The picture is mixed and there are many challenges. The church needs spiritual revival. But reviving and strengthening the Black Church will require great wisdom and courage.
Reviving the Black Church calls us back to another time, borrowing the wisdom of earlier faithful Christians. But more importantly, it calls us back to the Bible itself. For there we find the divine wisdom needed to see all quarters of the Black Church live again, thriving in the Spirit of God.
It’s pastor and church planter Thabiti Anyabwile’s humble prayer that this book might be useful to pastors and faithful lay members in reviving at least some quarters of the Black Church, and churches of every ethnicity and context— all for the glory of God.
Earlier this month we gathered in Orlando, Florida, for The Gospel Coalition 2015 National Conference, titled “Coming Home: New Heaven and New Earth.” More than 6,000 from 50 states and 50 countries came together to consider the theme of our eternal home. In addition to our conference attendees, more than 26,000 joined us through livestream from all 50 states and 137 different countries. Four live translations conveyed the conference message in Spanish, Portuguese, French, and Mandarin. Now all TGC15 media—9 main plenary sessions and more than 50 workshops—are available online. All of this content is free, and we encourage you to share it. You can also browse the conference photo gallery…
I am no politician or elected official. I’ve been around public policy enough to know that it’s no cure-all. I’m not misplacing my hope. I have no sense that doing these things will fix everything or usher in the kingdom of God.
But this I do know: There is no way people of good conscience or people of Christian faith can look at the events in Ferguson and conclude there’s nothing left for us to do or nothing that can be done. No, both pure religion and good citizenship require we not settle for what’s happened in the shooting of Michael Brown and the aftermath of the grand jury’s decision. The Ferguson grand jury has given us our marching orders. They have ordered us to march for a more just system of policing and the protection of all life. We are obligated–if we love Christ or love this country–to find a way forward to justice, a way suitable to the dictates of our individual consciences and the word of God. Perhaps you don’t agree with my feeble recommendations above. Great! That’s freedom in action. Now propose something better and let’s get to work.
In the end, the best lesson my children can learn from Ferguson is not that they need to be on the lookout for white cops. It is far more important that I use this teachable moment to remind them that “God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap” (Gal. 6:7). Moments before his death, Michael Brown had violently robbed a man in a store. A man doing the best he could to make a living. Minutes later, Brown reaped what he sowed, and was gunned down in the street. That is the sad truth.
My sons have far more to fear from making bad choices than they have to fear from the police. The overwhelming majority of police officers are decent people just trying to make a living. They are much more likely to help you than to harm you. A life of thuggery, however, is NEVER your friend. In the end, it will cost you . . . sometimes, it costs you everything.
Voddie Baucham posted his thoughts on the Gospel Coalition blog, and while many have linked to his thoughts, it seems to me that most who have interacted or evaluated have either misunderstood or misrepresented his statements. It’s fairly obvious that most have read Baucham’s remarks through their own personal tinted goggles, so maybe I have also. But I’ll tell you what I think anyway, because if I’m reading him correctly, he has said some genuinely wonderful things.
I’ve toyed around with the idea of starting a blog called “Coming (Back) to America.” I daydreamed about writing lots of posts full of Bill Bryson-style insight and humor about what America is like (or I’m like) after eight years in another culture. Alas… I’m not that creative or observant. So rather than a blog, I’ll try my hand at a couple of posts sprinkled here and there.
The post are helpful in giving an outsiders look into our culture (for those of us in America):
In his most recent post in this series he explains his one fear, which is related to the situation in Ferguson:
When my wife and I announced we would be moving back to the States to plant a church in Southeast DC, we met three reactions. People who loved us over these past eight years and appreciated our ministry expressed their love and sadness that we were leaving Cayman. Those same people and many others then quickly sent us tremendous amounts of encouragement, prayer and practical help. Then there were those who had a question. They asked, “Are you afraid?” or “Do you have any fears?”
My elders in Cayman asked that question. The elders here at CHBC asked that question. A few individuals asked that question. And some people have worn their concern on their faces.
When asked the question, I’d usually pause. Not because I didn’t have an answer, but because some fears feel too real when you give them words. So I’d pause. Then I’d say two things: “Truthfully, the Lord has kept us from any fears that we can discern about planting the church or living in Southeast. If I have a fear it would be one thing: bringing my son Titus to the United States. He’s so tender and innocent and the States can be very hard on Black boys.”
That’s my one fear. This country destroying my boy. Ferguson is my fear. I could be the black dad approaching a white sheet stained with his son’s blood. I could be the husband holding his wife, rocking in anguish, terrorized by the ‘what happeneds’ and the ‘how could theys,’ unable to console his wife, his wife who works so hard to make her son a “momma’s boy” with too many hugs, bedtime stories, presents for nothing, and an overflowing delight in everything he does. How do you comfort a woman who feels like a part of her soul was ripped out her chest?
