The African American Church

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Tyrese

Puritan Board Sophomore
Is it just me or does their need to be more reformed african american churches, not just african americans who attend reformed churches? As a Reformed Baptist im really struggling with this issue. I love my church and I wouldnt trade it for the world, but there needs to be a real reformation in the black church.
 

JML

Puritan Board Junior
Is it just me or does their need to be more reformed african american churches, not just african americans who attend reformed churches? As a Reformed Baptist im really struggling with this issue. I love my church and I wouldnt trade it for the world, but there needs to be a real reformation in the black church.

My prayer is that one day there will not be "white churches", "African American churches", and "Hispanic churches." The church is one of the most non-integrated places in the country and it is saddening to see. We should all seek to reach those in our community regardless of race and bring them into the church.
 
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M_Scott

Puritan Board Freshman
I would say most churches in general should be reformed. I don't know if it's a majority or not but the religious channels offered by my cable provider seem to have mostly black preachers, both male and female, and it's not uncommon to see titles like apostle or prophet so and so associated with their name. Then you have the likes of Osteen, Myers, Copeland, on and on, like I said most churches need reforming in very important ways!
 

Jeffriesw

Puritan Board Freshman
Is it just me or does their need to be more reformed african american churches, not just african americans who attend reformed churches? As a Reformed Baptist im really struggling with this issue. I love my church and I wouldnt trade it for the world, but there needs to be a real reformation in the black church.


I can't really speak for black Churches per se, but there definitely needs to be more reformed Churches as a whole, it is not easy to find a decent reformed Church in a lot of places. Truly sad.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
I've been praying for this for a while. I know this is going to rub some people the wrong way, but part of it would mean being intentional about partnering with Black (and Hispanic) churches. It's going to be messy and it's going to involve being honest about our own latent racism---but that's what needs to happen.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
I've been praying for this for a while. I know this is going to rub some people the wrong way, but part of it would mean being intentional about partnering with Black (and Hispanic) churches. It's going to be messy and it's going to involve being honest about our own latent racism---but that's what needs to happen.

What do you mean by latent racism?

CT

---------- Post added at 04:37 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:09 PM ----------

Is it just me or does their need to be more reformed african american churches, not just african americans who attend reformed churches? As a Reformed Baptist im really struggling with this issue. I love my church and I wouldnt trade it for the world, but there needs to be a real reformation in the black church.

My prayer is that one day there will not be "white churches", "African American churches", and "Hispanic churches." The church is one of the most segregated places in the country and it is saddening to see. We should all seek to reach those in our community regardless of race and bring them into the church.

I don't think segregated is the proper word. I think non-integrated is a better one. I think segregation implies some sort of government rule against various races, economic classes etc. being together in one church. Non-integrated implies that the various groups freely choose to be apart for a myriad of reasons.

Here is something to chew on - Keller: Multi-ethnic churches are good, but monoethnic is ok, unless the mono is white « Johannes Weslianus
 

JML

Puritan Board Junior
I don't think segregated is the proper word. I think non-integrated is a better one. I think segregation implies some sort of government rule against various races, economic classes etc. being together in one church. Non-integrated implies that the various groups freely choose to be apart for a myriad of reasons.

Good point. Non-integrated is a better term. Thanks for your input.
 

Rufus

Puritan Board Junior
The Church (not just individual churches, thee Church) is made up of all people from all nations, so if there is an area were ethnic boundaries collide than the church shouldn't prevent (or discourage) those from other groups from entering.
 

