A Voice for the Invisible Black Church
African American church planting
The best way of spreading the gospel is through church planting. Soon after the Christianity Today, an Evangelical Christian magazine summarized a study of African American church planting. All of the study’s advisory board were members of white denominations. Black denominations such the International Pentecostal Holiness Church, The United Methodist Church, The Presbyterian Church of America, and The Southern Baptist Convention were represented.
Where were members of black denominations? Is it possible that ministers in black denominations know something about planting churches to reach black people? How large are the black denominations? How do they compare to white denominations? Some simple research using Wikipedia and The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches yielded these results. They surprised me.
Twenty largest Protestant denominations
|Denomination name|| White Denominations |
| Black Denominations |
|Southern Baptist Convention||16,228|
|United Methodist Church, The||7,854|
|Church of God in Christ, The||5,500|
|National Baptist Convention, USA, Inc||5,000|
|Evangelical Lutheran Church in America||4,634|
|National Baptist Convention of America, Inc||3,500|
|Assemblies of God||2,900|
|Presbyterian Church (USA)||2,845|
|African Methodist Episcopal Church||2,500|
|National Missionary Baptist Convention of America||2,500|
|The Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.||2,500|
|Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS),||2,338|
|Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc Churches of Christ||1,500|
|Churches of Christ||1,639|
|African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church||1,400|
|American Baptist Churches in the USA||1,308|
|Church of God||1,074|
|Christian Churches and Churches of Christ||1,071|
|United Church of Christ||1,058|
33% of Protestant Christians who belong to denominational churches belong to churches which are members of black denominations.
33% of Protestant Christians who belong to denominational churches belong to churches which are members of black denominations. Most churches in black denominations are more than 95% black. Where is their voice in Christian media? In the five years since I performed research, I have not seen one article in an Evangelical publication by a member of a denominational black church.
The Invisible Institution
Princeton Professor Albert J. Raboteau called the church run by and for black people out of the sight of white slave masters and overseers “the invisible institution”
Princeton Professor Albert J. Raboteau called the church run by and for black people out of the sight of white slave masters and overseers “the invisible institution”. Today, in 2019, the black church remains an invisible institution, especially in white Christian media.
Until lions have their own historians, tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter
The African proverb, “Until lions have their own historians, tales of hunting will always glorify the hunter” suggests that unless one tells their own story, it will not be told accurately. Christian commentary about current events and history is told from the white perspective. Even when it is told by black voices, they are usually members of white controlled organizations. The leaders of those organizations only green light information they agree with. Their perspective is not always right. It is not always biblical. It is just white.
In West Africa there is a class of individual called griots who serve as the storytelling historians, preachers, and custodians of culture. God’s Griot is an African American publication that will proclaim truth about black issues by black people. It is “for us and by us” like the FUBU acronym states. The black church owes its birth to the “invisible institution,” the faith practiced by slaves out of the master’s view. The modern black but invisible church needs a black voice.
God’s Griot will tell the truth. Featuring stories of how God works and has worked in the lives of black people throughout history, it will offer hope for today and tomorrow. Billie Holiday’s words describe its reason for being:
“Mama may have, and papa may have,
God bless’ the child,
That’s got his own
That’s got his own…”
Pray and Study
Pray for its success. Research the issues and stories it highlights. Refer others to it. Let’s make it viral.