Traditionally since its inception, The Black Church in America has been a symbol of unity in the black community. In times of crisis it has cut across various religious positions and has served as a spiritual base camp for blacks in America for many years. It has also played a role in community participation, social activities and provided care for the sick and a place of refuge for the poor. During the civil rights movement the black community looked to the church leaders as an instrument that could effect change for their social conditions.
During that time, black church leaders were influential to many of the social changes that we partake of today. Any important institution of society will have a number of roles and functions, and thus, an impact upon its membership. The Black church is no exception. In his study of the Black church, distinguished social scientist E. Franklin Frazier included a chapter, “The Black Church: Nation within a Nation,” in which he saw the church as an “agency of social control,’’ as an “economic cooperative,’’ as an “educational institution,’’ as an “arena of political life,’’ and as a “refuge in a hostile white world: (Frazier, 1964).
These functions—political, economic, social, and security—all attest to the secular scope of the Black church. Some students of the Black church have supported this view of the church’s secular function. An example is Joseph Washington, Jr. (1964), referring to the work of the late Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. as an extension of the religious role of the church into the civil rights area. Although Washington viewed King’s philosophy as a perversion of the uses of Christian theology, and tended to view this activity as negative, his rationale was based on a lack of emphasis on theology in the Black church.
Other writers have tended to support the view that, the function of the Black church was not so much to foster the spiritual growth of its members by its adherence to and development of the normal Christian theology of the church, as it was to serve their spiritually-related secular needs. St. Clair Drake and Horace Cayton, for instance, say in their study of the Black church in Chicago in the 1930’s: The Negro Church is ostensibly a “religious organization,’’ but Bronzeville expects it, too, to “advance the race. ”
Negro Baptists think of their congregation as a “Race Church,” and their leaders concern themselves with such matters as fighting the job ceiling and demanding equal economic opportunity as well as “serving the Lord. ” (Drake and Cayton, 1970 Pg 167). Kelly Miller also says that the Black church “ was not yet able to formulate a theological statement of its doctrine,’’ that it broke from the white church and “decided to go worship God under its own fig tree,” and in so doing, developed a distinctive orientation (Miller, 1968).
Others, however, such as Gayraud S. Wilmore and James Cone, built on the Drake and Cayton notion of the Black church as a “race church. ” They outlined the tendency of the Black church to be responsive to the dominant forces in the Black community by pointing to the compatibility between the “Blackness” of the church and the dominant ideologies—such as Black power—in the community (Wilmore, 1973; Cone, 1969). Assuming these notions are true, it should be possible to test a theory of the responsiveness of the Black Church.
Learning more about the function of the Black church is made urgent by the increased necessity for it to be responsive to the social needs of the Black community. The nature of these social needs is made urgent by the many new problems, of this age. STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM AND PURPOSE Today’s Problems which relate to the role of the church in secular activities is in its relationship to black families. The number of black families headed by black females has continued to rise over the years verses other ethnic groups.
This dramatic rise may be attributed to an increase in babies born out of wedlock, divorce and separations, all of which have more serious underlying causes, and which also have ramifications on the ability to maintain adequate income for provisional needs. The church formerly was the home for many entire extended families in the Black community; as such, it played a role in establishing standards of conduct; legitimizing births, marriages, and deaths; educating and caring for children; and counseling married individuals.
Consequently, the church was a resource center for the Black family, and played a role in its survival. If there are now new pressures on the family which—in addition to employment-related difficulties—threaten the survival of the family, it is also worthwhile to assess the modern role of the church and the extent to which it provides services to meet these new needs. In light of the current problems facing the Black community, it is appropriate and necessary that a new assessment be made of the various institutions within the community which played a role in its progress.
PURPOSE OF THIS STUDY The purpose of this study is to ascertain the present-day role of the Black church as a community institution, particularly with respect to the views of the church’s leadership, membership, and individuals in the community. To what extent, if any, does the church leadership believe that the Black church should be involved in the community? How do church members perceive the scope of the church as it relates to non-secular activities?
