Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Being Black and Reformed

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on May 19, 2012 at 5:38 pm

 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.


Tyrese Jackson
New Life Community Church
Kingsville, Md
newlifemd.org
  1. Mr. Jackson.

    Well said. I totally agree. May the truth find success in many such communities. Press forward, dear brother!

    Heritage RBC
    Ohio

  2. Tyrese,

    I sympathize with you in all that you have stated on this matter. As a black Reformed Baptist believer, I have wrestled with some of these dynamics or the lack thereof myself. As a matter of fact, I began ministerial training with hopes of bridging the gap. Unfortunately, various obstacles have hindered me in the process. May the Lord continue to raise up men who are not afraid or ashamed to bridge the gap and bring glory to Christ in the process!

    Peace be unto you,
    Brock

  3. I love having folk of manifold color together in a local church, and dislike seeing a church making ethnic identity a distinctive. There is none of that in Christ!

  4. @ Mike. I pray also for the truth to penetrate into different cultures right here at home.

    @ Brock. That’s really interesting. Where did you try to begin a ministry? I would love to hear about it.

    @ Manfred. I agree that we shouldn’t seek to form churches based on ethic identity. And like you said we are all in Christ. But at the same time we cant ignore the way things are today. Perhaps if more churches of different ethnic backgrounds agreed on major doctrinal issues, we would see more unity. Fact is the average African American doesn’t even know what Calvinism is, and the ones who do have a twisted understanding of what it is. This could change if people are actually taught the truth.

  5. Tyrese – AMEN! There is too much pride in many churches; we love folk who look, talk, dress, and act like us. We need churches built on biblical doctrines and I would love to work with you – come to SE Oklahoma 🙂

  6. Hello Tyrese,

    You wrote:

    “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.”

    Can you explain why blacks make up about 12% of the US population but are woefully under-represented in foreign missions?

    (a possible answer: prior to the Civil War many black pastors went as missionaries and ministered in Liberia and other places in Africa. After the Civil War, blacks became more poor, urban and their churches on the whole got more and more unsound, involved in largely black politics, and their contribution to foreign missions dwindled. I am sure Jim Crowe is largely to blame).

    It seems that if the faithful black reformed believers that are out there led the way, we would not only see both a greater involvement in foreign missions in the black community but also see healthier black sending churches as well.

    There is no need to pit foreign missions against home missions. Laziness in one is usually accompanied by laziness in the other and vigorous effort in one is usually accompanied by vigorous effort in the other

    (a good follow-up question to mostly white Reformed Baptists is to ask them whether they are TRULY missionary-minded in reality or are just paying lip-service to missions themselves).

    So,

    How do we mobilize more RBs, both black and white, into both foreign missions and US outreach?

    Tyrese, can you help me connect with US reformed blacks who would like to become long-term church-planting missionaries?

  7. Trevor are you asking why there are not more African American missionaries?

  8. Tyrese said: @ Brock. That’s really interesting. Where did you try to begin a ministry? I would love to hear about it.

    Tyrese,

    In short and without giving too much background information, my pursuit for the ministry began in Kansas within a local church context. Suffice it to say, my pursuits ended with frustrations on both sides. Despite things ending in such a way, the desire to preach the gospel still remains.

  9. “It seems that if the faithful black reformed believers that are out there led the way, we would not only see both a greater involvement in foreign missions in the black community but also see healthier black sending churches as well.”

    Trevor,

    There is truth to be found in what you have stated, yet it seems missionary endeavors are initially needed amongst many African American churches themselves before a doctrinally sound foreign missions campaign could ever be launched. I believe such labors are what Tyrese has in mind when he says:

    “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.”

    I’m sure we would all agree that a Christ centered RBC is one that would teach on the necessity of missions in some measure. Therefore, to have such a church in the African American community would imply that it would openly declare and support foreign missions (as well as local missions).

    Grace & peace,
    Brock

  10. Brock;

    There is no need to make home and foreign missions compete; an increased zeal in one will lead to an increased zeal in the other. The best way for black reformed believers to bless their churches at home might be to go to an unreached region and lead from the front, becoming an example and showing that black churches need not merely be inward-looking.

    Trevor

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