Unoriginalname

Puritan Board Junior
What do you mean by latent racism?
I will bite, while I think these things are sometimes played up I think they still exist to an extent. I grew up and still live in a working class white urban neighborhood. If you moved in next door to me it would be perceived as the neighborhood going downhill because in many white philadelphians' minds' the black neighborhoods are the bad ones (with some exceptions of course). Of course that is wrong but it is what it is. Another thing is if you joined a church that was predominately white it might not raise any eyebrows but if there was an influx of blacks into a historically white church in a short period of time their might be this feeling of unease.
This is really engrained into many people's psyches along with the twin notion that it is wrong to be a racist. So just speaking for myself there is this difficult to articulate conflict where I may look at you differently (not in a sense that I think you are inferior but somehow simply different from me and my normal). However I know it is wrong and want to change it. Yet I may also look at you and think that you think I am a racist so I need to prove you wrong. So I would say many whites are while not necessarily hateful towards blacks are uncomfortable around them. Especially around blacks in the corporate sense. This conflict may not really come up in a one on one interaction but once we talk about interacting on a cultural level it becomes difficult. I hope that clarifies and you do not think I am a horrible person for stating this.
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Eric, I think you're spot-on. The other thing I'll say is that whites (and I'm as prone to this as anyone) tend to have a paternalistic attitude toward blacks. If we want to work with and for our black brothers in the faith, then we need to be willing to get dirty, go and get involved in their neighbourhoods. And this means moving out of comfortable suburbia.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
What do you mean by latent racism?
I will bite, while I think these things are sometimes played up I think they still exist to an extent. I grew up and still live in a working class white urban neighborhood. If you moved in next door to me it would be perceived as the neighborhood going downhill because in many white philadelphians' minds' the black neighborhoods are the bad ones (with some exceptions of course). Of course that is wrong but it is what it is.

Why is such wrong? Statistically such belief looks to be justified.

Another thing is if you joined a church that was predominately white it might not raise any eyebrows but if there was an influx of blacks into a historically white church in a short period of time their might be this feeling of unease.

I don't see a problem with a sense of unease here either. A sense of unease does not mean that anyone is treated in a mean fashion etc. It seems fair to ask why such an influx would occur out of the blue. If there was a particular outreach plan, it would make sense, but otherwise it would be a bit weird. The only thing that would be problematic is if the new folks show themselves to be legit and one cannot become more confortable over time.

This is really engrained into many people's psyches along with the twin notion that it is wrong to be a racist. So just speaking for myself there is this difficult to articulate conflict where I may look at you differently (not in a sense that I think you are inferior but somehow simply different from me and my normal). However I know it is wrong and want to change it.

But when you look at me, the profile of people who look similar to me, is not very positive. To act as if such profile is positive, is just to deny reality. No one is benefited when reality is denied.

Yet I may also look at you and think that you think I am a racist so I need to prove you wrong. So I would say many whites are while not necessarily hateful towards blacks are uncomfortable around them. Especially around blacks in the corporate sense. This conflict may not really come up in a one on one interaction but once we talk about interacting on a cultural level it becomes difficult. I hope that clarifies and you do not think I am a horrible person for stating this.

I don't consider you hateful for stating such.

CT
 

JS116

Puritan Board Freshman
I learned my lesson about speaking my mind about "race" and the church early in the game here, so I'm keeping quiet :)

On a serious note..to the OP there are numerous amount of resources dealing with the exact same questions you have. Look into buying or listening to some resources by some reformed African Americans , Anthony Carter,Anthony Bradley,Carl Ellis,Ken Jones and Thabiti Anyabwile just to name a few to start you off.These faithful men for years have been laboring hard to seek out a reformational change within the predominantly African American churches and communities.

There is a lot that has been said and a lot being said on the matter of different "races" or ethnic groups within the church and equipping them to preach and live out the gospel faithfully.One thing I would encourage you to do is go to Home - Desiring God and look up the John Piper, Tim Keller, Anthony Bradley discussion on race it really gives very helpful insight to those who are humble and willing enough to listen.
 

Alan D. Strange

Puritan Board Senior
I appreciate what Eric, Phil, Shawn, and others are saying.