And to what extent do residents, especially non-church members, view the church as a community resource? IMPORTANCE OF THE STUDY 1. To gain insight of how church leaders and members, perceive the role of the Black church in the 21st Century. 2. To understand the communities view of what role the church should play in the political, social and economic activities of the community. 3. To define to what extent the black church will sponsor religious and secular programs. ASSUMPTIONS This study was prepared based upon the following assumptions:
1. To assist the church in bridging the gap and being more effective in its mission to serve through its activities. 2. To broaden the awareness of church leaders and members on the needs of the black community it serves. 3. To demonstrate to local leaders the contributions the black church has to offer for the welfare of its citizens. 4. To identify church programs that shows potential for future community growth. LIMITATIONS OF THE STUDY The study will be limited in the following way: 1.
The primary focus of this study is to identify the impact of the black church in the community in which it exists. DEFINITION OF TERMS The following terms are defined to clarify their meaning in the context of study: Culture: The acquired knowledge, traits and symbols of a society Community: A group of people living in the same locally and under the same government. Secular: Not specifically relating to religion or to a religious body. METHOD OF STUDY This action research study will utilize action research, implementing quantitative research techniques.
Quantitative research was selected for this study because it generates the comprehensive data needed for verification of results. ACTION RESEARCH The primary research method selected for this study is action research, because action research is concerned with improving a specific situation. Isaac and Michael validated the appropriateness of action research by confirming that it provides an organized structure to develop new skills or new approaches and so to solve problems with direct application to the classroom or working world setting.
They suggested an orderly framework for problem solving and new developments that are superior to the impressionistic, fragmentary approach that typifies developments in education (1974, 13-30). Lewin, however, is credited with developing the term action research in 1944. He described the method as a cyclic operation in which the researcher is a participant in the process rather than a disinterested observer. The following steps are included in an action research study: (1) a planning or conceptualization step; (2) research or a fact-finding step; (3) an evaluation step; and (4) an execution step (1948, 34-36)
Fermin and Levin in 1975 further described the research design as a preliminary and flexible strategy of investigation strategy of investigation or plan of action. The research is aimed at discovering “why,” and as a result, focuses centrally upon explaining social or political phenomena with answers of a theoretical nature. The research operates at a fuller or higher level of description, which includes making rational statements containing reasons or causes for behavior.
Borg argued that action research design has as the chief benefit (1) a practical solution to a problem that may lead to a permanent improvement in the research environment; (2) it is the most appropriate method when practical significance is required rather than statistical and (3) the applicability of the finds are immediate and often of permanent improvement (1963, 319-322). QUANTITATIVE RESEARCH Isaac and Michael described quantitative research as allowing the researcher to formulate research questions or hypotheses and then to test each under controlled conditions.
They decided its greatest merit is the convincing nature of hard data collected that can speak for itself (1974, 354-355). PROCEDURES To conduct this study, the following actions will be taken regarding each of the objectives: First objective: To identify and report the desired behaviors required for future Christian education leaders. 1. The literature of the field will be reviewed in the following areas: (a) Biblical context, (b) Church History, and (c) contemporary ministry. 2. The findings of the literature will be reported in chapter 2.
Second objective: To validate the behaviors identified in the literature review. In order for the inventory of behaviors to be comprehensive, Flanagan stated that it is necessary to obtain a sufficiently representative sample (1949, 343). a) The degree of mutuality existing among the behaviors reported will be identified with respect to the different clusters. b) The number of behaviors will continue to be reduced by combining similar behaviors and writing new descriptions without regard for specific categories. c) The final inventory of administrative behaviors will be produced by the researcher. 2.
