Above: “There are two answers to every question: God’s answer and everybody else,” noted pastor Tony Evans told attendees at the National African American Fellowship’s June 12 worship service at Yorba Linda, Calif., Friendship. Photo by Sonya Singh

ANAHEIM, Calif. (BP) – Noted pastor and author Tony Evans likened the church of today to referees on a football field who have chosen sides.

“It becomes unfortunate when those who are to be the independent on the field decide to join the jersey of the competing teams, because the moment they do that, they have lost their uniqueness, their distinctiveness,” Evans preached before the National African American Fellowship (NAAF) of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) during its June 12 worship service at Yorba Linda, Calif., Friendship.

“And what you find out is the competing teams use them rather than follow their lead.”

Evans told NAAF that God’s church needs to carry out its created purpose in proclaiming and upholding God’s Word, even amid America’s political and racial turmoil.

“The point is today that the church of Jesus Christ has lost its uniqueness. Rather than saving and representing the team in heaven, they have been mimicking the teams of the culture,” Evans said. “They have decided to be more Democrat than Christian, or more Republican than Christian.

“We are actually a church that’s participating in cancel culture,” Evans said, “because we lead churches and cancel out the Word of God by the doctrine of secularism and deciding only when it’s convenient to be Christian, not taking a stand with Jesus Christ, because we’ve got these legislative bodies.

“That’s why you can have slavery go on and racism go on, and culturalism go on… and this and that, and this and that, because it is not the final word. There are two answers to every question: God’s answer and everybody else.”

Evans based his sermon on Matt. 16: 13-19, backing it in part with 1 Peter 2:5. He exhorted the church in its calling found in the meaning of the word “Ecclesia,” a church that is a legislative body adjudicating God’s Word.

“And He said whatever you bind on earth, shall have been bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth, shall have been loosed in heaven,” Evans said. “In other words, if you kick, I’ll back you up. A lot of us are waiting on God, and God is waiting on us. He says if you bind, if you loose, if you forbid, if you permit, I will back you up, as long as you do kingdom stuff.”

Evans, founder and senior pastor of Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas, has authored more than 100 books, including the CSB Tony Evans Study Bible and Commentary, the first such work by an African American.

Worshipers filled Friendship Baptist to capacity in the service attended by NAAF and SBC leaders, including NAAF President Frank Williams, senior pastor of two New York churches, Bronx and Wake-Eden Community; NAAF Executive Director Dennis Mitchell; SBC President Ed Litton, senior pastor of Saraland, Ala., Redemption; SBC Executive Committee Chairman Rolland Slade, senior pastor of El Cajon, Calif., Meridian; Executive Committee Interim CEO Willie McLaurin; Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission Acting President Brent Leatherwood, as well as other NAAF officers. Kenneth C. Curry Jr. was host pastor.

Litton encouraged NAAF in doing God’s work.

“This is God’s work, and it’s a good work, and it’s hard work,” Litton said, “but it’s God’s work and they can’t stop. God bless you, church.”

Greg Perkins, NAAF Western Region director and senior pastor of Menifee, Calif., The View, moderated the event and recognized former NAAF presidents in attendance, including Mark Croston, national director of Black Church Ministries at Lifeway Christian Resources; Ken Weathersby, retired SBC Executive Committee vice president for convention advancement; A.B. Vines, senior pastor of Spring Valley, Calif., New Seasons; Robert Anderson, senior pastor of Randallstown, Md., Colonial; and Michael Pigg, team leader of evangelism for the South Carolina Baptist Convention.

Perkins recognized New Orleans, La., Franklin Avenue, led by senior pastor and former SBC President Fred Luter, as a “pacesetter” in missions giving among African American churches; and honored Southaven, Miss., Browns Memorial, led by senior pastor Bartholomew Orr, as a leading Southern Baptist church in baptisms.