Yesterday, he went on to continue the above post with a call to action:
…you don’t answer oppression, violence, poverty, sexism, corporate theft and a host of other problems with theology alone. Theology alone is not an answer. Nor are vague appeals to the gospel, however true it is that the gospel is our first, only and greatest hope. Action and policy guided by sound theology are answers. When Paul wrote to Philemon on behalf of the enslaved Onesimus, he reminded Philemon of the gospel and the duty of Christian love. Then in love he told Philemon to take an action consistent with that theology: release Onesimus and receive him as a brother. Evangelicalism is long on theology (gospel) and short on ethics (loving action)…
Nevertheless, most of what’s been said by evangelical leaders thus far (including my post yesterday) has been a general lament. It’s been the expressing of sentiment. There were similar reactions to a similar post I wrote following the Zimmerman verdict. However, there’s not yet been anything that looks like a groundswell of evangelical call for action, for theology applied to injustice. It’s possible that I’ve missed a call for action from my colleagues and peers in the evangelical world. But I don’t think I’ve missed our most influential leaders with the widest reach. They’ve been silent en masse. Today I think we need to be pushed a couple steps ahead.
Predictably, I’ve received a bit of pushback on my post yesterday calling for leaders of the evangelical movement to organize themselves to provide theological and practical leadership on issues that affect the marginalized and oppressed. Why such a call should ever receive pushback is itself worth pondering, but I want to focus on the chief reason stated for the pushback.
It’s essentially this: “We should not pass judgment on Wilson until we have all the facts.” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard that in the last couple of days, I’d at least be able to satisfy someone’s Starbucks habit for a week.
I wish it wasn’t so, but Christians are some cantankerous, fighting people. At least I am. I’ve stopped pretending I’m not. I don’t mind a good fight, though I’m learning to not start them–unless they need to be started…
In a time when many evangelicals feel as if the sky is falling and the culture is lost, it might be good for us all to step back, swear off controversy for a while, and determine what really matters most. I can see now that a lot of what I thought was dire was really the angst of someone else who loved controversy and felt like they were on “the losing side.” It wasn’t really my hill, but I borrowed it unawares. And when you step back from some hills you discover that they’re not really that big or they’re not really that significant. You ask yourself, “Really? You’re going to die on that hill?”
Before I die on a hill, I’m now committed to making sure it’s my hill, too. I don’t want to be the equivalent to those anonymous U.N. peacekeeping forces that get sent everywhere to fight every battle. While there’s real value in their role, there’s also real tragedy in fighting the battle of others who could or perhaps should fight those battles themselves. Give me a few well-chosen hills on which to die–or win. If I’m going down, I’d rather be the 54th Regiment of Massachusetts charging Fort Wagner in a war that means everything for me and His Kingdom.
I think I first heard Kevin DeYoung and John Piper ask and answer that question. They both concluded “no.” I think I agree with them. There is no direct relationship between the effectiveness of the church and the broader unbelieving culture.
Yet, it seems most Christians tend to assume a relationship. If the church was doing _____ then the culture wouldn’t ______. Because the church is weak in _____ the society is experiencing ______.
Many Christians too readily draw these kinds of conclusions. I think it’s well-intended. What Christian doesn’t want to see the church have a lasting positive impact on their society?
But I’m concerned that this thinking, especially among preachers and pastors, might be contributing to some unhealthiness in the church. I don’t know if I’m right about this, so you all chime in with your perspective…
The Christian is the most contented man in the world, but he is the least contented with the world. He is like a traveler in an inn, perfectly satisfied with the inn and its accommodation, considering it as an inn, but putting quite out of all consideration the idea of making it his home.
Rick Phillips and Thabiti Anyabwile recently teamed up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, to address the theme of contentment in the Christian life at Clarus ’14. Attended by 700 from across the region, Clarus is TGC’s Southwest Regional Conference hosted by Desert Springs Church in partnership with TGC Albuquerque. Click here for photos from this year’s conference, here for songs we sang together, and here to download the song “My Father Planned it All.” This is an old text to a new tune recorded live at this year’s conference and a great match for this year’s theme.