The findings of the inventory of behaviors will be reported in chapter 3. Third objective: To make appropriate recommendations on the selection and training of future education administrators. 1. The study, including the findings of objectives 1 and 2 will be reviewed and summarized. 2. Appropriate conclusions will be drawn. 3. Specific recommendation which emerge from the study will be made, including suggestions for utilization of the competency areas recommended by the study, and suggestions for further research. 4. The summary, conclusions, and recommendation including check list will be reported in chapter 4.
ORGANIZATION OF THE STUDY The study will be organized into four chapters in accordance with the Action Research, as table 1 displays. TABLE 1 Organization of the study based on action research Action Research Steps Chapters 1 2 3 4 Planning/Conceptualization X Fact Finding X X X Evaluation X Chapter 1 has stated the problem and purpose, explained the importance of the study, and stated the method. Chapter 2 will survey the literature to identify and report behaviors required to effectively analyze the characteristics of the church leaders, church members and surrounding neighborhood.
Chapter 3 will report the validated behaviors for the role of the church. Chapter 4 will review and summarized the study, offer appropriate conclusion and discuss recommendations for change and future study. CHAPTER 2 CHARACTERISTICS We expect every church planter either black or white to be a good leader. Everyone else who knows about leader and his ministry, even including his group people expect it too. This is truly right no matter who a church planter is, may be any man or woman, may be a minister having both in church and outside of the church jobs. He may be a permanent pastor.
Every church planter must enquire about his personality by self-questioning in such a personal way so that obtaining answers can help him to be sure about his decision and can help him to find out his true calling these answer can also help planter to know his future as a leader of his group. Our own understanding taught us about good leaders and leadership which we learned by working with different leaders. These leaders are the ones that people have known, read or watched about them. A successful leader has four elements including organization second program third morale and forth leadership.
The greatest of four is leadership. Although morale is condition of mind and character that shows the person is brave. It also includes ability to do things with full trust on your self. The organizational element is based on morale followers; program of a church goes where the leadership goes. People have studied different kinds of leaders in secular history and in the Bible. The Lord Jesus Christ is their example as a true leader in Christian service. In the Bible God chose many people as leaders in His work for example Abraham, Noah, Nehemiah, Joseph, Paul and Daniel.
Whenever the God leads anyone to think, about going into the Christian ministry he must look for a person who could demonstrate Him, what His person really used to be. A question also rises of what does God require of that person as His leader? And what it takes to be a good leader? The needed qualities of a Christian leader or a church planter should be as the Joseph had he even became a picture or copy of Jesus Christ. Joseph’s acts and character were good qualities for a church leader any church leader with these characteristics will definitely have success.
“It is vital that counselors who collaborate with African American congregations understand that titles and the values assigned to them can be very important in the Black church and within many African American families. Counselors who do not use the formal titles of ministers, church leaders, older church members, and members who have earned doctoral degrees run the risk of hampered rapport. ” (2005, 147) The God selected some of His people to be prophets, apostles, pastors, missionaries, and teachers, so that His people would be taught to serve and would become strong.
This will carry on until we are united on accepting the Son of God by our faith. All the church has realized the need for leadership; they spend a big part of their life with the life of the church. People often think about the job of church leaders without attempting to connect their roles to the nature and purpose of the church. It means that church leaders become functionaries rather than ministers and become organization maintainers rather than church mission leader. But true black church leader as a person is that who uses his gifts to facilitate others in ministry, and then making suggestions and observations for implications to church.
TESTIMONY OF PERSONAL CONNECTION WITH GOD When we talk about a church leader having a testimony, it proofs that God is with the leader and leader is with God. A church leader seeks a leadership ministry in God’s service and discusses his personal experience in the Christ. Sharing of a Christian testimony with others in public is the result of that personal experience. “The LORD was with Joseph, and he was a prosperous man; and he was in the house of his master the Egyptian” (Genesis 39:2) Private and public life of a church leader, as a Christian, supports his testimony and influences others to become Christian.
