One New Birmingham (ONB) with Dr. Tony Evans! One New Birmingham began in 2019 with CSM and a small group of church partners who wanted to see racial reconciliation and kingdom culture come to Birmingham through the church universal. If you’ve not heard about ONB yet, we encourage you to catch up here.
The leaders, pastors, and shepherds participating in this initiative did not want to focus on events to create change. They wanted to focus on making their own hearts right before God in this area of spiritual formation first. Small groups of mixed diversity formed and began meeting together regularly. CSM and church partners participating in this initiative met in person and on Zoom and gathered via small groups and occasionally together through Zoom. This group of pastors began using Dr. Tony Evans’s material early in their meetings. One of the founding members of ONB had a relationship with Dr. Evans and invited him to participate. He gave leadership and wisdom to participating pastors as they met together.
Then, Dr. Evans came to Birmingham for the One New Birmingham Initiative on September 12-13. On Monday evening, a dinner was held at the City Club Birmingham. Participating pastors invited their staff members and circle of influence to come to listen to the current progress of ONB. Pastors spoke about how they have been impacted over the last three years in meeting together to work toward transformation.
Dr. Evans gave a big-picture challenge from 2 Chronicles 15. He gave an illustration of a sink in the janitor’s closet clogged with paper while the water was on. He equated the work of justice to that visual. Instead of someone turning the water off or fixing the clog, people grabbed mops and began mopping the water. Everyone worked on the mopping, but they kept sloshing the water around because they never got to the root of the problem. To solve the problem, you need to look around and see the problem before you begin the work.
Ultimately, anyone can get involved in a cause. Anyone can be a social justice warrior. As Christians, we are not called to serve like anyone but like Christ. We are to be Kingdom-minded. Only God can fix chaos, and He can locate the cause and heal our distress. He will begin in our hearts. As Dr. Evans spoke to pastors, he challenged them to either “Teach the Word or Change Your Sign.” He encouraged them to move their congregations to Oneness, not sameness, as they continued to work together. He urged them to continue to create more proximity to one another. One God. One Answer.
On Tuesday morning, pastors, church leaders, and organizational leaders met at Bethel Baptist Church. Again, pastors and community members gave remarks, and Dr. Evans was the keynote. This event included worship and was an intimate time of workshopping on how to do the big-picture work that Dr. Evans outlined the previous evening. After he spoke, pastors were given time to ask questions and hear wisdom from Dr. Evans specific to their needs as they pursue Oneness.
While in town, Dr. Evans also spoke at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church on September 15 for the memorial observation of the bombing of the church.