Bridging the Faith-Culture Gap
with A.R. Bernard
Q: You didn’t become a believer until you were an adult. What was your attitude about faith leading up to that time?
A: Faith was a deep curiosity from childhood to young adulthood. I intuitively knew that God, truth, and reality were somehow synonymous. To find one would be to find the other two. I am a product of the social and spiritual revolutions of the sixties so it shaped my appetite for faith and identity.
Q: What ultimately convinced you to reach out for more than what you were experiencing? How did your relationship with God begin?
A: I became part of a socio-political-religious movement called the Nation of Islam. I found cultural identity, order, discipline, and strength – but I didn’t find God. A year before I got saved, the Lord placed a secretary in my life that began to speak with me about Jesus is a very personal way. I was intrigued. The conversations went on for a year. She invited my wife and I to a meeting on January 11, 1975 where a genteel man named Nicky Cruz was sharing his story of how Christ saved him from leading a notorious street gang by the name of the Mau Maus. That night, at that meeting, I encountered Jesus in a deep and profound way. My life was radically transformed. It started me on a whole new spiritual journey.
Q: Before going into full-time ministry, you left a successful career in banking. Describe how and why you felt led to take that leap of faith.
A: After coming to Christ and immersing myself in the Church and Scripture, I came to the conclusion that my life’s calling was not in banking. I felt a deep inner call to ministry, but had no idea how it would play out. My object was to hear God’s voice, get the support of seasoned spiritual leadership, and understand the best way to respond to this new sense of calling. After much counsel and slow beginnings, I took the leap of faith into full time ministry November 1, 1979.
Q: Today, CCC has over 37,000 members and is influencing New York in a powerful way. But it all started with small beginnings. Describe the early days and how this church grew into the life-giving ministry it is now.
A: It all began in a kitchen holding Bible studies with a handful of people. On the job we also had a small study group. That eventuates into a storefront in Williamsburg Brooklyn. Our intimate fellowship increased by word of mouth and took 7 years to grow to 325 members. We focused on making disciples and building community. Like the children of Israel, we wandered from venue to venue to accommodate our growing numbers. We held services in commercial lofts, local high schools, hotels, etc. until we purchased our own building in 1988. Having a home facilitated exponential growth. From 1989 to 1999 we grew from 625 to 11,000 members, holding 5 services per week. We grew in numbers, stature, and influence bringing God’s grace to our community and city. By 1998 we were purchasing 11.5 acres of land to accommodate the growth and establish the headquarters of Christian Cultural Center.
Q: A large part of your ministry is bridging the gap between faith and culture. Traditionally, these two don’t mix. How are you changing that perception?
A: I witnessed the transformation Christ had in my own life spiritually, socially, politically, culturally and knew that He could do it for others. I am amazed at God’s transformational presence in the world. He saves the individual, and then uses the individual to effect change in the world. Jesus said go into all the “world” (the social order and all of its institutions) and expose it to the message of Christ spiritually, socially, politically, economically, morally.
Q: You have never been afraid to tackle hot-button issues. Do you think it’s important for believers to get involved in the social issues that are shaping the culture? Why, or why not?
A: Whether believers admit it or not, everything that happens in the world impacts the church and the believer directly or indirectly. We have just come through a century of the church preaching separation but practicing isolation. When the church is disengaged from society, society devolves into spiritual, moral and social decay.
Q: The racial divide that exists in America has reached a fever pitch over the last few years. How should the church respond to this crisis in order to bring healing and reconciliation?
A: The Black Muslim Movement, of which I became a part, was formed to protest White America and the Christian Church’s failure to forcefully address the socio-economic plight of blacks in this country. America has tried to avoid the conversation that can bring healing and is now being forced to have that conversation by the present socio-political climate. I think this is a great opportunity for the church to get into the conversation and bring a Christ-like perspective to it. Although used as an oppressive tool by some, the message of the Gospel still became the great influencer of the civil rights movement in America.
Q:. What’s one thing that you feel people need to understand about this very important, divisive issue?
A: The principle of metastasis. To think that some citizens can live unaffected by the ills of other communities is absurd in this day and age. When something is allowed to continue in one area, it will spread to the next until the whole is infected by it. Scripture says, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.”
Q: What can Daystar viewers expect to see on your program when it launches?
A: They will hear teachings, see interviews and special reports that will make their faith in Jesus more practical and socially applicable.
Q: What kind of effect do you hope to have on viewers who watch your program on Daystar?
A: “The quality of your thinking determines the quality of your life!” I want to help viewers change the way they think about God, themselves, and the world around them and become reflections of God’s love, life, and light in the world!
Q: What lesson have you learned in your relationship with the Lord that has impacted you the most?
A: It’s not what you achieve in life, but the person you become in the process.
Q: A major part of your ministry is educating and developing leaders. Why is that mission so important to you?
A: Everything rises and falls on leadership. When you influence leaders, you influence all the people their gifts and ministry will touch.
Q: What do you hope to impart to the next generation of ministry leaders as they are prepared to live with purpose?
A: That they can present a relevant Christ to the world without losing their Christian identity.
Experience the powerful TV ministry of distinguished leader A.R. Bernard, whose supernatural gift for interpreting and communicating scripture, educates and inspires viewers with treasured teachings and biblical solutions that heal, uplift and transform. His thought-provoking messages motivate viewers and stir their hearts to navigate life with newfound hope, wisdom, and strength. Bernard’s teachings explore how the Christian faith should shape our daily walk and every aspect of our lives within today’s current culture.
See A.R. Bernard Sundays at 6:30pm ET on Daystar!