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Imago Dei

Made In His Image

Church Family,

In the summer of 2020, in the wake of George Floyd’s death and civil unrest in our country, we convened the Imago Dei Task Force — a diverse and representative group of church members to discuss these matters, ask the tough questions, and recommend action points for Houston’s First. Instead of just denouncing or declaring on social media about sin in the world, we desired to delve into the scriptures to bring greater unity to the body of Christ, personal growth, and greater glory to God.

We trust the supremacy of Jesus, not the supremacy of any person or race. The Lord brings joy and changes people’s hearts, worldviews, priorities, and actions. Believers in Christ are called to grow in their faith, walk in forgiveness and the full life Jesus provides. Change is possible. What someone’s family line believed or lived out in previous generations is not projected upon the current individual and, thankfully, even a personal history of racism can be severed and forgiven by the Gospel. Jesus changes our hearts. We all need the grace of God (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We are grateful the Lord looks at the individual heart, not the ethnicity or background of a person. As a result, we should not place assumptions and labels upon one another (1 Samuel 16:7). God calls us to live together in unity and mutual respect. Each individual speaks for themselves through their words and actions, not for the entirety of their ethnic group. For example, the sinful actions of one person cannot be assumed to be true of all others who may share their ethnicity. Each person is personally accountable to God.

As a church, we are for what the Bible is for and against what the Bible is against. Our desire is to grow spiritually and practically through the lens of biblical discipleship and wisdom.

In Jesus,

Pastor Gregg Matte

We trust the supremacy of Jesus, not the supremacy of any person or race.

— Pastor Gregg Matte

Imago Dei Task Force

Our PurposeCombatting RacismNight of Prayer for The NationCrossing Treacherous WatersPeople, Protests, Police & the Prince of PeaceTask Force MembersRelated Stories

Our Purpose

Embracing that we are all made in the image of God, the Imago Dei Task Force at Houston's First Baptist Church encourages and empowers followers of Jesus Christ to humbly listen to and learn from others’ unique experiences. By doing so, we live out His command to love one another — and give testimony to His sacrificial love.

Combatting Racism

1. What are Houston's First's thoughts on racism?

Racism is sin, and in the strongest terms possible we condemn it. As stated in 1995 in a resolution by the Southern Baptist Convention, we believe that racism “profoundly distorts” our understanding of Christian love. We also condemn the rioting, looting, and violence committed by those seeking to protest racism. While racism is a tremendous problem in our society, it is not the foundation of every harmful act. Such a belief perpetuates a view of ethnic minorities as perpetual victims and of majority groups as perpetual oppressors. It also unjustly convicts, without investigation, the motives of anyone who causes harm to an ethnic minority. Due process is a core element of the American judicial system. (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 19:15; Matthew 18:16; 1 Timothy 5:19; Hebrews 10:28)
2. What has Houston’s First done since the summer of 2020 to combat racism and disciple people from a biblical perspective?
    • Pastor Gregg and our Campus Pastors led us in a dedicated time of prayer for racial reconciliation in early summer of 2020.
    • Pastor Gregg delivered two messages directly addressing the sin of racism. In his series from the book of Revelation, he highlighted how God values ethnic differences and will redeem believers from every ethnic group
    • Pastor Gregg has recruited a number of ethnically diverse guest speakers to preach to our church.
    • We have historically and continue to engage in ministry partnerships with churches representing the ethnic diversity of our church and our city.
    • We offered a discipleship curriculum called Ethnos during mid-week Bible studies at all of our campuses in the spring and summer of 2021. This curriculum was developed by a group of people from our church staff and congregation in 2019. The aim of the Ethnos class is the help us love our neighbor well, especially those who may be different than us. (Matthew 22:39)
      • Ethnos is offered again in the spring of 2022 at The Loop Campus beginning in March. Find details here under "Deeper Discipleship."
    • Going forward, we are inviting (not requiring) our members to further discipleship through reflection and introspection in Life Bible Studies or the Imago Dei curriculum provided by LifeWay. We are striving to realize in our fellowship unity across racial and ethnic lines, truly all lines, that testifies of Jesus, as He prayed in John 17:21:
      “May they all be one, as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You.
      May they also be one in Us,
      so the world may believe You sent Me.”
    • Our goal is not to simply denounce, defend, or declare based on society or current events, but instead to disciple based upon the scriptures.
3. Is Houston's First using Critical Race Theory, Intersectionality, or other social science theories on race relations in their teachings?
In our discipleship efforts, we are not using Critical Race Theory or any other social science theories. We are using only scripture to identify how racism might show up in our personal lives and in our church. We trust that God’s Word “is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). As Christians, our identity is in Jesus Christ; as members of the body of Christ, we see each other as brothers and sisters undivided by race or any other distinction (Galatians 3:28).
4. What does the Imago Dei discipleship curriculum teach?
At the heart of that curriculum is the concept of “Imago Dei” which means every human is made in the Image of God (Genesis 1:27). Combined with the Greatest and Second Greatest Commandments (Matthew 22:38-39) it emphasizes that God wants us to love Him and every one of His image bearers. The curriculum recognizes that no Christian loves perfectly, yet is being renewed into the image of Christ, which we call discipleship (Colossians 3:10). It then invites us to examine how our preferences, though normal if not good, may yet operate to exclude or devalue others (James 2:1-7, Deuteronomy 10:17). Lastly, it invites us to act lovingly towards others by engaging with them personally, empathizing with their experiences, and bearing their burdens (Galatians 6, Romans 12:15-18).
5. Where will members see Imago Dei curriculum and Ethnos taught?
The Imago Dei curriculum is intended for use in Life Bible Studies as each class encounters a natural break in their schedules. If so desired, the director and teacher can teach Imago Dei. They will determine the length of teaching and timing. We plan to offer Ethnos in the future as a mid-week Milestones class at all campuses.
    • Ethnos is offered again in the spring of 2022 at The Loop Campus beginning in March. Find details here under "Deeper Discipleship."

