African American Churches and the Neglected Public Minister

By | March 7, 2014

In 2007, former Morehouse College President Robert Michael Franklin wrote that “one of the challenges ahead of the African-American community is the preparation of public theologians for church and society.” Today, some 7 years later, this still rings true. Those of us within the so-called African-American church can boast of billions in collected contributions, millions of adherents, thousands of church buildings, hundreds of mega congregations and countless spirit filled services. Yet, our collective public theological and intellectual witness remains faint and feeble, and perhaps nowhere is this more evident than among those who constitute the church’s leadership, namely its pastors.

Presently, the most pervasive images of African-American pastors in media and public discourse are of the high-profile superstar pastoral types and the infamous wolves in Shepard’s clothing that have been publicly exposed to be hustlers and sexual predators. Obviously these images, though sexy for general conversation, do not come close to telling the whole story of pastoring in African-American communities. In reality, African-American pastoral images are quite diverse and richly textured. However, despite this reality the stories of certain pastoral models go largely untold and underappreciated. As a result many pastors have a narrow view of effective Christian leadership that too often does not include models of prophetic public ministry. (Huffington Post)

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