I've talked to some of you privately about this matter. As an American Presbyterian historian, I can assure you that the issue of race is huge and is not going away. We can ignore our past racial history. But it's not going away. As Faulkner said, "the past is never dead. It's not even past." If anybody has the capacity to understand this, it's the people of the covenant. This does not mean that there's no forgiveness. That's the beauty. There is forgiveness to those who confess sin. But our past sin is no more unimportant, particularly when unrecognized, as the sins of the fathers were insignificant to those delivered from the wilderness or Babylon.

Who is better equipped to deal with this than the Reformed and Presbyterian Churches? We ought to be able to confess past sins, since we don't downplay (in our theology at least) sin. We don't have (again, theologically) a "pull yourself up by your bootstrap" religion. We know that from first to last salvation is of the Lord. This is good news. To racists of all colors. Eric's honesty is refreshing. Both he and Philip are young and I sense in them a weariness with the denials of the past. We need honesty with each other and openness and confession.

I say kudos to those like Piper, Keller, and others who are recognizing this and trying to break through. This is not easy. Lincoln knew that it wasn't and he was honest about both the nation's racism (including his own) and the need for justice for those who were for so long so wrongly oppressed. Read the Second Inaugural Address--the most remarkable address of its sort in this nation's history.

I deeply appreciate, Shawn, what you mean by "learned my lesson." But I implore you not to stop. Why cannot this forum be one to promote our own version of breaking down the middle wall of partition and realizing what Paul meant in Galatians 3:28?

Peace,
Alan
 

CuriousNdenver

Puritan Board Sophomore
But when you look at me, the profile of people who look similar to me, is not very positive. To act as if such profile is positive, is just to deny reality. No one is benefited when reality is denied.

Brother, there are many ways to look at this: ask Trayvon Martin's parents. Profiling is looking at numbers and statistics, not people. Not everyone fits this profile and to make the assumption that when certain ethnic groups move into a neighborhood it will go downhill is simply not true, nor do I find it excusable among believers. I know many African Americans and I would be honored to have them as my neighbors! We are one in Christ. On the outside I may look like a white person, but inside - I am a dirty, filthy rotten sinner, blessed to be washed in the blood of the Lamb and made new in Christ.

Eric, I think you're spot-on. The other thing I'll say is that whites (and I'm as prone to this as anyone) tend to have a paternalistic attitude toward blacks. If we want to work with and for our black brothers in the faith, then we need to be willing to get dirty, go and get involved in their neighbourhoods. And this means moving out of comfortable suburbia.

Philip, I agree with you, and more and more I am exploring what our call is in this area. Not just in reaching to black churches, but to the inner city and the forgotten of society. We may not need to move (though it is possible God may call some of us to do this), but we can certainly reach out. I work as a street photographer in downtown and inner city Denver. As such, I meet many of the less fortunate of society and have many opportunities to share the gospel with them and to help connect them with resources. In my city, there is a sad lack of faithful churches in the inner city, which prompted me to explore options and put together a resource list. The painful realization that to my best knowledge, there are no faithful downtown churches to plug folks into is heartbreaking.

I did find one church that has an outreach that helps people from more suburban congregations connect with those of the inner city. I would encourage you to explore options in your city. Perhaps there is an existing, Biblically faithful outreach you could partner with? The need is great, the harvest is ripe and the laborers are few.

It seems to me that as the church, we should be reaching out to those struggling and in impoverished areas far more than we are...just my opinion.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
Eric, I think you're spot-on. The other thing I'll say is that whites (and I'm as prone to this as anyone) tend to have a paternalistic attitude toward blacks. If we want to work with and for our black brothers in the faith, then we need to be willing to get dirty, go and get involved in their neighbourhoods. And this means moving out of comfortable suburbia.

How is one able to avoid some form of paternalism while maintaining that there is right conduct and wrong conduct and that one can know the difference? Whenever anyone is being discipled one cannot avoid paternalism.

CT
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
How is one able to avoid some form of paternalism while maintaining that there is right conduct and wrong conduct and that one can know the difference?

