Reflections on The Black Church!

Pastor Stephen F. Smith gives this powerful summary on the importance, the relevance, and the history of The Black Church!
www.stephenfsmith.org
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www.preachstephen.com

Lessons in Whooping

Since I am not a Whooper, I will listen to Rev. Robert Smith’s lessons in Whooping! For those of you who don’t know, Whooping(The Rhythmic Preaching Style of Many Black Preachers) has been an institution in many Black Churches since the days of slavery!

Commercial Appeal Article on Black Preaching Styles

The Commercial Appeal, which is the daily newpaper in Memphis,Tennessee, did an article on Black Preaching Styles in wake of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Furor! I have included an excerpt from the article and a web link where the entire article may be read. Hats off to Lindsay Melvin who was bold enough to write this arrticle!

Wright’s Remarks ‘Ugly Truth’

Minister’s Preaching Style Common in Black Churches

By Linday Melvin 

Nearly three hours into the electrifying Sunday service at Christ Missionary Baptist Church, Pastor Gina Stewart was damp with perspiration.Crammed pews of parishioners were winding down after being taken through a vigorous torrent of jubilation, anger and praise.

But the South Memphis pastor wasn’t done yet.

There was a more earthly issue eating at her — the recent coverage of racially charged remarks made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago, longtime pastor of presidential candidate Barack Obama.

There was a more earthly issue eating at her — the recent coverage of racially charged remarks made by Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago, longtime pastor of presidential candidate Barack Obama.

“I am a CNN junkie,” Stewart said to the overwhelmingly black congregation. But she warned them not to put too much stock in the news media’s negative portrayal of the now-retired pastor’s sermons or hold those statements against Obama.Stewart’s sentiments are being echoed in churches across Memphis as local pastors are saying that Wright’s remarks were taken out of context with little understanding for the long tradition of prophetic preaching that goes on in black churches.

“The African-American church has always had a prophetic ministry and prophetic preaching style,” said Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church senior pastor Frank Thomas, who was ordained by Wright in 1982 before coming to the large Memphis church.

Prophetic preaching, or speaking of social injustice to mobilize people for change, is Wright’s preaching style and it was also Dr. Martin Luther King’s, Thomas said.

“The difference is the amount of rage that is being publicly performed.”

Pastor Brandon B. Porter said

Because black people have a history of being oppressed and his congregation is mostly black, Porter says he occasionally speaks to that.

“If you have a predominantly black church you have to deal with black issues,” he said.

Read The Rest of This Article

The Black Church

I couldn’t have predicted the response that I received after I posted a comment on the Black Church. The term Black Church has been used to describe the African American Church, which is the most revered institution in the black community. It is indeed quite sad that anyone would have to call his or her church a black church, or a white church.

I will proudly submit to you that the God of the Bible transcends color, and either God is Lord of All Born-Again Believers that follow his precepts, his ways and his word, or he is not Lord at all. The scriptures state that God is not a respecter of persons, so that would mean that God would not be enamored by the race or ethnicity of any believer. Yet, it is still surprising to me that to just mention the term black church causes such an uproar.

I am the descendant of a people that were brought to this nation in the hulls of slave ships. I am not asking for an apology from anyone, but I am asking many of you that come to this blog and others to consider the following point of view. We shouldn’t have to call a church a Black church.

However; one would be remiss to not note that there has not been widespread reconciliation in our houses of worship. The African American People are less than 7 generations up from being banned from reading, writing, and even worshipping God.

While American pulpits and choirstands have proclaimed that God is love for hundreds of years, systemic and institutional racism has prevailed in our nation and even in our churches. While the slaveowners studied the Holy Writ, they brutally assaulted many of the initial African American slaves. Where there prayer meetings before lynchings? Why was the mainstream church silent for so long on such a horrible practice as slavery? The Black Church was basically all that people of color possessed.

Blacks had been lingering at the bottom of the American social caste chart for years. One of the commandments of Jesus was to love one’s neighbor as one would love himself. Is it a sin for an African American to savor the fragrance of an African American Worship Service? I submit to you that it is not a sin for one to enjoy his or her church’s flavor of worship.

Our church has had a proud legacy, and I am not ashamed about loving the ambiance of The Black Church. There have been many efforts to integrate churches throughout our land, yet 11 AM on Sunday Mornings is still the most segregated hour on the clock.

If one would pay attention to our television ministries and our megachurches, there are many preachers of other races that pastor or oversee thousands of members of color. Yet, this is not true in the inverse. If one would follow all of the major African American ministries in our land that have black pastors, one would not find an overwhelming “percentage” of other races in the congregation. This is why there has been a so called black church.

Our modes of worship are different and that is not a discredit to any race. Are we really committed to reconciliation in our houses of worship? There was a previous pastor of a large mainstream church in Memphis,Tennessee that once stated-I can’t wait to get to heaven, so I can go on the Negro side of heaven and hear one of those great Negro spirituals. Will there be subdivisions in heaven? Was he reciting what others secretly believe?