People expect church leader to be person who follows words and prayers of God. A church leader demonstrates people by giving example of personal closeness to God in his private and public. People judge their weaknesses with the help of purposeful Christian testimony of the leader. A church leader witnesses for Christ through his hands, lips, works and entire life. STRONG CERTAINTY AS A CHURCH LEADER Certainty represents freedom and surety of fact from doubt. It means a church leader is ahead of all other people sent by God.
A church leader has a sense of call to be God’s leader so it gives him a special desire for leadership ministry. It also gives him a deep faith that God has His hands in his progress. It helps in making him sure that God wants him to be a church leader. “…. God sent me ahead of you….. to preserve for you a remnant on earth …….. it was not you who sent me here, but God” (Gen 45. 5,7,8). His firm belief gives him inner faith and courage and helps him to go through hard times in his work by staying firmly on the job until finish it according to God’s order.
He does his job with dignity and proud character and blessings of the God who asked him to lead and serve. “Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God” (Romans 1). The ministry requires church leaders to be certain of their calling as God’s leaders. INTEGRITY BEING A PART OF PERSONALITY Integrity is being truthful and honest. It also refers moral excellence and living and doing in a right manner. A church leader is true to him-self and keeps him-self pure and honorable. He knows the importance to keep integrity in front of God and people.
Integrity as a needed quality for church leaders, and a church leader is free from any blame. He stands for God before his group and the people inside and outside of the church. A church planter makes a new church healthy when he has integrity in his private and public life. He knows how important it is for him to have authority as a leader, not only for just leadership but a church leader shows it in daily life. People need church leaders having integrity in their personality to teach them the difference between the right and wrong and help them choosing the right. DISTINCT CAPABILITIES
When we talk about capabilities it represents fitness or ability. Distinct capability of a church leader enables him to do his job in a good manner wherever he serves people. Church leaders are good mentors they are wise and trusted persons who give advices. A church leader keeps on improving his talent by using his mentor and measuring obtaining results. People think that the greatest ability of a church leader is that, he depends only on God to avoid making mistakes in delivering his services to both God and people. Ability for church leading or planting is one of the parts of learnt talents of a church leader.
USE OF AUTHORITY A church leader should use his authority properly which is given by the God and community. A church leader is not a good leader if no one is following him. People obey him because of his owning authority and their trust on his authority. Church leaders know above all else, that their power as a leader came from God. They receive authority and become God’s witnesses when the Holy Spirit appears on them. A church leader understands that his leadership power comes from the God and understands that those, whom he serves, give him authority as a leader.
“A Christian does not forget that his leadership depends on responsibility that goes with authority” (2-corinthians-5:9) A church leader uses these blessings for establishing of the groups or churches, his position as a leader is to achieve success in carrying out God’s purpose. If a church leader uses his authority in a wrong or bad use then he will definitely suffer for his doings. The church leaders should not forget that their leaderships depend on responsibility and their authority goes with equal responsibility. It means they should be able to believe and precede these authorities in a reasonable manner. ACCOUNTABLE
A church leader is responsible for using church assets and other resources in an appropriate manner – he should be accountable for himself. “So Pharaoh said to Joseph, ‘I’m putting you in charge of the whole land of Egypt’” (Genesis 41:41). They trusted Joseph because of his self accountability. People who follow and support a church leader do not question about his plans for them. He opens his books for others to see and believes that honesty is a good policy. Church leaders spend their life on good and respected principles, the God and people expect that every church leader must have all of the qualities of Abraham, Noah, etc.
A Church leader in leadership position is believed accountable and honest Christian leader. He needs to love the God’s messenger’s reports or reviews and do what they do. The reports or reviews help him to improve from good to a better leader. A church leader makes decisions according to religious possibilities; he accepts responsibility for the obtaining result of his decisions. People usually do not consider religious aspects in their routine they read religious books like open letters. A church leader knows how to make good decisions, he then lives with the decisions that he has made and accepts responsibility for his works.