By being humble enough to realize that one's own way may not be entirely right and by going as much to learn as to teach.
 

ChristianTrader

Puritan Board Graduate
But the issue then is not paternalism. It is about disagreeing about various things.

Not necessarily. It may be about differing ways of doing things, which have no right or wrong answers.

Such a statement only avoids begging the question after it has been established that this area has no right or wrong answers, only equally good differing approaches.

If there is not disagreement, then why the warning concerning paternalism?

CT
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
Such a statement only avoids begging the question after it has been established that this area has no right or wrong answers, only equally good differing approaches.

Did I say equally good? Just because there isn't one right or wrong answer doesn't mean that anything goes---Paternalism here means the attitude that I'm the mighty whitey with all the answers to all the problems that you created (conservatism) or else I'm the mighty whitey who is responsible for all your problems and therefore I have an obligation to help and get you out of the mess. In both cases the assumption is that I know better and I'm the grownup here.

This is what we have to avoid: this attitude of superiority that says that we have all the answers and refuses to see the real resources that black communities have and utilize them. The fact is that white Christians have as much (or more) to learn from black Christians as blacks do from whites. I wouldn't mind seeing less flash and more soul in our worship; I wouldn't mind hearing call and response styles of preaching in our churches; until we let go of our attitudes of superiority, we will hurt both those we seek to help and ourselves.
 

Mushroom

Puritan Board Doctor
I don't know if you'd call it paternalism, but one thing that bugs me is when white folks will change their language when addressing a brother of African descent from the standard "Hello, how are you?" to "Hey Man! What's happ'nin'?" silliness. Seems condescending to me, and makes me feel bad for brothers and sisters very dear to me. Maybe I'm just uptight. Maybe they're just trying to make them feel welcome.
 

Unoriginalname

Puritan Board Junior
I don't know if you'd call it paternalism, but one thing that bugs me is when white folks will change their language when addressing a brother of African descent from the standard "Hello, how are you?" to "Hey Man! What's happ'nin'?" silliness. Seems condescending to me, and makes me feel bad for brothers and sisters very dear to me. Maybe I'm just uptight. Maybe they're just trying to make them feel welcome.
I also find that disturbing.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
. If we want to work with and for our black brothers in the faith, then we need to be willing to get dirty, go and get involved in their neighbourhoods. And this means moving out of comfortable suburbia.

I flinched when I read that comment. Why wouldn't you reach out to the Blacks in 'comfortable suburbia'? They'd be the most likely prospects for our largely middle class Presbyterian churches. And what does 'getting involved' look like? Is it making a difference, or just creating 'rice Christians'?

And not specifically directed at you, but a general comment. What is the goal? Getting more diversity into existing churches, or planting monocultural churches in other areas? (As is suggested in the original post.)
 

Philip

Puritan Board Graduate
I also find it disturbing we still feel the need to categorize people by unbiblical racial categories.

I once tried this---and then my black friends got offended. You're right that these categories spring from the modernistic rejection of Biblical anthropology---but race and racial issues are a reality. It does us no good to fail to recognize that society is structured this way and that there are cultural differences between white and black.

Why wouldn't you reach out to the Blacks in 'comfortable suburbia'?

By all means---if your comfortable suburbia has a significant black population, then by all means do so. However, this isn't generally the case, I find.

nd not specifically directed at you, but a general comment. What is the goal? Getting more diversity into existing churches, or planting monocultural churches in other areas? (As is suggested in the original post.)

I think the goal should be to have more reformed folks of colour (and, really, in general). To a certain degree, churches should reflect the neighbourhoods where they are located.
 

Edward

Puritanboard Commissioner
I think the goal should be to have more reformed folks of colour (and, really, in general). To a certain degree, churches should reflect the neighbourhoods where they are located.

The 1000 member Presbyterian church at the end of the block is Korean.
 
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