Recently, I had an opportunity to speak at Canton Christian Fellowship, an African-American church lead by Pastor David Washington. He has an awesome church that is transforming lives. Pastor David also has a ministry that is even going beyond his local church.
In the past, I had a handful of other opportunities to speak at various African-American churches and every single time, I came away with the same sentiment – I love being in their church community. There is something about the African-American church that ignites the preacher in me. There is a connection with the people that is hard to explain in words.
As I gave it some thought, I realized that there are some traits that are consistent in “most” African-American churches, which would encourage any guest speaker. Here are some of my observations:
2) AFFIRMATION – You cannot go through a conversation without hearing words of affirmation such as, “Uh huh,” “Yeah,” “Exactly,” “Come on,” “I hear you brother”. It is especially encouraging when I hear it during my preaching. For some reason, it always makes me want to preach like this.
3) ATTESTATION – You cannot be in an African-American church without having some time allotted for “testimonies.” I am always encouraged to hear people attesting to the power of God and the goodness of God in their lives. It really has a way of uplifting the whole Body of Christ to have greater faith in what God can do.
4) APPRECIATION – You cannot help but to feel the heart of gratitude and thankfulness from the members as you serve them. It is interesting how in the African-American church culture they have a high view of their pastor and his wife (a.k.a First Lady). I was humbled to see many of the members coming up to me after the gathering to greet me and express their appreciation. It humbled me to see their humility and experience their appreciation.
5) ASPIRATION – You cannot go into an African-American church and see the purpose for their existence is just within the four walls of the church. I am constantly amazed at the number of outreach programs they have to their community. They really take seriously the command to “love your neighbor as yourself.” Their aspiration to bring the blessings of God to their community is inspiring. They are truly aspiring to be “a city on a hill that cannot be hidden.”
I am grateful that even though I am not pastoring an African-American church, God is bringing more African-Americans into our church. The Revelation 7:9 vision is becoming more of a reality within our church. We still have a long way to go, but I am hopeful that as we continue to stress the importance of being transcultural, we will see more people from every race and nation joining our biblical community.