The Reformed Baptist Church movement has grown considerably over the last few years here in America. And because of the forward progress, many questions have arisen such as “what is a Reformed Baptist Church?” or for some “how can one be both Reformed, and a Baptist?” As I try to explain to others what it means to be a Reformed Baptist, there is always somewhat of a cloud of confusion. But what really throws people off into left field is that I’m an African American, who believes that the Second London Baptist Confession of Faith is the best expression of what the Bible teaches on major doctrinal topics, such as, Biblical inerrancy, the sovereign grace of God, covenant theology, and the Lords Day. It is important to note that being Black and Reformed is somewhat a growing trend in various Christian groups. Although a good thing, nothing ever goes without criticism. There is a growing number of Churches today that emphasize style and what is considered to be impressive by today’s standards. And in my estimation, some people end up being fans of the environment, certain individuals, or celebrity pastors. And because of these trends I pray wholeheartedly to see more Christ centered Reformed Baptist churches planted here in America. And Lord willing, in the African American community as well. It is no secret that the African American Church is in trouble. As the President recently expressed his position on same sex marriage, many black churches were divided. This is more than troubling. One of my main concerns is that even the most conservative churches in the African American community will begin to shift toward theological liberalism due to a lack of doctrinal clarity.
In some Reformed Baptists group’s foreign missions has been the topic of discussion. This is much needed focus since foreign missions is a part of the Great Commission. But I believe there can be a tendency to ignore the needy community’s around the church. Men and women will fly across the globe to spread the Gospel, but will not reach out and plant churches in very needy communities at home. It is very common to see Reformed Churches being planted in wealthy, high-income (majority white) communities. This I believe is contrary to Luke 14:12-13 which says, “When you give a dinner or a banquet do not invite your friends…or rich neighbor’s. But when you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, and the blind.” There are many who are physically and spiritually poor, crippled, lame, and blind, right here in our own communities. And this is not to say that wealthy, high-income communities do not need the Gospel message. The message is to go out to all men (Matthew 28:19). But Christ has a unique concern for those who are poor. Jesus says in Luke 6:20, “Blessed are the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.” Spurgeon once said, “He who talks upon plain gospel themes in a farmer’s kitchen, and is able to interest the carter’s boy and the dairymaid, has more of the minister in him than the prim little man who talks for ever about being cultured, and means by that-being taught to use words which nobody can understand.” I think Spurgeon was right. We live in a time where there are many men who desire to start mega churches, and conquer the world for Christ. This is not to say that pastoring a mega church or having a large ministry is wrong, but it is to say if everyone is too busy trying to gain a fan base, who will go and plant the small churches with only a few faithful members?
I believe that Reformed Baptist distinctives would be a great fit for the African American community. What do I mean by that? While we recognize that Reformed Baptist churches vary in many particulars, in my experiences they seem to have several strengths in common. These strengths include the systematic expository preaching of the whole counsel of God, Word driven psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, and a careful pastoral oversight of the flock, including a desire for godly family living. There is a great need of Churches being planted free of the prosperity and the self-esteem gospel, free from the Hollywood-like worship services, and finally free from pastors who turn out to be wolves rather than shepherds. I would like to say that these are not issues that are limited only to black churches. These issues plague many churches all across America. But sadly, these problems tend to be commonplace in many African American churches. Brothers, this is not an academic concern for me. Rather, I write these things as a husband and a father, who will have to give an account for the direction I lead my family. I believe that it is incumbent to find the best place to worship God in my community. There are many places and cultures were such a church does not exist. We are living in dark times. And I pray that God would send men and women out into different cultures, here in our own country, to be lights in the midst of great darkness.
New Life Community Church