PLANS AND DIRECT ACTIONS A church leader knows how to plan and direct actions to avoid any mistakes being made. He formulates and deploys plans to achieve objectives – he directs the work accordingly until it finishes. He creates different questions in his mind; for example, what to do, why to do it, when to do it, how to do it, who to do, and how to finish it. A church leader’s plans are simple, people who work as group members and other people who follow him understand his plans clearly. He forms teams and give them duties so that they can work with authority and responsibility.
He makes rules that people accept to follow. The God wants a church leader to share His vision with his team members and people. A good church leader knows how to put the God given plan into practice. A church leader is the person who influences his team members and leads team members to carry out the agreed objectives, by following the example of the Christ. People under him follow his way of life; a church leader gets people to act on church and mission goals, and he also ministers the need of people. A Church leader humbly realizes that he needs God’s help and needs it in developing good plans that will work for others.
These working plans then successfully meet the desired goals. A church leader does not build plans for other people to merely honor them, but he does it for the good of his people with everlasting results. UNCHANGED LOYALTY A church leader demonstrates loyalty that never changes. A church leader is faithful to his promises and duties. He never finds fault in his job; people respect him as a man of God living among them. A church leader gives his life to God’s mission and purpose and spends his entire life doing it. Loyalty being a leadership quality, a church leader is always loyal to God and his people.
A church leader needs loyalty to start and grow a church or group. A loyal church leader is the base of a healthy church to grow and a key element for a church to produce other churches. A church leader influences others in his ministry through his loyalty to Jesus Christ as the Savior and Lord. A loyal church leader produces loyal members – he starts and finishes his job with his team very well. A successful Christian leader is always keen and willing to work with a community or groups. He has a strong desire to develop community services together. USE OF GOD’S GIFTS
God has gifted all people with different abilities and characteristics. Nowadays, this divine gift directs people to serve churches, as ushers, church school teachers, financial officers, directors of food pantries, youth leaders, and in so many other roles. It all starts with gifts, which can be utilized in a variety of ways. Gifts are given by the God to everyone. The God doesn’t limit the gifts to his people, so we shouldn’t limit leadership to others. The potential to lead by using gifts for enabling others in ministry does not requires intelligence, education, economic status, age, gender, or any other human distinction.
“Children and youth, as well as adults, all are gifted. Women and men, boys and girls have all been gifted which they can use in leadership of a church. It does not mean, however, that everyone should be an administrator of a church”. Gifts are several and of different nature, the variety of these gifts is much greater than churches usually realize. There are many gifts beyond the gifts that are usually used in preaching, teaching, and committee work. If one is to use all God given gifts for his leadership within a church, he/she must discover that wide range of gifts, and welcome the spirit to employ them.
It is not always an easy task for a human to identify gifts since gifts have strange way of hiding themselves, particularly from those people who hold them. God’s given gifts are so much a part of our personality that people not likely to think of them as gifts. For example, if a person is a good organizer, he must recognize this specialty and take it as a gift given by God. As God’s gifts are discovered by interacting with others. However, discovering gifts is not enough because many people use there gifts haphazardly, with no attention to their development.
God’s given gift’s effectiveness can be significantly enhanced through intentional development of them. For example, if a person with natural painting ability can choose not to practice or take lessons and keep his ability as hobby and keeps his gift undefined from being fully utilized for service. The church leaders provide opportunities to people for training and development of Gods given gifts. They are intentional about using these gifts of children and youth in future leadership. The church leaders encourage their members to affirm and identify one another’s gifts.
People discover and experiments their gifts in an atmosphere of acceptance provided by the church leader. A church leader expands his understanding in order to be comprehensive and not neglect people’s gifts. CHURCH LEADER ENABLES OTHERS A church leader uses his gifts to enable others to discover, develops, and use their God’s given gifts. A church leader truly enables other people helping them to become God‘s intended persons. This is not a true leadership to just manipulate others to act in a certain manner. A church leader puts aside his or own ego needs and coach others in such a way that help them blossom.
