Brothers and sisters, I honestly believe that a move of God is going down among African-Americans and I am challenged by our responsibilities to be faithful stewards of this move. Our calling is to do all we can to make sure this move does not end with this generation, but is faithfully and emphatically passed on to the next. How do we do this? What are some of the ways in which we can be faithful stewards of this dispensation of God's grace? Here are four ways (I am sure there are many more):
1. Write. As Reformed African-Americans we must write books, articles, booklets, songs, and testimonies on who we are and what God has done and is doing. We must not fear writing on theological subjects that have already been covered by our esteemed brothers of lighter skin tone. Most truth is worthy of being said again. Besides, the historic reformed truths need to be stated in our voice so as to demonstrate that they don't belong to just one ethnic group. Also, surely God desires to testify to the whole body of Christ the glories of his grace through us and thereby encourage our brothers and sisters of different cultures. Unfortunately, we didn't have a large corpus of theological and pastoral material, which was passed down to us. Yet, let not that be said by the generation that comes after us. We must write. To this end, at the New Life Bible Conference in June (I will have more to say about this later), I hear that there will be quite a few offerings from the brothers:
Faithful Preacher by Thabiti Anyabwile
The Decline of African-American Theology by Thabiti Anyabwile
Experiencing the Truth by Anthony Carter (with Michael Leach and Ken Jones)
What is a Healthy Church Member by Thabiti Anyabwile
Where Are All the Brothers by Eric Redmond
And I hear more is on the way. Praise God!
2. Plant and Reform Churches. Church planting continues to be God's means of spreading the message and impact of the gospel. A movement that does establish faithful churches is a movement destined for extinction. So we must plant churches. To this end, here in Atlanta I am leading a team of people in the planting of East Point Church. In fact, this evening we are having our first public meeting in which we are inviting all to come out and hear our vision for a church in the city with a passion for gospel truth and gospel living. Also in Atlanta there is planned the Issachar Fellowship, led my man Dhati Lewis. Prayerfully this church plant will be coming to our fair city in the next year or two. This is exciting news! We need more. Yet, not only must we plant churches, but we must also be willing to assume existing churches and do the work of bringing reform to them. This is being illustrated to us by such men as Eric Redmond at Hillcrest Baptist Church and Roger Skepple at Berean Bible Baptist Church. These men are not alone in there reforming efforts. I know there are many others around the country doing the same. We must make sure we continue this labor.
3. Hold Conferences. The gathering of a people for mutual challenge, encouragement, and edification is not only necessary, it is also biblical (Heb. 10:25). One of the ways in which we can fulfill this command is the regular holding of Church and Bible Conferences. Not only does it continue the integrity and accountability of theology, but it encourages the brothers and sisters to know that they are not alone. We already have some good ones going, namely New Life Bible Conference in the Chicago area and the Miami Pastors' Conference in Miami, FL. Both of these are quickly establishing themselves as bulwarks in the movement. Let us remember to attend and support them. Also, let us plan more around the country. Surely the west coast and Texas can use some.
4. Train Disciples. The health and strength of any movement ultimately lies in its ability to disciple the next generation. We must make sure we are developing ways and means by which we are introducing others, particularly those younger, to the faith we profess. If we are not successful in passing the torch of theology and faith to our sons and daughters, we can not - we must not - claim success or faithfulness at all. Therefore, we must identify those among us who have giftedness and a heart for the ministry. And once identified, we must encourage them, train them, and provide them opportunities to serve and to hone their gifts. Let us never begrudge the younger minds or doubt their sincerity, as it too often happened to some of us. But let us strongly encourage them and challenge them to go above and beyond what we are doing.
Brothers and sisters, it's going down! I pray we will be faithful stewards and that future generations will look upon this time and thank God for our labors and be challenged to labor all the more.