The Liberated Church

Nov 25, 2015   //   by efremsmith   //   race, reconciliation, spiritual growth, the church  //  2 Comments

The Church in the United States needs to be set free. We need a liberated church in order for greater Kingdom advancement and life transformation to take place. We need a liberated church to serve as a force of reconciliation in an ever-increasing multi-ethnic, multicultural, and metropolitan mission field. We need this because the church is currently held captive, to a degree, by systems and forces of this broken world. I believe the crisis that the American church faces is directly related to its captivity and denial thereof.

The Church in the United States began as a movement and institution held captive by the social matrix of race. The institution of slavery and the system of Jim Crow showed that the church was held captive by race. The social construct of race still holds us captive. We can see this more recently in the deadly shootings and physical altercations leading to the death of unarmed African-Americans at the hands of police officers, as well as the rise of the Black Lives Matter Movement. Just follow the rhetoric of many Christians on social media regarding today’s racial tensions and challenges and you will see how expansive the plantation is on which the church labors.

As we move into the 2016 political season, we see another way in which the church is held captive. Verbally vicious and extreme political ideology has a hold on the church of the United States. When I served as a senior pastor of an urban, evangelical, and multi-ethnic church in the Midwest, I had to make sure that political ideology was not a worldly weapon that would tear our congregation apart. Some in the congregation were more driven by radio and cable news political commentators than Scripture. As I’ve talked to other pastors within evangelicalism, I have come to understand that this is a challenge in many churches.

If the church in the United States is going to show more fruit in the areas of evangelism, discipleship, and the development of Kingdom Laborers, we must begin by striving for our own freedom. The church is supposed to be the bride of Christ. The church is God’s frontline vehicle for leading people held captive by sin into the freedom of new life found in Christ. This cannot happen when the church is enslaved.

See more:

The Next Evangelicalism by Dr. Soong-Chan Rah

The Post-Black and Post-White Church by Efrem Smith

The American Church in Crisis by David Olson

Divided by Faith by Michael Emerson and Christian Smith




  • I also think the American Christian church is held captive by this idea that America was once this great Christian nation and is now fallen away from God. While there are certainly some aspects of Americans earliest days and throughout its history that are based on some Biblical values, so many verses in the Bible had to come completely ignored or violated in order for slavery, legal discrimination, Jim Crow laws etc to exist . The second greatest commandment “love your neighbor as yourself” is just one of hundreds I could quote ( and would be happy to if asked) that show America was never a Christian nation. How can someone violate hundreds of verses in scripture and claim to be Christian . I have heard a few Christians say that Ephesians 6:5-9 makes allowances for slavery but the type of slavery that was practiced in America is in complete violation of those Scriptures. I think it is really important for Christians to spend time reading the Bible and realizing how much God loves all people and wants justice for all and working towards that instead of spending so much time being held captive to a notion that never did exist

  • Sorry, I should have gone back to reread before I posted. I noticed I made a few mistakes.
    Should read ” some aspects of America’s earliest history”
    “So many verses in the Bible bad to be completely ignored”
    “work towards that”

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