“Contentment Consummated: The New Heaven and New Earth” – Revelation 21:1-22:6 (audio, blog recap)
“Contentment with Our Possessions” – 1 Timothy 6:3-10 (audio, blog recap)
“Contentment through Communion with Christ” – 1 John 2:28-3:3 (audio, blog recap)
“Contentment with Christ’s Body, the Church” – 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 (audio, blog recap)
In [MAY 19,] 2013 Thabiti Anyabwile went to Dubai to debate a Muslim apologist [Shabir Ally]. The complete video is available here:
Dubai’s 5th Biennial Muslim-Christian Dialogue on May 19, 2013 welcomed over 700 participants in person and hundreds more from at least eight different countries via live stream. This 3 hour event landmark event included persuasive presentations, engrossing dialogue, and unscripted questions and answers with the audience. It’s sure to encourage deeper reflection by individuals of any religious background and prompt bridge-building discussions between Muslims and Christians engaged in conversation about their faith.
The speakers were Shabir Ally and Thabiti Anyabwile.
For more information and to order the entire dialogue on DVD, visit muslimchristiandialogue.org.
Part 1 of 8: Intro – Dialogue in the Middle East – 2013 Dialogue:
Part 2 of 8: Thabiti’s Opening Address – 2013 Dialogue:
Part 3 of 8: Shabir’s Opening Address – 2013 Dialogue:
Part 4 of 8: Speaker’s Responses – 2013 Dialogue:
Part 5 of 8: Speakers’ Q & A Together – 2013 Dialogue:
Part 6 of 8: Audience Q & A – Pt 1 – 2013 Dialogue:
Part 7 of 8: Audience Q & A – Pt 2 – 2013 Dialogue:
Part 8 of 8: Summations & Parting Words – 2013 Dialogue:
And so we look in wonder at the greatest abandonment ever, when God the Father abandoned God the Son on Calvary’s cross. When we consider the separation of Father and Son at Calvary, we stare into the deep mystery and meaning of cross and resurrection. But the Father’s abandonment of Jesus leads to the sinner’s adoption. God abandons one perfect Son in order to adopt millions of sinful sons. It’s the only abandonment with any honor and redemption.
Yesterday my family and I announced the most difficult and emotional decision we’ve ever made in Christian ministry. We shared with the spiritual family and congregation we love our plans to transition from FBC Grand Cayman to return stateside to plant a church East of the River in Washington, D.C.
He then shared his comments to his congregation:
…The apostle Paul once wondered about what would happen to his fellow Jewish community which did not yet believe the gospel. He writes: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel.” He says: “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved” (Rom. 9:2-3; 10:1).
Over the last two years, something like that has become an increasing burden for me. Great sorrow. Unceasing anguish. A heart’s desire to see my “kinsmen according to the flesh”—the greater African-American community—come into the glory of God’s salvation—especially those in the forgotten and forsaken cities of the country.
About ten months ago, I began to talk with the elders about what was then a feeling…
I have decided to transition from FBC to pursue this exciting and difficult ministry for the glory of Jesus Christ and the salvation of many in African-American communities. Effective June 30th I will transition from my role here as senior pastor. In early July, we hope to move back to Washington, D.C. where we will, Lord willing and pending an official call, land at Capitol Hill Baptist Church as members and as church planters. From there we hope to launch a new church in a part of the city commonly called “East of the River.”
The series was published by Reformation Heritage Books and Joel R. Beeke and Michael A.G. Haykin are the series editors.
The Profiles in Reformed Spirituality series is designed to introduce the spirituality and piety of the Reformed tradition by presenting descriptions of the lives of influential Christians with select passages from their works. This combination of biographical sketches and primary sources gives a taste of each subject’s contribution to the Reformed tradition’s spiritual heritage and direction as to how the reader can find further edification through their works. This series will provide riches where the church is poor and daylight where Christians stumble in the night. Included in Profiles in Reformed Spirituality (10 vols.) are the lives and works of Horatius Bonar, Hercules Collins, Jonathan Edwards, George Swinnock, Alexander Whyte, Lemuel Haynes, Samuel Rutherford, Archibald Alexander, John Bunyan, and John Flavel.
In the Logos editions, these valuable volumes are enhanced by amazing functionality. Scripture citations link directly to English translations, and important terms link to dictionaries, encyclopedias, and a wealth of other resources in your digital library. Perform powerful searches to find exactly what you’re looking for. Take the discussion with you using tablet and mobile apps. With Logos Bible Software, the most efficient and comprehensive research tools are in one place, so you get the most out of your study.
The Bible implores us to take a long look at Jesus, forcefully beckoning us to “come and see” through profound questions connected with Jesus’ death and resurrection. These questions drive us to consider not just the events themselves but also their meaning as we take a long look beneath the surface and find more of the never-ending treasures of Christ. In Captivated, Thabiti Anyabwile invites you to set aside your early lessons on politeness and stare (yes, do stare) into the mystery of the cross and empty tomb.