COURTNEY JONES, 33, Pan-African Orthodox Christian Church, Preaching: 16 years

As a young minister, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. used the pulpit to create a paradigm shift in our history and culture that continues to this day.  This change agent attracted a new generation of young people using the church as the foundation to demand the doors of opportunity be opened. Here, Houston ministers under 40 discuss how they hope to institute change, how to attract and encourage more young people and the role of the Black church in general.


“I was raised to believe that no single person is greater than the whole. And because of that mind et I am compelled to serve my people, as well as promote solidarity and unification among them. There is a great distinction between reality and actuality. I like to keep it actual, instead of keeping it real. Real can be relative. If Black people were to concentrate on what’s ‘actually’ plaguing our culture and communities as people we would undoubtedly find solutions and change the direction of the tide. Change does not occur until a people can identify ‘actual truth.’ I’m an agent of actual truth.”


“There’s a great distinction between being reared in the church and being attracted to a church. A church has to tailor its personality and mission to identify with young people just like a parent raising a child. A church should not have a personality nor mission that can only identify with generations that surpassed the stage of youthfulness. Youthfulness is developmental immaturity, it is vibrant, daring, challenging, creative, confidence, ignorance, newness and it is the future. For churches to shun [youthfulness] is a call for its own demise. There is no church program, event or gimmick that can attract young people. The attraction has to be mutual. A church has to identify with the life experiences of youth and take charge of developing them into the torchbearers.”


“[Its role is] to serve the best interest of Black people. To summarize what Carter G. Woodson wrote in “The Mis-Education of the Negro” in regard to the Black church, its role is to stand on the side of justice and righteousness while allowing Black people to be unapologetically Black. The Black church should undoubtedly promote Black culture and community enrichment throughout the communities where they reside. The Black church should never promote or endorse any form of idealism that strips Black people of their culture nor suggest to their “consciousness” that their race and culture is obsolete due to their religious convictions.”