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 am a changemaker because as an African American woman under 40, I am paving the way for other women that desire to be in ministry. It is not always accessible and acceptable for women to speak with power and authority, and lead the way in encouraging women to live their truth. As a pastoral leader, my morals and values are derived from my faith and love for people – two ideals I believe are necessary to make the world a better place. We are all a piece of this puzzle called life, and uniquely occupy our space in this world; we cannot be duplicated, nor separated from the love of God. I, like many others, have been given an assignment by God, and my assignment is to reach the broken. During the many struggles of my journey, God shined through the cracks of my brokenness. Lessons I have learned along the way have motivated me to push myself, to rise above my circumstances. Therefore, I encourage my peers, as well as the next generation, to know that despite the difficulties and challenges you face, commit to being a light in this world that points the way back to Jesus.”
ATTRACT YOUNG PEOPLE
“If we are going to attract young people to the church, we must be characterized by a genuine, reliable and relative nature. Many young people today are in a brazen search for affirmation by whatever means seems authentic to them; they can easily recognize false motives or intentions not derived from the heart. That said, it remains a difficult duty to reach a new generation with God’s truth; however, the church must fight to reclaim its history and heritage as the community cornerstone. As a cornerstone, the church can once again embrace the kaleidoscope of culture and critical issues it must deal with, respectfully and responsibly. These issues include, but are not limited to, homelessness, mental health, violence in society, sex trafficking, etc. Consequently, this would certainly appeal to a younger congregation, as it would grant them the opportunity to get involved, be active, and play a part in the transformation of their communities, neighborhoods and families. While continuing to strive forward under the banner of ‘Be the love you want to see in the world,’ the church can continue to show compassion toward young people everywhere, as it listens to their hearts and voices. The Black church must honor the fact that our young people indeed have something to say, and, possess the power to change our world.”
ROLE OF BLACK CHURCH
“The role of the church must be to return to its roots as a true force for the people. From the pulpit to the pew, Black ministers and ministry leaders have been tasked with providing positive leadership, organizing a peaceful protest, promoting sound doctrine and religious ideals, and has even been known to inspire economic growth. Today, to survive and succeed, it is imperative that the Black church embrace certain technology, social media and education platforms to engage the next generation of parishioners and young pastoral candidates. Furthermore, quality programming, public relations and practical instruction must be employed to successfully assimilate new members and families into congregational life and faith communities across the nation. What’s more, the Black church, much like it did in its heyday, must be able to affect political change locally and nationally. Fighting on the frontlines for civil rights and justice cannot be a forgotten movement of the Black church. People must once again be inspired to believe the Black church is a haven of hope and the ultimate cornerstone of urban communities across the nation.”