A Chemistry Conversation with Cornell Jordan
Join Matt Steen, co-founder of Chemistry Staffing, and Cornell Jordan, pastor at Metro Assembly in Youngstown, Ohio, as they discuss the tension of having difficult conversations during all of the turmoil we are experiencing.
Cornell Jordan is the lead pastor at Metro Assembly in Youngstown, Ohio. He's an influencer, a veteran youth ministry guru, and he often travels overseas to aid in ministry and leadership. Learn more about Cornell and his ministry by visiting Cornell Jordan Ministries.
We'd love to hear your strategies for addressing this with your congregation (just email us at firstname.lastname@example.org). As always, we are here for you, and we're praying for churches and teams all over the United States!
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Cornell Jordan: Well I think first and foremost, I want to just thank you for this opportunity. I think for me what I'm sensing and what I'm learning is that communication is key. It's vital in relationships because when you're communicating, you're actually establishing and investing in relationships and that matters a ton. So when people are not talking, when they're not sharing ideas and thoughts, perspectives together one-to-one all kinds of nastiness comes about. The scriptures say we must be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry. So if we're not doing those things, then we in my opinion we get a lot of these things that we're walking through right now. So because of the COVID and us having to be socially distanced and not being able to readily talk face-to-face with folks, a lot of ideas and frustrations build and as a result some of these things have come about. So for us, what we've tried to do is we've tried to always keep the bible as our center, keep that as the final say irregardless of our own personal perspectives or experiences. And as we do that, that has to be the level playing field for all of us if we call ourselves Christians. So in a nutshell, that's what we try to do is keep it about the bible.
Matt Steen: I like what you said as far as communication being key and just how important relationships are in this season. And you said it, we're in many cases - I don’t remember where Ohio is right now, but I guess you guys are slowly starting to reopen as a state. But in this season where you've been so distanced, how do you communicate in a way that allows us to keep our relationships fresh so we don't start talking at each other but we continue to talk with each other?
Cornell Jordan: Well that's the toughness of the task I guess I would say. One of the things that I have done personally is I've tried to stay in front of our people using the various social media platforms. So you know a lot of churches had to make adjustments to go online and stream and those sorts of things. So it's not just the learning curve of doing that regularly but having all the things that you need to do it effectively and with quality. So for me I guess I've just tried to stay in front of our people a couple of times a week. I've also had to have offline conversations with people to stay connected with folks more regularly. Just tried to set the foundation that, hey, at the end of the day we're called to love God and love others. And even with all the tensions that are taking place politically and racially, again the bible has to be our playbook for life, even in such times.
Matt Steen: Yeah. I read this story last night. We didn't talk about this ahead of time, so I apologize if I catch you off guard. I read a story yesterday in the New York Times about a Baptist pastor. I think it's First Baptist Williamson in Alabama where he basically, early in his season this pastor was walking through the beatitudes, made some comments about Syrian refugees and that started kind of a witch hunt almost because people thought he was too liberal for the church and now he's on his way out the door, that kind of thing. But that's kind of the season we're in where it feels like we're either too liberal or not liberal enough or too conservative or not conservative enough, and it seems like everybody is using some sort of non-communicated expectation and thinking less of other people. As pastors, we're always in a thankless job. It seems like we should always be doing something else or something more or going and visiting more people, that kind of thing. How do you help your crowd set aside some of that type of thinking, the us/them thinking, that they're not political enough in one way or shape... or are you just avoiding that altogether? I mean, how are your walking that line?
Cornell Jordan: Well first and foremost, I think as Christians we can't duck and dive what's happening in the culture. If we're Christians, we have to engage the culture instead of allowing the culture to engage us. So what that means for us, what I try to simply do is say to folks it's okay to have your thoughts or opinions and maybe your experiences, but at the end of the day we are Christ followers and the scriptures tell us that we have been made new. We need to have our minds conformed to the image, the standard of the Lord and not of the culture. And so what that looks like in real terms is you can pick a side, whether it's conservative or liberal, but at the end of the day your side has to be subject to what the word of God says. Does that make sense? So it's not so much about what I personally think or even what I might say to someone else. It's really about what God is saying to me. You see what I'm trying to say? I have to humble myself to his word because at the end of the day for us, what I've tried to communicate to our people, the gospel in itself, it's confrontational, but it's confrontational for the glory of God. Does that make sense? If our conversations, our posts, our actions and all those things aren't leading folks to God and taking away from our testimony, then we need to really allow the Holy Spirit to challenge our thoughts.
Matt Steen: Yeah, yeah. Did you just say our posts? Because I thought Facebook was exempt from that.
Cornell Jordan: [laughing] Right. Too funny.
Matt Steen: Cornell, this is really helpful. I want to be respectful of your time because I know you've got people working on your house all of the sudden. Happy Monday, right.
Cornell Jordan: Right, right, good word.
Matt Steen: If you could leave some of the guys that are watching this, some of our pastor friends, with one thought as they continue to care well for their congregation, their community in these days, what would it be?
Cornell Jordan: That's simple. It's something that's being repeated again and again and again. It's this. It's the concept of relational capital. You can even call it relational equity. Meaning we have to win the right to speak in people's lives, both Christians and non-Christians. It's hard for me to go right out on the street and share Christ with someone that has no connection or relationship with me. Now I can do that generally. If a senior drops their bag, I can be just courteous and help them to pick up things. But generally speaking, we have to win the right to speak in people's lives. So when we have these conversations, Matt, what's happening is we're building relational equity, capital, and what that means is that... it's like putting money in the bank. Here's the problem that a lot of churches, pastors have had. They're withdrawing from an account that they've never invested into. Does that make sense?
Matt Steen: Oh, that stings.
Cornell Jordan: Right, right. When I say relational equity or capital, I'm saying you have the conversation, even if it's just you listening, even if you have a different perspective, even if the Holy Spirit is saying come back later and address this situation. It's the capital that matters. See, because I can't take something out of a bank that I haven't placed in. We call that overdraft, right? That's a lot of what's happening right now. If I can challenge my peers and help them, it's to do exactly what we talked about. Have those conversations, even the tough ones. We can't as a church be afraid to talk about and have discussions that are difficult. That's why we have the word and the wisdom that the Holy Spirit gives us, so that we can navigate these conversations in a way that honors the Lord.
Matt Steen: That's strong. That's strong, man, thank you. Conversation, not monologue, not lecture, not anything like that. It's conversation.
Cornell Jordan: That's right. That's exactly. Yep.
Matt Steen: That's awesome.
Cornell Jordan: Yep, no sweat.
Matt Steen: Cornell, thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate you stepping in this morning and sharing a little bit with us. Really, really grateful for what you're sharing.
Cornell Jordan: I appreciate the opportunity to share.