Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Black Church Is Dead ~ A Response To Eddie Glaude Jr. Ph.D.

The Needs Of The Black Community
The Needs Of The Black Church

In an article entitled 'The Black Church Is Dead', Dr. Eddie Glaude Jr., the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and chair of the Center for African American Studies at Princeton University, proclaimed that the black church, although yet well attended, has lost it's ability to speak to and shape the social and moral conscious of the community in which it has primarily and traditionally existed. Dr. Glaude Jr. suggested, in part, that this mortification is due to the increasing sophistication and mobility of individuals within the church's traditional target audience and the lack of what he calls the church's prophetic vision for the community.

The church must admit that it is competing for the time and the attention of its target audience like never before. There are various sources of information and those sources have their own vision and agenda for the community and sometimes special interests which cannot be overlooked. I would like to point out however, that if the influence of the black church is dead, that death has occurred because of what the church has both allowed, promoted and refused to commit itself to.

Interestingly, before the most recent economic recession took hold, many churches were expanding and experiencing almost unprecedented growth in both attendance and profitability. At the same time the community was suffering from a seeming total breakdown of the economic welfare of both individuals and families within the proximal locations in which many churches existed. The black community faced and yet faces record unemployment, increased violence and violent activities within many neighborhoods. There was and yet is a failed educational process leading to the under-education of our children, a broken penile system leading to higher than normal incarceration rates in many traditionally black communities where these churches operate.

Currently there is a growing wave of moral dilemmas, which that black church hasn't overwhelmingly addressed or embraced as a challenge. Identifiably, there is a rise in single parent and non traditional family structures, increased homosexuality and homosexual activity, abortion, teenage sexual promiscuity, STD's, AIDS/HIV infections, child molestation, and clergy sexual misconduct (CSM) which are some of the more important moral, health and social issues that, by and large, have effected the black community. The absence of the church in addressing many of the aforementioned matters with any consistency is notable. This has facilitated the floodgate of trouble that is currently witnessed and experienced by individuals living within the black community.

Unfortunately, many leaders feel that to address these sort of issues is a 'death blow' to their influence and strategic growth of the church, but quite the contrary is true. To avoid these issues creates a stigma with a more far reaching and much more devastating side-effect. When individuals feel that their pain is prostituted for the sake of church popularity, they will look elsewhere for more sincere and more deeply impacting answers for their personal situations and dilemmas.

Many times leadership has blurred the focus by placing profits, social connections, political agendas and relationships above the duty of ministering to the holistic needs of the community in which these churches exist. We have reduced true service to charisma, personality and the ability to attract crowds. We have allowed the church to be used for political grandstanding, and the promotion of media sales and activity. Overwhelmingly, ministry has placed a greater emphasis on the acquisition of grandiose homes and amenities than addressing and solving the intricate problems that we face.

These problems must be addressed through a simple reversion to a biblically centered standard of life, ministry and community. The concern of the church must be relevant to the community it serves. The basic needs of man are essentially the same. As it pertains to their church, most individuals want to know that it (the church) has their back and best interest at heart without pretense, and that it is willing to avail itself for the benefit of the whole community and not just for the growth, preservation and popularity of a few nor for the expansion of its own kingdom.

The self interest of the church must be replaced by a true interest of the community. The priority of the church must revert from the creation of a political network to the creation of a sustainable, biblically centered agenda that brings benefits, relief and direction to all them that will hear, follow, and yield themselves to it. That can only be done by building trust through a ground up experience. It takes time, effort and a great commitment to be a resource to those who otherwise would not engage with the church. But the fruit and joy of a committed church far exceeds the temporary gain associated with politically correct subject matter, agenda and self serving associations.

The sophistication and mobility of individuals that have traditionally been a part of the black church is not the cause of the black church's declining influence. The disconnect between what the community needs and what the church desires to accomplish or establish are sometimes two varying and in some cases opposing propositions.When individuals are left unprotected they will be influenced by others to whom they feel a sense of connectivity. Church leadership owes it to God and the community to become sensitive, constructive and vocal in solving the needs of those within the community. There are a great wealth of souls willing to recommit themselves to the direction of the black church, but that direction must be relative and pertinent to current situations and must, without fear, address the problems of the community that it has traditionally served.

Pastor Harvey Burnett


  1. Another thing that Dr. Glaude does that I didn't address in the article, is that he claims that the "prophetic voice" of the church is its ability to fight for causes such as homosexual marriage and health-care. He feels that the church should lend its advocacy to issues such as anything that effects a few he feels the church should advocate or fight for...

    Now, in order to understand his commentary regarding such, you have to also know, as he has stated, that he does not attend ANY church. He's not committed to the church to begin with. So as an arm chair QB he sits in judgement of what the church should be doing based on what sounds right to him...

    This is why I feel addressing Dr. Glaude is important. his position gives him some credibility, but in essence and in fact he really has none or at best very little in dealing with both the people and the church.

  2. The church was never called to fight for any cause. The church is for the purpose of God, not man. This man is not saved and does not believe the Word of God, so he will think like the world. 1 John 4: 5-6 (NIV) states, “5They are from the world and therefore speak from the viewpoint of the world, and the world listens to them. 6We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit of truth and the spirit of falsehood”. Keep pressing the battle to the gate, the true saints of God are listening and obeying His voice~


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