I recommend a book that has potential to help us as we seek to “Offer Them Christ.” The book is “High Impact African American Churches: Leadership Concepts From Some of Today’s Most Effective Churches,” by George Barna and Harry R. Jackson, Jr.
I realize the temptation for many will be to see this title as directed toward the black constituency, and therefore of little value to predominately white congregations and pastors. I ask you to think again.
Hear this from Barna and Jackson’s findings: Although
white megachurches receive an extraordinary amount of media attention,
do you know that there is a higher percentage of megachurches among
black churches than among white churches? There is something truly
spectacular taking place in the lives of millions of African Americans
and it has been ignited by the goings-on in their churches.
In researching high-impact African-American churches, the
authors discovered “nine specific strategies that enable pastors to
direct a life-changing ministry.” They are:
1. The Pastor as an Agent of Change: Pastors in black churches embrace their role in facilitating people’s evolution as disciples of Jesus.
2. Communication That Inspires: The ability to motivate black people to see themselves as God sees them and to get them to reach for the dreams God has for them has long been a vital dimension of black leadership.
3. Leadership in a Team Context: The pastor becomes a visionary team-builder, more of a player-coach than the owner of a sports franchise.
4. Refusal to Micromanage the Ministry: This arrangement has made the “priesthood of all believers” more than just a quaint Bible phrase.
5. Investment in Developing Effective Followers: This means developing a culture of growth and respect that brings about a ministry that is invulnerable because it has two indispensable ingredients: vision-driven servant-leaders and vision-driven servant-followers.
6. Impact Through Collaboration: The same spirit of partnership has enabled a relatively small and underfinanced population — blacks —to make huge gains through cooperative, church-based efforts.
7. Significance of Longevity: Most pastors experience their greatest impact on and through a congregation from the fifth through 14th year of leadership.
8. Always Leading, Always Growing: Much of the personal growth of black pastors is traceable to personal interaction among pastors through breakfast meetings, conferences, denominational forums, and other face-to-face gatherings.
9. Building the Adaptive Model:
The flexibility and growth potential are more common in black churches
because of the clergy-laity partnership and the tradition of
experimentation with new approaches to ministry.
There is so much more these authors have discovered about the strength and vitality of “High Impact African American Churches” that can benefit all of us. Get the book, read it, and put the principles into practice. The churches studied were: AME, AME Zion, American Baptist, Assemblies of God, Church of God in Christ, Fellowship of International Churches, Missionary Baptist, National Baptist, United Pentecostal ... and United Methodist.