Wednesday, July 1, 2009

How can I get black people to come to my church? pt.2

Where possible, invite some black Christians to your church to evaluate your service.

Even if you have to reach out to a black church that you have no relationship with, explain to them that you are desirous to reach the community for the purpose of having a church that reflects more the kingdom of God than it does currently. Ask if they would be willing to let a handful of members attend your service and give feed back on what would hinder black people from coming back.

This is a bold move! But the payout could be enormous! This accomplishes a couple of things. It sends a loud statement to the people of that church that you are serious and sincere (unless they get suspicious that you are sheep stealing). It can give you a good rapport with them and could lead to possibly a partnership in the gospel that consists of reaching the black community. It communicates to your church that you are indeed serious and it gives you time to prepare them for greeting black folks as they come. It allows you to evaluate seriously how your church responds to the reality of another culture coming to fellowship with them.

Be Genuine. It's okay to just "be white" around black people

Sometimes white people think they have to "relate" to black people in order to make them feel welcome. This is not necessarily true. I have seen so many non-black folks change their whole swagger so that they can be accepted by the black people they are "relating to." WRONG! Be yourself. It is okay if you don't know the proper "black" handshake or can't relate to something that is described in such a way that you feel like you should be able to. Ask questions like, what does that mean that you just said? Expose your ignorance don't try to hide it. If you are genuine black people will pick up on that and actually respect you for it.

Pray for direction

This could always be first on my list and is another one of those "duh" statements but it is in fact true that many who pursue such things as this can have desire without direction. Ultimately the Lord is going to lead you in the endeavor.

When possible use illustrations that can highlight the reality of and your disdain for racism

My Senior pastor John Loftness does this very well. He, being a white man, will often use illustrations or read stories that highlight the reality of this racial barrier's existence and denounce it. It is a subtle way to train your church but also if on a particular Sunday black people are there they will pick up on that if its genuine.

If there are already a few black people in your church they need to play a role here.

My church has had a recent flux of black folks coming to our church. We haven't even targeted them but on our website www.solidrockchurch.net they can see that two out of the three pastors are black. If this exists in your church, make sure there are pictures on your website that indicate that. Black people don't like being vastly outnumbered by white people especially when they are the only black people there, it can be a challenge.

None of these things are ground breaking or novel but they are a good step in the right direction. I wish I could say just do this, this and this and WALA black people will show up in droves. It requires faith and diligence with patience as the backdrop. If it is the will of the Lord then you will accomplish that no matter what obstacles present themselves.

Lastly a few bullet points that will be a struggles for most black people, not all but most.

Worship style will be a challenge. Black people are really drawn to music. Unfortunately many of us are in churches where the theology is horrible but the worship is right. Your white band will have a rhythm that will be a sacrifice to a lot black people to overcome.

Homeschool and the expectation of biblical womanhood may be a challenge. Sometimes these values assume a particular family structure and that may not be the case with some black families coming into your church. A single mom may come in with two kids. If all she hears is homeschool this and moms should be home that she wont likely stay. While we would say that's not the only way to honor God we sure can emphasize it, however subtle.

Theology may be a challenge. Depending on your church, this could be a paradigm shift in the way black folks experience church. We tend to be more feeling and whites tend to be more intellectual. Not saying that whites don't feel and blacks don't think but it is different. The racial history of this nation has left black people with a more "God wants to bless you" theology. "Reparations theology" if you will, pivots off of oppression and promises of love and blessings. The negative effect of this that you can have people thinking that God loves them and forgives them solely because of the horrific racism that black people have gone through. It can be very emotional particularly when songs highlight God's love or nearness. Sadly, this doesn't always translate to living. Reformed theology is a thinking man's faith. It is weighty and though not necessary, extremely beneficial to read and study. This could be a challenge.

Over greeting could be a challenge. You definitely want to greet but if you have the whole staff plus their moms and their cousins surrounding black folks they may think you are a cult! Don't send the whole kitchen sink at them and don't send only the black people to greet them. If possible the senior guy or whoever preached that Sunday get to them and say hello and greet them as well.

Your churches culture will be a challenge. I know in Sovereign Grace churches there is a certain way people can talk and outside of the bubble of our churches it would seem strange. If a group of people all sound the same, look the same when greeting and talking to black guests or those considering joining, it could be a challenge.

I will spare you any more thoughts as there as actually people who have thought through these things far better than I have. If you meet them I am sure they can offer you a better perspective than I have. Either way I hope this serves any who took the time to read and is desirous of this pursuit. To God alone be glory!

4 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this post, it is really practical and helpful! You mention that there are others who have tried to answer this question as well. Can you recommend any books or do you have links to more writing online on this topic?

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  2. Another great article. This goes well with part 1. ~Black young Christian.

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  3. I just read both of your articles that I found through Facebook and found them to be very inspirational. Though I may not be trying to reach a different culture, it was revealed to me that I should be open and receptive to others and their way of worshipping the Lord. Continue to bless others through your blog posts!

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  4. I stumbles across your blog by accident i have to admit, certain parts i can't say i agree with, but as a whole i thought you hit some very very good points! i'm african american and i've been a worship leader in mostly "white" churches and the worship as well as usually being the only "black man" in the church... has always been a HUGE challenge for me. i don't usually make a big deal of it.. but I have to admit it has always lead to a great deal of frustration for me in the sense that most churches i have attended will want a multi-cultural type of church, but i realize over time that is in fact actually not what is wanted... what is wanted is a multi-colored church. big difference. I've always hoped and prayed about being part of a Multi-cultural church family... but in the area where i live.. ( northern california ) it's extremely, extremely rare... kind of weird seeing how California is one of the more culturally diverse states.

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