The key function of a church leader is to facilitate others by helping them in discovering, developing, and effectively utilizing their God given gifts. Church leaders have five essential components to enable people. These are helping them to gain knowledge, encourage personal growth, assist them in working with others, aid in skill development, and provide appropriate settings. Here the term “Knowledge” is about information of the Christian traditions, quality Bible study, the nature and mission of the church, and the expert knowledge related to particular areas of services.
The personal growth includes people growth as they develop awareness of giftedness, self knowledge, and understanding of purpose, which is firmly stable in a relationship with Jesus Christ. A church leader is able to work well with others; it is an essential element of the leadership. Skills development includes effective communication, managing small group, organization, and having healthy relationships with others that is beneficial for his ministry. A church leader gives importance to people using their gifts in such circumstance that improve potential of their success.
The role of a church leader is not always immediate or direct. If a person who provides nurture to young children is providing early enabling for the leadership of others. Therefore, a church leader needs to be seen in his every task in terms of how it enables people for ministry. The Church leadership as a service may be a new perception for some people, so the church needs to have deep study that explores up Jesus’ own servant leadership model. A church leader must provide opportunities and safe places for members to develop and use their God given gifts.
Discovering and developing God’s gifts for people is not an end in itself. The ministry for which people are gifted is on a large scale, taking its place within and outside a church, even extends throughout the God’s world. “The black church is the one place in our community where people come together and pool their resources to better minister to the church and the community” (1993, 54). There are mutual ministries among church members as accepting, loving, available, supportive, and accountable community of faith.
Out of the church’s boundaries, church leaders respond to human need by teaching love and hope, empowering the powerless, uplifting the poor, restoring creation, confronting all that harms persons and creation, and reconciling persons to God and one another. People note different implications for churches because the growth of effective leaders is grounded in a church’s vision of its ministry, a declaration of that vision needs not only to be created, but also acted on.
Church’s involvements within and outside of the church provides a map of leadership opportunities by providing a starting point for selecting and developing leaders. COMMUNITY BEHAVIOR African American spirituality has woven collectively the best of African Anglo cultures to creatively shape their own African American identity. While black peoples have not been socially, politically or economically free in the history, the practice of spirituality has facilitated the development of different forms of cultural and spiritual freedom by interpreting, transcending and embracing, the constraints of an oppressive culture.
Furthermore, the development of their own beliefs, norms, forms, practices, and structures has given rise to a culture and life that is a distinctive form of human survival, existence, and, freedom most importantly. The black churches as the centers of freedom influenced the praxis of African-American spirituality. They have become safe places where blacks gathered to embrace their combined concerns as a community of faith. They have been the only institutions in the African American experience that has continued relative independence from the domesticating influence of white pressure and overlords.
Some black churches consider may be the last place to see integration due to the need to maintain a power base not available to black people elsewhere. After reviewing some aspects of worship as the context for cultural and spiritual freedom, black preaching in and out sides of the black churches are one of the most powerful expressions of freedom for black people in America. The ability to produce a soul language that defines truth into systems of meaning gives power and purpose to black people.
Subsequently, Black community successfully adopts and adapts the structures of the much larger culture for their own purpose this practice comes from a double consciousness or translating. African Americans translated the experience of one kind to that of another which leading them to freedom. Therefore, black people spirituality gave freedom to the spirit and mind that the external condition could not take away. The religious approach is due to a deep faith in the sacredness of life that reaffirmed a personal dignity in blacks which resulted in the practice of nonviolence and mercy.
Black community determines themselves how they responded to oppression. Various forms expressing improvisation and innovation from black soul forces constituted black culture. These forms under the subtitles black music, literature, humor, folk tales, sports, art and dance; and their worship forms under the headings of prayer, shouting, healing, dancing, singing praising and instrumental music transformation, teaching and preaching. These forms express that what is true and valuable will be determined by black community itself and will subvert and defy attempts of the larger culture to discern.