“For those of you that think gospel music has gone too far, you think we got too radical with your message, well, I got news for you. You ain’t heard nothin’ yet.”
If those lyrics resonate with you in any way, it’s likely because you remember the 1997 gospel hit “Stomp” by Kirk Franklin that had the church rocking. While the song is based around lifting radical praises despite life’s circumstances, the opening line offers a bold and audacious declaration that the innovation and creativity of Christians cannot be boxed in. A textbook example of this radical innovation is Touré Roberts.
Roberts is the current pastor of ONE (Formerly One Church LA), serving over 7,500 local members and an online viewership of more than 700,000 subscribers. And while his faith and work in the church have catapulted him to success in the religious sector, Roberts had a lucrative career in the tech industry.
During an April 2022 conversation with Blavity, Inc. CEO Morgan DeBaun on her Work Smart podcast, Roberts detailed that his early twenties were spent building out data centers for large companies. Although his work for the corporate tech company he was employed for was successful, he saw an opportunity in the work he was doing to launch his own company.
He did just that. Touré Roberts noticed that the company he worked for supplied the product for data centers but outsourced the installation of those products. In 1998, he stepped into the gap and became that outsourcing party, building a lucrative tech company.
However, all of this shifted once Roberts turned 26-years-old, and had what he described as a radical spiritual encounter. Since then, he left Corporate America but didn’t abandon his business and tech roots.
On Nov. 13-17, Blavity, Inc. hosted AfroTech Conference 2022, the place for all things Black in tech and Web3. And with a host of several noteworthy speakers, Touré Roberts stepped on the stage, delivering an impactful message on “The Magical Intersection of Purpose, Equity, and Innovation.”
Perfectly poised to discuss the range of his career and life’s work, Roberts inspired listeners to latch on hope to activate innovation and advance their careers.
“When I talk about innovation, everyone else talks about imagination and solving problems. But if you don’t have belief and faith, you can’t innovate. So, I think to build something, you have to have faith. You have to believe that you can produce something that isn’t there and that you have equity within yourself to do it,” Roberts explained in an interview with AfroTech.
This concept carries over to his most current, prominent endeavor, ONE. With an extensive media ministry and virtual engagement, Roberts continues to leverage technology to push his church forward, build community among the people connected to the work he’s divinely called to, and uplift those to live out their purpose.
“My contribution is to get people, especially people of color, to recognize their equity. My role is to speak to that equity because if you don’t believe you have it, you don’t. But if you know that ethnicity is not working against me, but it’s working for me and that you have someone to encourage that and speak to that, then you can rise, believe in yourself, believe in your equity, and learn how to leverage it,” Roberts explained to us.
As Roberts and his work have progressed over the years, he described his process as innovative evolution.
“Innovation actually is evolution. Even when you look at the term innovation, it’s not starting something from scratch. It’s taking something that is and building upon it. Even in science, there are scientific breakthroughs based on previous breakthroughs. So as life evolves, the world evolves, as people evolve, and our views evolve – those parallels with innovation. That’s the beauty of us. It is the ingenuity to take what is and make it better,” Roberts said.
It’s no doubt why Roberts had the Main Stage audience captivated at the AfroTech Conference with his profound wisdom and years of technical expertise. And if there was one thing he wanted folks to leave knowing, it is that people must continue to evolve.
“Innovation won’t come from striving. It’s coming from a place of peace and rest. I have never gone to the next level of being stressed out. When you find peace, success and innovation come easily.”