Bringing Jesus Back into the Conversation: A Reflection on Faith and Community

Hey family, welcome to another episode of Church on the Block! We had the honoring of hosting our special guest, author, emcee and CHH veteran, Sho Baraka. We delved into various topics, including the church, hip hop, and life on the streets. We also took a trip down memory lane, reminiscing about he and Pastah J’s college days, getting saved at a Jesus rally and their shared love for hip hop.

A Shared Love for Hip Hop

Our conversation kicked off with a warm welcome to Sho Baraka, a friend and fellow hip hop enthusiast. It’s a true testimony to the power of hip hop to unite and uplift. Pastah J and Sho Baraka shared fond memories of their time at Tuskegee University, where they formed a group called 35th Element. They discussed how hip hop’s diversity helped them connect with people from different walks of life.

A Life-Changing Encounter

Sho Baraka shared a riveting story about a freestyle battle that led to a life-changing encounter. After a confrontation with a rival crew, Sho found himself at a crossroads. The disappointment in the eyes of their Bible study leader made him reconsider his actions. This moment marked a turning point in Sho’s life, leading him to attend Bible study more seriously.

Sho’s transformation didn’t stop there. He introduced his crew to Christian hip hop artists like Cross Movement and Grits. Pastah J also had a life-changing experience, leading him to give his life to the Lord. Together, they formed a hip hop group called Ecclesiastes, inspired by the book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible.

The Impact of Christian Hip Hop

Pastah J and Sho Baraka reflected on their college days and their journey into Christian hip hop. They reminisced about performing at events like the lyricist lounge on campus and their introduction to many Christian hip hop artists. They shared their desire to make a positive impact on their campus, earning them the nickname “rally ites” due to their involvement in the Jesus rally.

The Artistry and Jesus Message in Christian Music

Our conversation took a turn towards the importance of creating quality music. We discussed the dangers of rushing to release content just to stay relevant. We used Stevie Wonder’s albums as an example, which were released once a year and were highly anticipated because every song was a hit. We emphasized the need for artists to take time with their craft, allowing it to simmer and bake, rather than constantly churning out new material without depth or substance.

The Balance in Christian Hip Hop

We also touched on the overcorrection in Christian hip hop, where artists are trying to distance themselves from certain associations and create music that is more culturally engaging. We stressed the need for a balance, with music that speaks to the church and music that reaches beyond its walls.

Personal Reflections and Insights

Pastor Jay reflected on his personal journey, emphasizing the importance of being in community and studying the scriptures. He shared his realization of the need to bring Jesus back into the conversation and make Him a priority in everything they do.

Sho Baraka shared his own experiences and observations, emphasizing the importance of focusing on God rather than the gifts He gives. DJ Ruckus shared his journey of frustration and anger during the pandemic, and how he had to remind himself of his relationship with Christ.

The Importance of Authenticity

Pastor Phil shared a real-life story to illustrate the importance of being authentic and transparent in our faith journeys. We often hide the truth and only show the surface of our lives, just like the husband in my story who told his wife about the water in the carburetor of their car, without mentioning that the car was in the swimming pool. We need to be real and honest about what we’re going through, trusting in Christ to help us navigate our challenges.

Thank you for tuning in. See you next episode.

Sho Baraka pictured with his wife and children


The college connection (00:04:14) Pastah J and Sho Baraka discuss how they connected in college through their love for hip hop and formed a group called 35th Element.

Hip hop as a means of connection (00:06:28) Sho Baraka shares how hip hop helped him get to know people from different places and how it created a sense of community on the college campus.

Believers in the beginning (00:08:56) Pastah J and Sho Baraka clarify that they were not believers when they first met in college, but hip hop was their common ground.

The battle and the dorm room incident (00:09:40) A story about a rap battle and the subsequent altercation that occurred later that night in a dorm room.

Confrontation on the quad (00:11:38) Pastah J and Sho recall a confrontation between their crew and another crew on the quad, where tensions escalated and a large group of people gathered.

Transition to Christian hip hop (00:15:48) Pastah J and Sho discuss their transition to Christian hip hop and the impact it had on their lives, including moving back into the dorms and leaving behind certain behaviors.

The Lyricist Lounge event (00:19:38) Pastor J and Sho discuss their involvement in the Lyricist Lounge event on campus and how it introduced them to Christian hip hop artists.

Making much of Jesus (00:20:08) They talk about their enthusiasm for making Jesus known on campus and how their boldness in sharing their faith sometimes went too far.

Different camps in Christian hip hop (00:26:45) Discussion on the different camps and styles within Christian hip hop, including the Cross Movement, Grits, and Tunnel Rats, and how they influenced their own approach to the genre.

The importance of taking time to create quality content (00:30:04) Discussion about the value of putting in the time and effort to create high-quality content, using the analogy of Stevie Wonder taking a year to produce an album with every song being a hit.

The danger of sacrificing art for relevance (00:31:25) Highlighting how artists often prioritize staying relevant over creating meaningful and impactful art, leading to a dilution of quality and a lack of depth in their work.

The need for artists to descend from the hill and engage with the people (00:32:24) Discussion on the importance of artists not only ascending to success but also descending from their elevated positions to connect with and serve the community. They use the analogy of Moses descending from the mountain to engage with the people.

The Slippery Slope of Losing Focus on Jesus (00:40:46) Discussion on the dangers of prioritizing gifts over the giver, losing focus on Jesus in conversations about justice.

The Importance of Intelligible and Thoughtful Lrics (00:44:19) Exploration of the decline of the art form, the desire for rap to be intelligent and meaningful.

Struggling with Anger and Frustration (00:47:58) Personal experiences shared about getting caught up in anger, the need to remember Christ and maintain relationships with Him.

Real Talk (00:50:47) Pastor Phil shares a story about a husband who mistakenly thinks there is water in the carburetor of his car, highlighting the importance of being honest and real in life.

Our Lives in the Swimming Pool (00:51:17) Pastor Phil uses the car in the swimming pool analogy to emphasize how often people hide the truth and present a false image, urging listeners to be real and trust in Christ.

Trust in Christ (00:51:34) Pastor Phil encourages listeners to trust in Christ and be honest about their struggles, assuring them that God will help them overcome challenges and restart their lives.

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