6. What is the purpose of this endeavor?

Our purpose is to faithfully teach biblical principles so we can honor God and love our neighbors well. This is one of the, most polarizing topics in our country and far past man’s ability to solve. We hope this attention and teaching helps to shed biblical light to knit our church closer together, and allow us to reach out to our neighbors with the love of Christ.

Our purpose is to faithfully teach biblical principles so we can honor God and love our neighbors well.

— Imago Dei Task Force

Night of Prayer for The Nation

On June 1, 2020, Pastor Gregg Matte and our three Campus Pastors hosted an online Night of Prayer for The Nation. The date fell in the middle of a season of unrest and anxiety in our nation following the brutal death of George Floyd at the hands of police officers in Minneapolis.

As the nation, the church, and individuals grapple with why and how this and other senseless deaths can happen, Pastor Gregg, Jason, Malcolm, and Lee call upon the Lord for wisdom and healing. Listen to their individual contributions below, or view the entire discussion here. In addition, a curated list of related resources is provided for your reference.

As always, you can share your prayer requests with Houston's First here, by texting PRAYFIRST to 81411, or by calling 713.335.6456.

Pastor Gregg Matte

Jason Swiggart, Cypress Campus Pastor

Malcolm Marshall, Sienna Campus Pastor

Lee Hsia, former Downtown Campus Pastor

NOTE: Lee Hsia joined the staff of Evangelism Explosion in North Carolina full-time in the spring of 2021. Our Downtown Campus Pastor now is Leon Brooks III.

Night of Prayer for The Nation

Crossing Treacherous Waters

Moments from Pastor Gregg's message on June 7, 2020

Watch the Full Message

People, Protests, Police & the Prince of Peace

Amid reports of riots across our nation, Pastor Gregg shared these thoughts in the fall of 2020. You can watch his message here, and read a version of it here.

Task Force Members

The Imago Dei Task Force is comprised of the following lay members, deacons, and staff members representing each of our campuses:

  • Lina Delgado
  • Edward Lawrence
  • Marvin McNeese
  • Alexis Ramos
  • Paul Sanders
  • Jakora Snow
  • Cason White
  • Sandy Wright
  • Staff liaison: Malcolm Marshall
  • Staff assistants: Leon Brooks III, Andi Farrell, Ameer Omar

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