045 | Hillsong’s Sam Collier on Boundaries, What’s Causing America’s Racial Divide and Planting a Church with His Spouse, Part 2
January 28, 2021
Even following the disruption of 2020 and early 2021, church planters are continuing to find new opportunities for relationships and fundraising, while also leading their congregations in difficult conversations coming out of a year fraught with tension.
In recent ChurchPulse Weekly episodes, Carey Nieuwhof sits down with Sam Collier—who, along with his wife Toni, is launching Hillsong Atlanta—to talk about church planting amidst a pandemic, building intentional relationships with congregants and a new perspective on America’s racial unrest.
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Confusion Is a Great Threat to Racial Justice and Unity
In a year filled with significant racial unrest across the United States, Barna found that three-quarters of Black Americans report a sense of powerlessness (an even higher percentage than when previous data from 1996) in the political sphere. While it’s clear that political divisions and historical inequities are only making the pursuit of racial justice and unity difficult, Nieuwhof and Collier dig deeper to uncover the root of the nation’s current chaos.
From Collier’s perspective, confusion is at the heart of the problem. He notes, “When America gets confused, we cannot agree on what to condemn and what not to. That, in my opinion, is what keeps us from progress, and I believe it’s the work of the enemy to confuse us.”
In order to move forward, Collier urges leaders and individuals to look for common ground. “The majority of Americans agree that racism is wrong. The majority agree that nobody should ever be rioting at the Capitol. The majority of Americans believe that protests, peaceful protests are okay. [When] we can’t figure out what is happening and who did what, we end up fighting over our confusion… and it’s our confusion that’s killing us and dividing us.”
Leading Amidst Racial Tension
Following such an unprecedented year, church leaders are tired, struggling not to burn out. Collier admits his own exhaustion and reluctance to carry on this work when it becomes so taxing but encourages persistence. He cautions, “The enemy wants to silence Christians… He’s going to do everything he can to make it so uncomfortable that we’re quiet.”
For leaders overwhelmed from the pressure of pleasing all sides, Collier encourages focusing only on your target audience instead of trying to please every person with a differing opinion. Collier states, “Figure out who you’re talking to and let everybody else go.”
About the Research
The research presented from Barna’s 2016 monograph, Church Startups and Money included both qualitative and quantitative studies. Qualitative research for this study consisted of individual interviews of 20 church planters across the United States, conducted by Barna researchers via webcam. The quantitative survey was administered online to leaders of churches (or of similar ministries) that self-identify as being “in start-up mode.” A total of 769 church planters participated in the survey, which was conducted August to November 2014.
ChurchPulse Data: Barna Group conducted these online surveys among Protestant Senior Pastors from March 20–September 28, 2020. Participants are all members of Barna Group’s Church Panel. Minimal weighting has been used to ensure the sample is representative based on denomination, region and church size.
Data Collection Dates:
Week 1, n=222, March 20-23, 2020
Week 2, n=212, March 24-30, 2020
Week 3, n=195, March 31-April 6, 2020
Week 4, n=246, April 7-13, 2020
Week 5, n=204, April 14-20, 2020
Week 6, n=164, April 21-27, 2020
Week 7, n=167, April 28-May 4, 2020
Week 8, n=165, May 5-11, 2020
Week 9, n=184, May 12-18, 2020
Weeks 10 and 11, n=191, May 19-June 1, 2020
Week 12, n=203, June 26-29, 2020
Week 13, n=256, July 9-14, 2020
Week 14, n=285, July 24-26, 2020
Week 15, n=336, August 13-17, 2020
Week 16, n=315, August 27-31, 2020
Week 17, n=422, September 10-18, 2020
Week 18, n=475, September 24-28, 2020
2020 data on perceptions of political powerlessness among Black adults: Online survey of 1,083 U.S. Black adults, plus 822 Black Church churchgoers, conducted April 22–May 6, 2020. The sample error is plus or minus 2.3 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
Barna is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization under the umbrella of the Issachar Companies. Located in Ventura, California, Barna Group has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.
© Barna Group, 2021