, the Legislature adjourned for 2020 without passing the Protect Life Amendment.

The FAMiLY Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats, Chuck Hurley, and Danny Carroll discuss these emotionally charged and important developments in the video below:

As Chuck explained, TFL and Iowa’s Coalition of Pro-Life Leaders “left it all on the field” to see the Protect Life Amendment passed.

Without such an amendment in place, the Iowa Supreme Court’s 2018 ruling that declared abortion a “fundamental right” leaves the door open for abortion extremists to pursue not only late-term abortions up the to the day of a baby’s birth, but also taxpayer funded abortions.

There can be little doubt that pro-life Iowans are sorely disappointed the Protect Life Amendment was not passed.

It should be noted, however, that the Alfie Evans bill is a victorious culmination of years of pro-life work. What’s more, the 24-hour provision could set up a legal challenge to the 2018 “fundamental right” ruling before a very different Iowa Supreme Court, which has seen Gov. Kim Reynolds appoint four new justices since that 2018 ruling.

The news today is thus mixed: disappointment, yes, but also two steps forward. At The FAMiLY Leader, we are praising God that Iowa’s pro-life community has remained united in the defense of life, that more and more pro-life legislation continues to be passed, and that after decades of struggling to turn the tide, we are marching forward. We are winning. And we will continue to work until all innocent life is treasured and protected by law, from conception to natural death.

THANK YOU for praying, for reaching out to your elected officials, for supporting The FAMiLY Leader, and for partnering with us in this life-saving work!




Iowa begins to open: What does it mean?

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has announced many of the restrictions we have lived under during the COVID-19 crisis will be lifted June 1. What does it mean for churches, for the Family Leadership Summit, for you? TFL’s Bob Vander Plaats and Greg Baker discuss:

Join us July 17 at The Family Leadership Summit. Get your tickets today!




VIDEO: Burdened Iowa leaders need your prayers

The FAMiLY Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats and Greg Baker discuss meetings with Church, state, and national leaders, who have governed under a heavy, human burden for weeks. These servants of God need our prayers, and Bob and Greg share how YOU can pray for those who care for us:

Join us July 17 at The Family Leadership Summit. Get your tickets today!

Join tens of thousands around the world in praying for revival through the FREE If 7:14 phone app!




Governor’s press conference highlights church response

The FAMiLY Leader’s Vice President of Church Engagement Greg Baker joined Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds by invitation for her daily live press conference on Friday, May 1. Baker shared an update on how churches across Iowa are working to responsibly reopen their doors and how many churches have been stepping in to care for needy Iowans during the coronavirus crisis.

Baker also gave some background on how the state of Iowa has come to partner with churches fur just such a time as this:

“For six years [The FAMiLY Leader Church Ambassador Network] has been working with churches to develop relationships with our elected officials, bringing together shepherds of the Church (pastors) with shepherds of government (elected authorities) with the purpose of building relationships as a person, as a shepherd, and as a partner in meeting community needs,” Baker said. “And this COVID-19 crisis has shown the need for that partnership.”

Baker cited examples of churches around the state that responded to specific needs identified by the governor. Following collaborative discussions with government officials, Iowa churches stepped up to staff food banks, conduct blood drives, deliver food to the elderly, produce personal protective equipment for medical personnel, and more.

“Jesus came to serve, and we want to serve as well,” Baker said.

Gov. Reynolds also expressed appreciation for churches that are taking virus-safety concerns seriously, even as they’re hoping to reopen their doors.

“In times like these, it’s our faith that gives so many of us the strength that we need, and I’ve been very impressed with how religious communities have remained connected even while they’re apart,” Reynolds said. “I want to thank all religious leaders for their thoughtful, responsible approach.”

Watch Baker’s comments at the governor’s press conference below:

Read TFL’s guidelines and recommendations for reopening churches in Iowa here.




VIDEO: Iowa opens, but what about churches?

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds has defended religious liberty and issued a new proclamation about opening churches. But with liberty comes responsibility. TFL’s Bob Vander Plaats and Greg Baker discuss how churches can embrace their liberty with diligence and a servant’s heart:

Read TFL’s guidelines and recommendations for reopening churches in Iowa here.




The COVID crisis is a revival moment

What is God doing now? Could He be calling His people to repentance? What if THIS is a revival moment?

TFL President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats invites you to join tens of thousands around the world in a unique prayer movement that is answering 2 Chronicles 7:14’s “If my people” call with a heart for revival.

Download the FREE If 7:14 phone app today!




COVID Update: The Church as long-term solution to short-term crisis

The FAMiLY Leader President and CEO Bob Vander Plaats and TFL Vice President of Church Engagement Greg Baker discuss how the Church is stepping in to this time of crisis and building partnerships with government to meet needs, break bondage, and go beyond emergency response to truly setting people free.

Click here to take the assessment at TestIowa.com now!




The Church in COVID: Out of the dark, light comes through!

The FAMiLY Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats and Greg Baker share a good-news conversation about how the coronavirus crisis has caused people to refocus on family and God, has inspired the Church, and has actually advanced the gospel!

You’re going to be encouraged by this video:




What’s God doing during the virus crisis?

Even amid the coronavirus crisis, The FAMiLY Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats and Greg Baker have encouraging news. Not only is God calling us back to prayer, but He’s also inspiring the Church to be His hands and feet to those in need:

Download the FREE If 7:14 phone app today!




Call to prayer: Revival amid COVID

The virus crisis is an incredible opportunity for the Church of Jesus Christ.

In this brief discussion, Bob Vander Plaats, author of “If 7:14” and president and CEO of The FAMiLY Leader, sits down with The FAMiLY Leader’s Vice President of Church Engagement Greg Baker and If 7:14’s Kathy Van Soelen to share how we can unite in prayer for just such a time as this!

Download the FREE If 7:14 phone app today!




COVID-19 video update: Churches respond

The FAMiLY Leader’s Bob Vander Plaats and Greg Baker offer an encouraging update on a call with Vice President Pence, a call with U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, and encouraging news about the Church’s response and reach to our neighbors during the coronavirus crisis.

Greg and Bob share news about drive-through food banks hosted by Iowa churches, an emergency food hotline staffed by TFL team members, and sister Church Ambassador Networks in other states – including Pennsylvania, Florida, Indiana, and Minnesota – that are following TFL’s lead in working with state governments to meet community needs:

Click here to go to The FAMiLY Leader’s COVID-19 response page.

Click here to listen to Sen. Ernst’s phone call with Iowa pastors.