Prayerfully, the houses of worship in our land will learn to work together on common ground. We are all aspiring to make it to a place called heaven where there will be no segregation, busing, or separations by ethnicities. One could surmise that racism has sometimes even crept into the House of Grace.

The enemy must love to see the church separated by lines of color. Let’s eradicate this problem. If we ever plan on seeing the Christ that we all preach about, we had better get started!

Respectfully Submitted,

Pastor Stephen F. Smith

Sure House Church, Inc.

Megachurches in America?

I am amazed at the level of attacks that are directed at our nation’s Christian megachurches. Ironically, the churches that are having the largest growth in our land are our nation’s megachurches. America’s megachurches are rapidly growing. Yet surprisingly, few of these churches appeals to the ranks of traditional theologians and religious scholars of our land. However; these churches are experiencing incredible growth.

We will observe the megachurch’s dynamics that seems to draw criticism from those who are accustomed to worshipping in traditional settings and from those who are used to worshipping in smaller church settings. The Megachurch Movement in America has garnered many opponents. Big Box Religion has had it’s share of critics. The average church in America has a normal attendance of about 60 people each week, but some of the megachurches in our country are now seeing between 20,000 to 30,000 people each week. This type of growth has gained the megachurch movement in our nation a growing list of detractors. These detractors state that these churches focus on attendance by preaching compromising messages, by dumbing down their flocks, and focusing on money too much.

I am a product of a megachurch and I will admit that this scale of ministry has many challenges. The sheer size of these churches makes it virtually impossible for the pastor to know the lion’s share of his membership personally. That is one of the drawbacks to tremendous growth in a church. However, I don’t agree that every megachurch in our land has achieved it’s rapid growth through the preaching of “cotton candy”. Many of the megachurches of our land are churches that adhere to and promote adherence to the Word of God. Should we attack rapid growth in a church? If the scriptures declare that God wants his house to be full, Why are our religious scholars, theologians, and even some of our nation’s religious leaders attacking those who are successfully fulfilling their kingdom mandates? Rapid growth in a church can sometimes come from a congregation that is so excited about the Word of God that they are inviting everyone that they know or meet to their churches. Most of the megachurches in America have many successful outreach programs. Many of these churches use many out of the box outreach programs that seem to nettle those who belong to the traditional church world. Church as usual has achieved some of the adverse growth in the traditional churches of our land.

I am highly cognizant that there are some megachurches that are preaching and teaching questionable things, yet I don’t believe that just because a church is experiencing growth that somehow that church is not holding up the standard of Christianity. Could the competive jealousies of some pastors who pastor smaller churches lead to some of the wild yet unproven accusations that every megachurch seems to have? You know the ones like to join that church you need to first submit a copy of your W-2, or the great they only care about your money and you are just a number at that church. The beauty and barber shops of our land are all full of individuals who know what’s wrong at the megachurch down the street or across town. Many of the preachers of our land hear these wild allegations and know them not to be true, but just can’t seem to muster the strength to defend that brother’s church down the street, that is experiencing rapid growth. God has not called every church to be a megachurch, yet that is not a reason for the ranks of the church world to attack the megachurches of our land.

There are enough people who are lost in sin to fill up most of the churches of our land. It’s true that a megachurch pastor probably can’t eat Sunday dinner with his parishoners like many other pastors can. Should this make them the object of scorn? A megachurch’s pastor deals with an onslaught of problems and stress on a weekly basis. Their kids are subject to scorn. Their spouses are expected to live up to the often unreal expectations of the masses. They soon find out that their job is not all peaches and cream by the sheer barrage of lies that are told on them by not only the world, but also those of the church.

There are some traditional churches that are experiencing rapid growth. Our surburban areas seem to attract many traditional churches who then experience rapid church growth. Being the first church in a rapidly growing surburban area, will sometimes lead to rapid church growth. I strongly believe that most of our nation’s newest megachurches are coming from either pentecostal settings or from our nation’s African American Churches. The Barna Report, a survey done by a popular Christian customer research firm, will bear this assumption out. Each of these two types of churches are attacked for being too emotional. Is their rapid growth attributed to their lack of three points and a poem sermons? What modes and methods can we learn from these churches? The megachurch pastor will be a target for those who claim that it is their mission to battle apostasy.

Why are the pastors of megachurches under so much attack? I would submit with their larger budgets, larger choirs, larger parking lots, and larger church offices there are often individuals who can’t understand the sheer level of attack that they are under. Although their churches take up large amounts of money, they also have to pay out huge amounts of money for adequate structures, staffs, and upkeep. Should we state that just because a church is growing that a church must be letting down the standard, or that a church is simply growing because they are only attracting those with itching ears? Our churches’ mission is to grow. God hasn’t promised us that every church will be a megachurch. There are thousands of pastors, who are great men, that are laboring in small churches everyday. Should we see these individuals as the only ones that have it right? Some of our nation’s megachurch pastors have it right also! If time is indeed winding up, and if the clarion call of the hour is Holiness or Hell, then why are so many in the American church world opposing the growth of some of the Christian megachurches in our land?

Pastor Stephen F. Smith

Sure House Church, Inc.